Domestic lawyers love international law firms, but not in Japan and UAE
According to our survey, seven out of ten lawyers working for domestic law firms across the region voted for an international law firm as one of their top places to work. International law firms in Singapore, Hong Kong and China were the biggest focus of such voting. “The big US and UK firms are, rightly or wrongly, still seen by many as the ideal places to work, especially among younger lawyers,” said a partner at a Singapore domestic firm, who himself nominated international law firms in our survey. “They see clearer-cut opportunities for advancement, greater access to quality work, better pay of course, plus access to a global network and global career opportunities, which is all very exciting.”
But while this may be true of lawyers in Singapore, Hong Kong and China, it was certainly not the case in Japan where domestic lawyers voted for local law firms over the international players – nine times out of ten. “The quality of work that younger lawyers are exposed to in Japan is much higher,” said one respondent. “There is a real effort to show the younger ones the ropes, and advancement appears to be merit based.” While international law firms did receive a number of votes in Japan, they were nowhere to be found in the UAE – something that many lawyers there believe is related to their handling of the HR issues arising out of the financial crisis.
“From personal experience, I’d say the results are an accurate representation of how things look at the moment,” said one respondent. “Take Dubai as an example – the international firms here really handled the crisis in abysmal fashion: laid-off lawyers were treated terribly and even those who survived the cuts were in no better state with no communication about what was going on.”
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