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International Law Firms Streamlining Head Count in Asia

07/01/14

International Law Firms Streamlining Head Count in Asia


UK law website The Lawyer published its report Asia Pacific 150 2014 on 30th June showing a large number of top law firms from US and UK streamlining headcount in the region. While most big law firms had reduced their headcount in 2013 year on year against 2012, some firms actually boosted their headcount. It's not all one-way reduction, but it seems the law firms are consolidating and optimizing according to foreseeable demands for their services.

The Lawyer reported that while law firms like Eversheds and Allen & Overy had reduced their headcount by more than 20%, other law firms like Freshfields Bruckhaus and Clifford Chance

had actually increased the numbers of their lawyers by 10 percent or more during the same time.

Even Baker & McKenzie
, which is considered the international law firm with the largest presence in the region, both according to headcount and according to geographic spread, has lowered its headcount by 2% though it opened two new offices and its turnover in the region increased from $648 million in 2012 to $677 million in 2013.

According to the report published by the Lawyer, Orrick's headcount in the region reduced from 91 in 2012 to 76 in 2013. The headcount of Norton Rose Fulbright also reduced from 729 to 662, and even local giants like Herbert Smith Freehills reduced headcount from 1,130 to 986 between 2012 and 2013.

In fact, according to the report, two thirds of the top 50 international law firms in the Asia Pacific witnessed a decline in lawyer headcount. Only Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
went against the trend and increased their headcount by 51.5 percent.

The Lawyer interviewed Allen & Overy's Asia managing partner Thomas Brown who said that the reductions in headcount indicated maturing of the market.

Brown said, "Anyone who is going to come to the region is probably already here now. And the firms that are here are going through a period of slight consolidation, as they've have now stepped back and assessed their regional headcount needs."

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