Raising the bar


And singing a different tune

acareer in a law firm, especially a large one, has long been a hallmark of prestige for many law graduates. There are perceptions, for right or wrong, that have placed these lawyers in an elite circle of professionals who command respect and embody the definition of success. But within the profession, something of a quiet revolution, or rather evolution, is occurring.

Volume 7, Issue 3
Asia Business Law Journal

The pandemic has changed the way people see their jobs and legal is no exception, with growing pressure on in-house legal departments and law firms to retain good talent, while that talent seems determined to chart a new course. As the term “great resignation” started resonating in 2021, the Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer Survey 2022 warned that 70% of corporate lawyers across Europe and the US were likely to leave their current positions within the next year.

Although not a similar exodus, our Cover story finds that Asia’s young lawyers have cited hitting the glass ceiling and wanting a better work-life balance as among the reasons to stay away from a long-haul career with a top firm. High attrition in the Asian legal market has pushed many lawyers to adjust their working routines, roles, practice areas, even their entire careers.

Many lawyers we interviewed call for an urgent need for law firms to increase pay and improve working conditions if they wish to retain talent. One lawyer who recently left private practice pointed out a direct correlation between attrition rates and the lack of empathy with leaders in how they treat their legal teams.

On a slightly different note, we also decided to check out the feeling towards law firms in general from the client’s side and, based on our annual survey, slow turnaround times and overpricing are at the top of The hit list of things that leave a bitter aftertaste with in-house counsel when dealing with their law firm counterparts.

On the upside, in-house counsel increasingly see the potential for legaltech to make their lives easier and optimise workloads. Find out what else is peeving in-house teams about their law firm colleagues in this eye-opening read.

Technology has driven Asian countries to take a lead in IP. The World Intellectual Property Organisation’s report in February showed a record 277,500 international patents were filed in 2021, and Asia accounted for more than half of them, mostly in computer technology, electrical machinery and digital communications. In High five, we bring the heads of five major IP offices to share their game plans for utilising IP assets to drive innovation and promote collaboration.

The world has witnessed technology leveraging human resilience during the health crisis, elevating the amount of the healthcare sector in cyberspace to an unprecedented size. This novel integration poses many legal challenges, and our Head to Head on healthtech regulations looks at China, India, and Japan, addressing such issues from data protection and IP disputes to fraud investigations.

Also in a Head to Head series, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand are racing to set policies for renewable energy deployment and generation to achieve net zero. The global effort to tackle climate change brings hope for investment in wind and solar power, but the different environmental standards and required assessments in this emerging sector should be taken into consideration.

This issue has us excited to bring you the Philippine Law Firm Awards 2022 and Korea Law Firm Awards 2022, where we recognise our choice for top law firms in both countries, followed by firms we felt were the best in their respective categories.

Finally, be sure not to miss our annual Vietnam A-List, with our choices for the top 100 lawyers in the country based on nominations from clients at home and abroad, as well as by their international peers.

Best wishes
Putro Harnowo
Asia Business Law Journal