It’s hardly surprising that many of the biggest law firms in Asia are Chinese and the largest is Dacheng with over 2000 lawyers while the biggest international firm is Chicago-based Baker and McKenzie.
Baker & McKenzie comes in fourth with around 1,050 lawyers in the region.
The figures come from the inaugural Asian Lawyer survey from US publisher Law.com, and they illustrate the rapid growth of the Chinese legal profession over the last two decades.
Chinese firms take second and third places in the Asia-Pacific league table – by Yinghe Law Firm with nearly 1,600 lawyers and Zhong Yin Law Firm with nearly 1,200 respectively.
There is also a large Australian contingent in the rankings. Indeed, the researchers provide separate figures for Melbourne-founded Mallesons Stephen Jacques and China’s King & Wood, who merged last March. Separately, the firms fall in fifth and 12th positions respectively; but the merged firm shoots up the table to second position with nearly 1,700 lawyers.
Other big Australian players include Freehills, which falls in sixth position with 922 lawyers, but again, the researchers point out that the firm merged with London global practice Herbert Smith last October. The combined lawyer count takes the merged firm to more than 1,100 lawyers in the region and fourth place in the table.
Rounding out the Australian presence in the top 20 are: Minter Ellison in seventh place with 821 lawyers; Allens, 9th place (746 lawyers); Clayton Utz, 10th place (743 lawyers); Blake Dawson, 11th place (703 lawyers); and Gadens in 16th place with 552 lawyers.
Apart from the recently merged Herbert Smith, the biggest UK presence in the region comes from Norton Rose, with 806 lawyers. Indeed, English firms dominate the overseas presence in the region, with the magic circle players predictably featuring prominently. According to the researchers, Allen & Overy has 412 lawyers on the ground, Clifford Chance has 375, Linklaters has 373 and Freshfields has 165.
Asia continues to become a legal market that remains dynamic with a shuffling deck of law firms jostling for position in the expanding Asian legal market.