Monday, August 17, 2009

ALB 50 2009: Asia's Largest Law Firms


For law firms around the world, it is been a tumultuous and transformative year – one in which growth and decline have come hand in hand. On one hand, the global legal services industry has experienced what has been considered the worst financial crisis since the depression, forcing law firms to downsize and scrap growth plans. On the other, some firms have ploughed on and opened new offices, continued at normal recruitment levels or forged alliances. Meanwhile, a broader debate circulates in the industry – whether law firms must drastically change the way they operate. Whether firms that have adopted alternative business models will be able to continue their growth as the downturn really bites is yet to be seen. More certain is that an impressive number of firms, especially domestic firms just outside the very top tier, have managed an equally impressive rate of growth over the past 12 months.

ALB 50: Asia’s largest firms

Rank

Firm

Total lawyers & partners

Country of origin

Asia managing partner/chairman(s)

Lawyers (Asia)

Partners (Asia)

Offices in Asia

1.

Dacheng

835

China

Wang Zhongde

503

332

28

2.

Baker & McKenzie

821

US

Poh Lee Tan

574

247

14

3.

King & Wood

800

China

Wang Ling, Wang Junfeng

610

190

16

4.

DeHeng

675

China

Wang Li

590

85

14

5.

FoxMandal Little

450

India

Som Mandal

400

50

14

6.

Nishimura & Asahi

440

Japan

Akira Kosugi

358

82

1

7.

Kim & Chang

430

Korea

Young Moo Kim

310

120

1

8.

Grandall

419

China

Multiple

317

102

10

9.

Amarchand & Mangaldas

410

India

Shardul S Shroff, Cyril S Shroff

374

36

5

10.

Jun He

338

China

Xiao Wei

260

78

7

11.

JSM (operates in association with Mayer Brown and Mayer Brown International)

336

Hong Kong/ US

Elaine Lo

257

79

7

12.

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu

332

Japan

Kenichi Fujinawa

265

67

1

13.

Allen & Overy

315

UK

Thomas Brown

249

66

9

13.

AllBright

315

China

Multiple

244

71

5

15.

Lee & Ko

312

Korea

Yong Suk Yoon

211

101

2

16.

Allen & Gledhill

310

Singapore

Lucien Wong

196

114

1

17.

Linklaters

300

UK

Zili Shao

249

51

6

17.

Longan

300

China

Xu Jiali

250

50

5

19.

Zhong Lun

296

China

Zhang XueBing

208

88

5

20.

Clifford Chance

292

UK

Peter Charlton

236

56

6

21.

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto

286

Japan

Multiple

205

81

3

22.

Yoon Yang Kim Shin & Yu

282

Korea

Dong-Geul Byun

204

78

3

22.

Kangda

282

China

Fu Yang

227

55

11

23.

TMI Associates

271

Japan

Katsuro Tanaka

214

57

2

24.

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune

263

Japan

Multiple

197

66

2

25.

Zhongyin

262

China

Zhao Zenghai

226

36

16

26.

DLA Piper

255

UK

Alastair Da Costa

205

50

6

27.

Drew & Napier

250

Singapore

Davinder Singh

167

83

1

28.

Guanghe

248

China

Tong Xin

166

82

3

29.

Rajah & Tann

243

Singapore

Steven Chong

126

117

2

30.

Bae, Kim & Lee

242

Korea

Y. S. Oh

242

73

3

31.

WongPartnership

241

Singapore

Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara

170

71

2

32.

FreshfieldsBruckhaus Deringer

234

UK & Germany

Simon Marchant

206

28

6

33.

Jones Day

223

US

Multiple

169

54

7

34.

Shin & Kim

215

Korea

Doo-Sik Kim

155

60

2

34.

Zhonglun W & D

215

China

Zhang Derong

180

35

11

36.

AZB & Partners

200

India

Multiple

185

19

4

37.

Guantao

199

China

Cui Liguo

156

43

10

38.

Herbert Smith

195

UK

Multiple

151

44

6

39.

White & Case

195

US

Barrye Wall

150

45

7

40.

Lovells

189

UK

Crispin Rapinet

157

32

7

41.

Luthra & Luthra

186

India

Rajiv Luthra

160

26

3

41.

Morrison & Foerster

186

US

Multiple

135

51

5

43.

Deacons

180

Hong Kong

Lindsay Esler

133

47

4

44.

Khaitan & Co

178

India

Haigreve Khaitan

144

34

4

44.

Jincheng Tongda & Neal

178

China

Tian Yu

123

55

7

46.

Yulchon

167

Korea

Woo, Chang Rok

125

42

2

47.

Paul HastingsJanofsky & Walker

157

US

Multiple

118

39

4

48.

Global Law Offices

150

China

Liu Jinrong

110

40

2

47.

Tian Yuan

150

China

Wang Lihua

114

36

2

50.

SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan

148

Philippines

Llewellyn Llanillo

104

44

Domestic Asian firms, with their broader and often more anti-cyclical bases of work and clients, have either held on to their rankings or have registered impressive growth – sometimes through acquisitions of smaller firms and boutiques (in Korea, Hwang Mok Park recently merged with Hanseung), sometimes through aggressive programs of office openings (such as in the case of new top-ranked firm Dacheng in China). The performance of Korea’s chasing pack of firms has been particularly impressive.

India

Rank

Firm

Total lawyers & partners

Managing partner(s)

Total lawyers

Total partners

Offices

1.

FoxMandal Little*

450

Som Mandal

400

50

17

2.

Amarchand & Mangaldas

436

Shardul Shroff, Cyril Shroff

394

42

5

3.

AZB & Partners

204

Zia Mody, Ajay Bahl, Bahram Vakil

185

19

4

4.

Luthra & Luthra

186

Rajiv Luthra

160

26

3

5.

Khaitan & Co

178

Haigreve Khaitan

144

34

4

6.

J Sagar Associates

160

Jyoti Sagar, Berjis Desai

123

37

5

7.

Trilegal*

104

Management by committee

90

14

4

8.

ALMT Legal

95

Sakate Khaitan, Aliff Fazelbhoy

80

15

3

9.

Thakker & Thakker

60

Bijesh Thakker

53

7

3

10.

Titus & Co Advocates

49

Diljeet Titus

40

9

9


But with the GFC comes the spectre of slashed external legal spending by clients strapped for cash. As these companies search for efficiencies, one wonders whether more will follow the lead of mining giant Rio Tinto, which recently chose to outsource low-end work to 12 lawyers in India through the partnership with outsourcing firm CPA Global. “We’ve seen a number of different shifts in work around the world,” says Joanne Hon, CPA’s Hong Kong manager. “A lot of clients have been very receptive to moving work to lower cost centres with good human resources such as India, so the next trend will definitely be LPO.” The deal is said to save Rio Tinto around 20% in its estimated external legal spend of around US$100m. What we’re seeing here is shrinkage in the pie itself, not just how big each firms’ slice is.
However, no-one can argue with the numbers. And nowehere are the numbers bigger than in China.
As China’s prominence in the global economy grows, so too it seem, its law firms have followed. This year, the ALB 50 list includes as many as 16 firms from the PRC. Chinese firms have shown that they are emerging as serious contenders against the longer-established industry heavyweights, and some are even launching offices in regions more often targeted by international firms: Zhonglun W & D has just announced plans to launch a branch office in Riyadh, making it the first PRC firm in the Middle East.



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