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We gathered opinions from legal professionals on their hopes and plans for this year, and what they have done to survive the past tumultuous years. Putro Harnowo reports


lthough the world is still grappling with the turbulence of trade tensions and conflict, supply chain disruptions and an expected recession, Asia’s legal market remains hopeful. Not as hopeful as in the past, perhaps, but bold enough to be projecting upticks in various legal practice areas.

There are good reasons, not least the diminishing impact of covid-19 and with that the reopening of China as a long-awaited milestone in Asia’s post-pandemic era.

Asia Business Law Journal’s survey of 101 law firms in the region finds the majority of respondents in buoyant mood for the year. More than half (60%) are optimistic or very optimistic about their future in 2023, significantly down on last year’s survey, when 93% of those surveyed were upbeat, as published in our November/December 2021 issue. Not surprisingly, only 56% of law firms admitted their revenue increased in 2022, down from 74% in our previous survey.

However, most seemed to agree that adopted technologies would stay, and keeping top talents is being the key to survival during uncertain times. More than half (57%) of law firms in the survey kept their headcounts the same, and 32% added to lawyer numbers this past year.

Our recent survey of law firms in 16 jurisdictions also discovered that many lawyers cautiously cope with pandemic-induced change in different ways.

As the travel restriction is lifted, Wang Kai, a Beijing-based partner at JunHe, sees that reconnecting with clients is imperative. “First is to recover the relationship with those foreign clients, who have not been visited in the past three years,” says Wang. “The second is to participate in more commercial events to expand the firm’s presence.”

In terms of client portfolios, Wang says that demands from state-owned and domestic private enterprises will increase to fill the gap left by foreign companies that have gradually reduced their activities in China.

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