Webb-site Who's Who covers HK solicitors
12 January 2018
Many Webb-site users will be familiar with Webb-site Who's Who (WWW), HK's leading database on companies, organisations and people. WWW includes, amongst other things, all HK-listed company directors since 1990 and all SFC-licensed firms and people since 1-Apr-2003 when the Securities and Futures Ordinance took effect. We also include all members of the HKSAR Election Committee since inception in 1996, the Executive Council, Legislative Council, District Councils since 1999, the Judiciary, and the members of all HK statutory and advisory bodies.
Today, we are pleased to launch coverage and analysis of HK solicitors and their firms, using data collected from the Law List published by the Law Society (which, for the avoidance of doubt, has not given us any special access). This was a difficult project programmed by your Editor fuelled by a lot of Christmas pudding, given that the Law Society web pages do not have consistent identity codes for each lawyer and firm (they keep renumbering), also given that surnames and given names are not shown separately and names of law firms are often shown back-to-front.
Here is a brief guide to the pages launched today. In each page, click column headings to sort the tables.
- HK law firms lists all firms with their numbers of practising HK solicitors, with tallies of Partners, Assistant Solicitors, Consultants and Sole Proprietors. Currently this shows that the largest law firm is Deacons with 193 professionals. The firm with the most partners is Mayer Brown JSM with 64. There are 892 firms, of which 424 are sole proprietorships and 186 of those have no other solicitors on staff. Between them there are 6,943 positions, although some people hold a position at more than 1 law firm. The top 78 firms by size account for half of the positions.
- Solicitors in HK law firms by year of admission to HK shows that of the 6,776 solicitors in HK law firms, a whopping 507 were admitted as solicitors in 2016. By comparison, only 146 admitted in 2006 are still practising in HK law firms. There is of course a survivor bias in these data. Some people leave law firms to work for non-law firms, others simply take time out, move overseas or die. Keep in mind that there are also a lot of solicitors who qualified in other places before being admitted in HK. Still, the data show that half of the current HK lawyers in law firms were admitted since 2005. You can also filter by role. For example, if we look at partners separately, we see that of 2,246 people who are partners in one or more law firm, the largest cohorts are 111 admitted in 1997 and 110 in 1996.
- Solicitors in HK law firms is a more detailed look, showing every person's role in every law firm. The award for the earliest-admitted person still practising in a law firm goes to Irene Ngan Kit Ling, daughter of the founder of China Motor Bus. She was admitted in Sep-1956, which was over a year before the space age began with the launch of Sputnik in Oct-1957.
- Moves in HK law firms shows the 100 most recent "legal moves" detected by our system. These include intra-firm movements such as promotion of an Assistant Solicitor to Partner, or a person who steps down as Partner to become a Consultant, or leaves one firm and/or joins another. The table is sorted by recency. We can't be sure of the exact dates when moves take place, only when we first detect them in the Law List, so we are only showing these to the nearest month unless separately disclosed.
- HK solicitors admitted overseas shows which other jurisdictions HK's current lawyers (whether practising or not) have been admitted in, how many in each place, and of those, how many were admitted there before being admitted in HK, or afterwards. Unsurprisingly, 3,402 HK solicitors have been admitted in England & Wales, of whom 40.7% were admitted there before HK. In second place is New South Wales, Australia with 409, of whom 84.6% were admitted there before HK. Of the 69 jurisdictions we found, 19 have only 1 lawyer admitted in HK, including plucky little Nauru, the World's third-smallest state after the Vatican and Monaco. Note that this list does not include "Foreign Lawyers" who work in HK but do not practise HK law. We have found those to be too difficult to automatically track for now. Click on any jurisdiction to see the HK solicitors who were admitted there. For example, these 24 people have been admitted to the District of Columbia, USA.
- Non-law firms with HK solicitors shows a list of known non-law firms which employ HK solicitors, whether practising or not. Topping the list is the Securities and Futures Commission with 67 (including its CEO), followed by HSBC with 55 and HKEX and Standard Chartered currently tied at 30. This list is inherently incomplete, because not all Law Society members report their affiliations. Some who are non-practising probably forget to pay their membership fees and drop off the list altogether but could still return. Others report such a vague employer-name that we cannot identify a relevant legal entity to associate them with in our database. When we find them, they are shown as "Solicitor" in our positions database, but that should not be taken to mean that is their main role at the company involved. They may also be a CEO or CFO for example.
The database will be updated regularly, and after a period of time we will be able to show time-series data such as the number of solicitors in each law firm over time, so we will add those features. In the meantime, if you have any additional feature requests, let us know.
We encourage all professional bodies in whose professionals the public places its trust to be more transparent with their professional registers. We would, for example, like to produce a similar analysis of professional accountants, but their affiliations are not published by the HKICPA, so we cannot tell you what the headcount, turnover rate or experience of people working at audit firms is.
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