Hong Kong In-House Legal Salary Survey & Guide 2016

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1 Hong Kong In-House Legal Salary Survey & Guide

2 Overview Throughout 2015 the Hong Kong legal market remained steady. We saw predominately replacement roles on offer from multinational organisations, whilst a number of PRC and local firms were able to offer newly created roles. Although there are still a number of multinational companies that have their legal teams based in Hong Kong, the trend for multinationals to move to China remains. As a result, many Hong Kong based legal teams are smaller and report to a North Asian hub often based in Shanghai or Beijing. Family companies and listed PRC companies have produced the most demand for legal talent, and there is a high demand for Mandarin speaking lawyers or those with PRC exposure. As most of these corporates have been proactively developing their business in both the domestic market and overseas, there are quite a few newly created headcounts within these organisations. Some of the largest PRC entities are now looking for transactional, international lawyers to help with overseas acquisitions, which is a relatively new skill requirement. There are also an increasing demand for functional specialists such as TMT, data privacy, employment, and litigation. In most Hong Kong listed companies, lawyers are often expected to undertake company secretarial duties. This favours corporate lawyers due to their familiarity with company law. Most requirements are for those with 5 to10 years of PQE, and we have seen more replacement roles than new openings. Employers are also looking for the right personality fit, with many looking to hire robust commercial professionals that can manage the business. Commercial lawyers are keen to gain experience in different areas and broaden their career scope so that they can sustain their market value. Some legal and compliance candidates are increasingly considering contract roles as a way of breaking into an organisation or gaining new skills in a growing area, such as compliance. Contract roles can offer more senior candidates the flexibility to take time off when they need to. However, overall this remains a small proportion of hires in the legal and compliance space. Skills in Demand There is favourable demand for corporate lawyers that have both in-house and law firm experience and capable in accommodating a broad range of legal work from general commercial to corporate transactions. Most Hong Kong listed companies look for Hong Kong qualified corporate lawyers, given their listing rules. Corporate lawyers need to have solid drafting, commercial contracts and transaction management experience. Due to the changes of the global regulatory environment, companies have placed more emphasis on lawyers undertaking compliance focused work including advising on FCPA, anti-bribery legislation and general compliance training. Some lawyers have also moved into a pure compliance role due to its growing importance and the more generous hiring budgets given to compliance heads. What was previously seen as a reactive role is now an influential, business-facing function and is attracting more dynamic candidates. Legal training and experience is often seen as a plus, both in terms of interpreting regulations but also due to the persuasive skillset and stakeholder influencing skills lawyers often have. Recruitment Challenges There is a relatively large pool of lawyers in Hong Kong, but finding the right fit still remains a challenge. Balancing factors such as an employer s budget, the candidate personality and cultural fit and occasionally finding a niche skill set can prolong a search. Hong Kong is a very financial / capital market centric market, so many lawyers have limited marketability for a commercial role. They are usually well paid in private practice and their work pace and style is quite different from in-house work. Many have found it more difficult than expected to transfer their skill set. There is a gap between core skills these lawyers have and the nature of the role on offer. Consequently, many lawyers are now becoming more proactive in gaining relevant exposure from a very junior level in private practice. They often seek to diversify into a broader commercial or corporate role to ensure that it can facilitate a move in-house at the desired point. Most in-house roles require lawyers to be independent, practical and commercial, thus lawyers with previous in-house secondment experience are favourably considered. Local law firms are still considered to be a major pool for sourcing China Legal Private Practice Salary Survey & Guide

3 candidates, mostly due to their diversity across different practice areas and the substantial commercial work they have been exposed to. Affordability is another factor. These lawyers do not tend to be as expensive and consequently the salary reduction is not as marked. As ever with in-house hiring, personality traits remain a high priority with a focus on lawyers with gravitas, dynamism and the ability to hold their own with senior members of the business. Senior or general counsel opportunities often only arise in the event of a departure. Given the talent available in the market, these opportunities can be competitive and we often see internal candidates hired. might gear compensation towards a higher bonus level. Some listed companies offer stocks to increase retention levels, which also contributes to a large proportion of the compensation package. There are usually additional benefits for senior staff including long-term share schemes and other allowances. Employers have a preference to source talent from the local market and few offer expat packages such as housing. If they do bring in overseas lawyers there is a tendency to only offer local rates. For those seeking a lateral move, financial incentives remain important and most obtained an increase of approximately 15-20%. The salary differential in moving into an in-house commerce role from private practice can be substantial and it remains a challenge to manage candidate expectations. This is particularly acute with respect to lawyers receiving salaries based on US pay scales. To compound this challenge, annual increments on in-house salaries can be significantly more conservative than law firms where the lockstep system abounds and lawyers often see their salary increase by around 10% or more at each annual salary review. The bonuses available in-house can be attractive, but factoring in all of the above, the reduction can still be substantial and we encourage candidates to take a long-term view of their career. Role attributes such as work/ life balance, autonomy that an in house role can afford and the increased capacity to adopt a business facing counsel role all need to be highlighted as major positives for those making the transition. The contradiction remains in that the general perception is law firms are the most coveted source of talent for in-house roles. However, evidence suggests that lawyers in an existing in-house role are preferred. Private practice lawyers with secondment experience do have some marketability as they have a perceived deeper understanding of the differences and challenges of an in-house role. For employers, convincing corporate headquarters in the US and Europe that increased salaries are necessary to attract top talent in Asia can prove a challenge. Retaining and managing internal talent is more important than ever. Compensation Salaries in the Hong Kong in-house commerce sector, outside of financial services, have remained stable with many employers offering only modest annual increments. Most salary increments were around 3% - 5%, and discretionary bonuses ranged between 10-25%, although local companies The salary ranges in the tables below are quite wide which is indicative of the market we are representing. There are a host of reasons for this including, but not limited to, the type of role, organisation, typical workload and the kind of skills/ practice areas required. Forecast for 2016 We see a continuing appetite for hiring mid-level lawyers who speak Mandarin and have Hong Kong qualifications. There is also a preference for those with some in-house exposure. There will be opportunities for those interested in compliance and regulatory related disciplines. Functional specialists in the areas of TMT, compliance, privacy, and employment will remain in high demand. However, we expect to see fewer new roles created within international companies, but when they are, they are more likely to be a sole counsel for North Asia or Pan Asia. Lawyers with a strong commercial mind set and those who can demonstrate their adaptability to an in-house environment will be the most successful at building a long term in-house career. China Legal Private Practice Salary Survey & Guide

4 Salary Scales Legal Salary Ranges in Hong Kong PQE Minimum Monthly Salary Range (HKD) Maximum Average Annual Bonus ,000 85,000 85, , , , , , , , , ,000 PQE/ Experience Company Assistant Company Officer Senior Company Officer Deputy Company Officer Company Secretary Group Company Secretary Monthly Salary Range (HKD) Experience Min Max Average Annual Bonus 0-2 Years 20,000 30, months 3-5 Years 30,000 40, months 6-8 Years 37,000 60, months 9-11 Years 50,000 85, months Years 70, , month 15+ Years 110, , month Holiday entitlement generally ranges from days China Legal Private Practice Salary Survey & Guide

5 Contacts Elaine Weng Director Legal, Compliance & Private Practice Hong Kong & Shanghai, North Asia Elaine is a Director of the In-House Legal & Compliance team focusing on mid to senior level and General Counsel hires across Asia. She has over 8 years of experience recruiting for multinationals throughout Asia and her experience extends across the full remit of the legal and compliance functions. She has successfully placed a variety of Counsels, regulatory and compliance professionals as well as Associate roles for major UK and US firms in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore. Elaine has an in-depth market knowledge and her extensive networks in the region give her access to high-calibre candidates. She is also able to offer clients advice on market trends and compensation levels. Before joining Aquis Search, Elaine worked with a global legal recruiting brand for many years and held an in-house recruitment role with an international law firm. Elaine has a Bachelor of Laws degree from Shanghai University where she majored in Intellectual Property Law. She speaks fluent English, Mandarin, Shanghainese as well as conversational Spanish. Samantha Lai Senior Consultant Legal, Compliance & Private Practice Hong Kong, Asia Pacific Samantha is a Senior Consultant in the In-House Legal & Compliance team based in Hong Kong. She recruits legal professionals from middle to senior level with a primary focus on the commerce industry in the Asia Pacific region, including Senior Legal Counsel, Senior Legal Manager and IP Counsel. She has an in-depth working knowledge of the Hong Kong market and offers clients advice on compensation as well as hiring trends. Prior to joining Aquis Search, Samantha worked for an international search firm in the legal sector. She has extensive networks with legal professionals in the region and has successfully placed lawyers into leading financial institutions, Fortune 500 companies, Hong Kong listed companies and international law firms. Samantha has a Bachelor s Degree in Accountancy. She speaks fluent English, Mandarin and Cantonese. China Legal Private Practice Salary Survey & Guide

6 About Aquis Search Aquis Search is a regional leader for Corporate Governance and Control functions recruitment covering roles in Finance, Human Resources & Corporate Services, Legal, Risk and Compliance. We operate from offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Mumbai handling search assignments in numerous Asian countries. Our clients are members of a global network of prestigious financial institutions, leading UK & US law firms and many of the largest companies within the Fortune 500. Professional integrity is the key value on which our client relationships are built and the majority of our business is the result of personal referral. This is testament to the high level of professionalism for which we are known. For further information please contact Aquis Search below or to Hong Kong: 19/F, Kailey Tower, 16 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong Singapore: 11/F Straits Trading Building, 9 Battery Road, Singapore Shanghai: Unit B21, 22/F, Tower 3, Jing An Kerry Centre, 1228 Middle Yan an Road, Shanghai, China Taipei: 8F., No.367, Fuxing N. Rd., Songshan Dist, Taipei City 105 Taiwan Beijing: Room 68, China Life West, 5/F, China Life Tower, No.16 Chaowai Street, Chaoyang district, Beijing Mumbai: 1012, Level 1, Regus Bandra Kurla Complex, Trade Center, Bandra, Mumbai Delhi: Suite 422, Level 4, Rectangle 1, Commercial Complex D-4, Saket, New Delhi , India China Legal Private Practice Salary Survey & Guide

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