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As we work and shop from the comfort of our homes using multiple devices at the same time, our digital footprints have only ever increased tremendously. Corporations are also investing more in technology such as data collection and management to power blockchain, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Hong Kong SAR’s data centre market is also projected to be worth $2.5 billion by 2025.

The growing data being stored and managed in Hong Kong SAR explains the constantly evolving requirements of data protection. The Personal Data Privacy laws are also updated regularly to complement sector-specific legislative frameworks such as in technology or financial services. Every proposed change aims to further tighten the regime to safeguard data from misuse and to build trust between users and the companies that manage their data in reflection of today’s highly-versatile digital environment.

 job opportunities in tech and finance industries
 job opportunities in tech and finance industries

Factored together, companies are now looking either to expand their legal teams or replace attrited headcount and onboard data privacy lawyers to keep up with new and tighter legislation and regulatory frameworks. 

expanding teams of data privacy lawyers

The data privacy legal landscape in the region has grown significantly over the past few years to keep up with the digital revolution and increasingly stringent privacy regulations. Rampant cyber attacks and the increasing threat have brought about more investments in cyber insurance, including the hiring of experienced in-house lawyers with data privacy and cyber background.

corporate lawyers with a background working in technology most sought-after

We have observed a growing demand for technology and transactional lawyers in recent months. Corporate lawyers with experience working in the technology industries are highly sought-after for their knowledge, expertise and network. 

However, it is not a prerequisite for legal professionals to have worked in technology firms for these new roles. Employers that are looking to fill in-house legal positions are also recruiting experienced professionals who have serviced and represented technology clients while in a law firm. 

As the region’s tier-one financial hub, there remains a steady demand for corporate and transaction lawyers to facilitate IPOs as well as mergers & acquisitions in Hong Kong SAR. 

While there was a demand for legal professionals to manage insolvency and business restructuring projects last year, we’ve observed that the hiring activities in this space have slowed down. Many businesses have already completed their change management and cost-cutting projects in response to the pandemic and are now more focused on recovery and growth. 

traditional banks are expanding their in-house legal teams

Financial institutions, even traditional firms, are investing heavily in data privacy and the search for experienced legal professionals has heated up in Hong Kong SAR. 

Virtual banks and financial technology firms, for example, need to have robust regulatory frameworks to build customer awareness of how their data will be managed, used and protected. While blockchain and decentralised financing opens a new world filled with opportunities, they also pose significant legal risks as all the data is being stored virtually. 

The trend of hiring in-house legal professionals to prepare and protect the corporation from data and security risks is now considered a standard requirement. As financial institutions move towards digitising and automating more of their operations, we will see a corresponding increased demand for capable and experienced legal professionals. 

Virtual banks and fintechs tend to establish and keep small in-house legal teams, while traditional banking firms are aggressively hiring legal professionals who have 5 to 10 post-qualified experience (PQE) to build their legal capabilities.

upskill for better human capital

Prior to the pandemic, companies tended to hire legal professionals from the UK, US or Singapore as a fast talent solution to close the skills gap or meet urgent business requirements. However, border control measures and increasing specifications for talent demand in the legal market has led to a widening skills gap and a shortage of candidates who are able to fulfill these job and business requirements. 

Hong Kong SAR is a melting pot of lawyers with different types of qualifications. To stand out from their peers, legal professionals need to upskill themselves and keep pace with new updates and legislative requirements. Employers can also sponsor and assist their skills and career development through network mentorship or industry training programmes to expand their portfolio and specialisation in technology. 

Aligned with the boost in digitalisation and digitisation, candidates who have expertise and knowledge about the digital landscape will have a competitive advantage when looking for jobs. 

improved working conditions are making it more difficult for employers to hire

Notorious for long hours and tight deadlines, the legal  industry has in recent years cleaned up and is paying more attention to their employees’ welfare and well-being as well as initiating better work-life balance. Many international law firms have invested to try to improve the working conditions by hiring more headcount to spread the workload and revising their remuneration package to reflect their true work contributions and expertise. 

work life balance in legal profession
work life balance in legal profession

When looking for new employment, legal professionals are typically drawn to highly-attractive salary and benefits. Some of their other considerations include work flexibility and the company’s response to COVID-19. There is also growing interest from legal professionals to join Chinese companies or law firms as these employers are fast growing and able to offer great bonuses. 

get to know the randstad’s legal recruitment team

Our specialised consultants help corporate companies in commercial, financial services and private practice identify and recruit legal professionals with local, Asia Pacific or international expertise. They cover roles such as head of legal, in-house legal counsels, corporate governance, lawyers, paralegals and more. 

Whether you are looking to replace a headcount or expand your legal capabilities, our legal recruitment team is ready to assist your talent needs. Similarly, if you’re a legal professional who is looking for a new and exciting employment opportunity, we’re here for you too! Contact our team for a consultation.

download the 2021 2H hong kong legal market outlook.

randstad blue suite

The Randstad Blue Suite is a collection of personal insights from the Randstad leadership team.

leadership insights in hong kong
leadership insights in hong kong
about the author

Kamil Butt, Manager - Legal

randstad hong kong

With more than six years’ recruitment experience, Kamil leads the Randstad Hong Kong’s legal division, recruiting legal professionals across all seniority levels for firms in commercial, financial services and private practice.