King & Wood Mallesons
A leader in Asia and a work-in-progress in Europe
Think and speak of work in Asia, and you’ll be sure that King & Wood Mallesons will be on the tip of most peoples’ tongues. It’s also known for the collapse of SJ Berwin, but we don’t really talk about that anymore. With offices in over 15 countries in APAC, as well as several dotted over EMEA and Europe, the firm’s global footprint is undoubtedly impressive.
KWM, more affectionately known by the old-timers in the industry as ‘Mallies’, merged with King & Wood, a leading Chinese firm in 2012 to form what is now arguably the leading law firm in the Asia Pacific. This angle is what separates the firm from its Europe-centric competitors here in Oz and whilst we have heard rumblings about a shaky partnership initially between the Australian and the Chinese, it seems to be going strong now nearly 10 years down the track.
If you want a career focused on Asia, this is probably the best place to gain that access in Australia. Led by Renae Lattey in Australia, the firm is probably best known for its banking and finance strength, but its M&A and litigation departments are nothing to laugh at either. With its strong relationships with some of Australia’s financial institutions, don’t be surprised if you get access to some of the largest and flashiest deals in the market.
Whilst like its main competitors, Allens and HSF, it pays competitively, you’ll be expected to work for it. The perks are all there but nothing really to call home about. You’ll be expected to work hard here and whilst there are claims that this shop is the kind that will make you sweat, the people seem genuine and nice enough to bear through the painful hours.
The training (both formal and informal) is outstanding and you simply can’t go wrong with learning from some of the country’s best and experienced. Just take a look at all those Band 1 Chambers rankings (in 21 out of 27 practice areas) that they racked up in 2020 (a new record in Chambers Asia-Pacific Band 1 recognitions we’re told).
In a nutshell, if you have an affinity towards Asia (it has significant presence in China, Hong Kong and Singapore), then as a lawyer, there really isn’t another place to be career-wise in the Australian market. That’s not to say you will work on international Asian deals all the time, but it will certainly be more likely than at other firms.