Legal hiring trends in Asia Pacific tech landscape – A 2023 insight

Autor Cassandra Lim
September 26, 2023

A shift in demand:

Compared to the previous year, there is a noticeable decrease in legal hiring across the tech sector. This shift is primarily attributed to macro-economic headwinds, as the global economy experiences a slowdown after two years of remarkable growth.

Resilience amidst challenges:

Some forward-thinking companies have initiated internal schemes to redeploy and retrain their talent for other business areas. However, regrettably, a significant proportion of corporations chose to part ways with employees. This has created a unique situation in 2023 with an abundance of high-quality candidates in the market, a trend not seen in recent years.

Core skills needed:

In the midst of these fluctuations, major tech giants like Amazon, Spotify, Meta, Microsoft, and Google, while laying off 5 to 10% of their global workforce, are still actively recruiting legal professionals. These hires are aimed at addressing critical issues such as data privacy, antitrust matters, intellectual property and regulatory compliance.

Challenges faced by smaller players:

Young tech startups and scale-ups, many of whom have yet to turn a profit, are facing their share of challenges this year. Asian tech companies like Carousell, Shopee, Grab and Gojek have witnessed layoffs, driven by various factors including funding constraints and market consolidation.

This has driven legal professionals towards larger, more established players as candidates have a more risk-averse attitude in making a career move.

The skills in demand:

Expertise in cybersecurity and data privacy laws remains at the forefront of talent demands, as compliance with Asia’s evolving data protection regulations remains a top priority for companies.

As the US and Europe implement ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) regulations, the need for lawyers experienced in operationalizing sustainability regulations across multiple jurisdictions is rising. This demand is especially pronounced in global tech companies with international footprints.

The dawn of AI in law:

The legal field is experiencing a transformative shift with the emergence of generative AI, which is set to reduce the workload of junior lawyers significantly.

Leading the charge, Allen & Overy became the first Magic Circle law firm in 2023 to introduce a chatbot designed to assist lawyers in drafting contracts and client memos.

As ‚legal AI assistants‘ become commonplace, General Counsels are seeking lawyers with skills in areas such as project management, process improvement, and data analytics.

In conclusion:

While the current climate presents its share of challenges, it’s also an opportunity for innovation and growth for tech lawyers.

Those who have the foresight to anticipate and invest in skills and knowledge that will be in high demand in the coming years will position themselves as experts in these emerging areas.

How do you make the most out of your partnership with us?

Two-way feedback process: Every recruitment process starts with a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves given by the hiring manager. As your recruiter, we know the talent pool inside out, and are here to advise on which of the must-haves are realistic and achievable in today’s market.

Trust us when we advise that you may need to broaden the search to look at international talent, or candidates with fewer years of desired experience but with high potential, or if the budget needs to be increased to get your dream candidate.

Swift feedback: When talent is scarce, keeping candidates warm by giving detailed feedback after each interview round, and moving quickly to next rounds, ensures that we don’t end up losing candidates to other companies.

As the world’s leading specialist legal recruitment firm, we are not interested in making a quick placement. Our commitment is in helping you build strong, sustainable legal teams.

For further information on the subject, or to discuss your career or hiring needs – please reach out to Cassandra Lim.

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