Hong Kong ranks third most popular destination with expat lawyers - survey

Hong Kong is the third most popular destination in the world for expatriate lawyers to move to, according to a new report commissioned by business school ESCP Europe and recruiter Hydrogen.

Some 9% of legal professionals surveyed ranked the North Asian financial hub as their preferred relocation destination, beating Australia, which was the favourite of 7%, and Canada which was number one among 6%.

As for the legal professionals who had moved to Hong Kong, all said the experience had accelerated their personal development, whilst 89% said it had improved their career prospects and the same portion said it had boosted their salary.

Almost two thirds said it had been easy or very easy to adapt to the new culture, and all respondents would recommend the experience to others.

When asked about their plans for the future, almost half of the legal expatriates said they wanted to stay in Hong Kong, whilst 37% planned to go to another country and just a fifth planned to return home.

The city was beaten only by the UK, which was the preferred country for a tenth of lawyers surveyed, and the US, which was most popular for 20%.

“Whether you are a single professional in your mid-twenties, or a seasoned professional with a family, you will find the right neighbourhood in Hong Kong,” said Hydrogen’s managing director for Asia Simon Walker.

“Your experience of the place will depend on why you are there and where you live, but one thing is certain – you will enjoy an exceptionally high standard of living and quality of life.”

The Global Professionals on the Move 2013 report, which is in its fourth year, surveyed 2,000 professionals across a range of industries, based in 90 countries around the world.

As well as tracking the movement of Westerners, the research also highlighted the rising value of Asian professionals with international experience, commenting that Asians who have worked away from home but whose home countries are now becoming economic powerhouses, are today “a highly prized commodity”.

It said countries across Asia are now trying to incentivise their national talent to return home with benefits such as tax breaks.

In February, research by Legal Week found that international law firms in Hong Kong are ramping up their recruitment of Mandarin speakers, with almost every firm who responded to the survey increasing the number of Chinese-speaking lawyers in their Hong Kong offices since 2011.

Those significantly boosting their Mandarin-speaking recruits in the last 24 months include Ashurst, DLA Piper and Davis Polk & Wardwell.

As well as being a hotspot for legal professionals, Hong Kong also emerged as the fifth most popular destination for finance executives and eighth across all industry sectors, according to the Hydrogen and ESCP report.

Further, it was the second most popular destination behind the United Arab Emirates for all expatriate professionals to stay on longer than they originally intended, beating Singapore which came in ninth.

Related: Hong Kong lawyers in demand as global firms fight for Chinese speakers