31 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – AUGUST 2023 ROUNDTABLE abnormal” for all of us, and shows no sign of abating. Asian markets are diverse, and we’ve seen an uptick in client activity that reflects that diversity. Private capital and energy transition investment has continued in Asia with fewer concerns than in other global markets. The ease with which hybrid financing is available from both private, public and government sources in Asia further strengthens that activity. Where trouble has arisen, our firm’s global and Asia strength in dispute resolution provides a valuable hedge, and we are only now seeing the first sizable pandemic-linked disputes coming to formal arbitration. Geographically, Indonesia is a hotspot, feeding into an overall positive market across Southeast Asia nations for the firm. Japan has also been strong for us, particularly in energy transition and new technologies. China is only six months into its post-pandemic recovery, and predictions right now are premature, but we are already seeing an uptick in deals across certain corridors – China/Middle East, for instance, and renewed activity in the Greater Bay Area. Paul Jenkins, chief executive officer, Ashurst: High inflation, supply chain disruptions and geopolitical concerns are continuing to feed into softer economic conditions both in Asian markets and across each of the global jurisdictions in which we operate. There is naturally increasing caution for some of our clients, but this also means businesses need quality legal advice. As a firm, we are not immune from short-term economic challenges, but we have a well-hedged, diversified global business model and plan to continue growing our presence in Asia. For example, we have seen our revenue grow by 4 percent in Asia in the last financial year, and average growth of nearly 10 percent year-on-year over the last five years. The strongest markets for growth in the previous financial year were mainland China, Hong Kong and Indonesia, with significant growth occurring in our Singapore office over the last three years. Steven Sieker, chief executive, Asia, Baker McKenzie: The last two years have certainly been challenging, but we were able to adapt to fastchanging client demands and reorient our business to counter-cyclical practice areas and higher growth markets where needed to stay resilient. Persistently high inflation, interest rates and market volatility have weighed on dealmaking globally. That said, this challenging environment has spurred more companies to shed noncore assets, and we have seen an uptick in the number of sale processes and private equityrelated deals across Asia. The increased regulatory scrutiny around deals, including antitrust, foreign investment rules and ESG requirements, has also given rise to more regulatory compliance and disputes work for our firm. Our funds, debt restructuring, and employment teams also remain busy. Margaret Robertson, CEO, Withers: These global issues have created uncertainty for private clients and private capital investing globally, resulting in cooling-off for investment activity, but with a simultaneous increase in cross-border disputes. We are focused on futureproofing our business by focusing on opportunities arising from the new economy, such as increasing investment in life sciences businesses, the fluctuating fortunes of crypto investment, or advising our clients on how best to hold and pass on digital assets. ALB: Client needs have changed a lot recently regarding fee and payment arrangements. Law firms have also been looking closely at costs and growing sustainably. What do you think are the fundamentals of a strong financial model in the legal industry, especially in Asia? D’Agostino: Our clients demand a very specific blend of local and global talent and services, and a more flexible and responsive pricing model. We are seeing and embracing the growing use of innovative fee structures. Jenkins: We find clients weigh a number of considerations regarding legal advice, including quality of the advice, reputation, timeliness and value for D’Agostino Jenkins Sieker Robertson