2021/2022 Legal Salary Guide, Hong Kong – Overview in General
The year 2021 started with a strong growth after the relatively conservative year of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on hiring. It has been observed that many international firms experiencing a headcount freeze for the year 2020. However, the job market in Hong Kong has slowly adjusted and recovered since the last quarter of 2020 when the world economy started to heal.
In particular, Mainland China has come back with strong demands, which has led to a tangible increase in transactional roles in Hong Kong. It is expected the already strong presence of the Chinese companies will increase in the Hong Kong market given their impressive growth in size and revenues in Mainland China.
We expect to see an increase in talent demand from law firms that have a strong and rapidly growing Chinese client base to manage the rising volume of deals. This would lead to a busy and active legal job market in the practice areas of Corporate, Capital Market, Funds Investment and Management, Compliance and Regulatory, and so on.
Since the announcement of the blueprint for the Greater Bay Area (GBA) initiative in 2019, it continues encouraging the rise of both domestic and international capital and creating new opportunities for infrastructure, innovation, and technology in Hong Kong. With a more integrated and open GBA, further development of various industries will be promising.
This will provide law firms with new opportunities to meet various needs in the area. Against the backdrop of the GBA blueprint, conservative firms choose to ride the fence till they find a better or mature timing. In contrast, some international and PRC firms responded quickly to the new policy and made good use of it. Those firms launched their new offices in GBA and targeted at potential areas of growth such as Corporate transactions, Wealth Management, Compliance, IP/IT, and cross-border Disputes.
The market is expected to grow rapidly with more cross-border investment businesses, which is undeniably an essential source of revenue for firms in Hong Kong.
Generally speaking, lawyers with both native-level Mandarin proficiency and cultural understanding are expected to be better at tying up with Chinese clients. While there is certainly a steady demand for lawyers who are native speakers or the equivalent, those who at the same time have an excellent command of English are advantageous for having the capability to bridge cultural gaps between the West and the East.