According to a new report authored by Dr George Beaton and Eric Chin of Australia’s Beaton Capital — which appears in the new book:  A Comprehensive Guide to the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets — Asia-Pacific’s indigenous law firms face a rapidly evolving landscape requiring concerted action to assess, adapt and act to maximize opportunity.

George Beaton, Beaton Capital

George Beaton, Beaton Capital

Asia Law Portal is highlighting each contribution to the book in a series of articles here.  This article is the 6th in that series.  Below is a preview of Beaton and Chin’s report:

“The Region’s macro-environment forces and legal services industry life cycle are accelerating the pace of change for indigenous law firms…In the face of globalisation, the Region’s law firm leaders are being forced to rapidly professionalise the management of their firms from strong local firms into regional and in turn for many into international firms.”

“The importance of Hong Kong and Singapore as financial centres in the Region has made the city states the major battleground where local, regional and international law firms fight for market share.”

“The most notable threats from international law firms are brand strength in cross border–inbound and outbound–transactions and localisation of practices through association or merger. Magic Circle and Wall Street firms enjoy their near monopolising brand strength in emerging and saturating countries where clients prefer to appoint well-known legal brands.”

Eric Chin, Beaton Capital

Eric Chin, Beaton Capital

“The creation of King & Wood Mallesons in 2012 marks the first time in the Region’s legal services industry history that two major Asia-Pacific law firms – China’s Red Circle firm, King & Wood and Australia’s Big Six firm, Mallesons Stephen Jaques – merged into the first major regional player.  In 2013, the Asian-headquartered international law firm combined with UK’s Silver Circle firm, SJ Berwin. This move provides a blueprint for the Region’s law firms with global aspirations.

“Many of the Region’s top tier firms are already following clients offshore, mainly to other parts of Asia to brick-wall clients from incoming international law firms and peers from other jurisdiction.”

Beaton and Chin also provide a comprehensive analysis of the region’s key markets and the trends driving change in those markets.  They conclude, based on those trends and their analysis, that: “In the Asia-Pacific region, successful law firms of the future will be those with a clear and well executed strategy on the type of clients to pursue and, from this logic, the range of services and geographic coverage required, the requisite human capital model, and the appropriate management systems to implement.”

Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley edits and publishes Asia Law Portal and is the author of A Comprehensive Guide to the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets. He provides writing, editing, research and strategy services to the corporate and professional services sectors.

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