Davis Polk & Wardwell and Korean law firm Lee & Ko were among the biggest winners at the fifth annual Asia Legal Awards, held last week at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong.
Davis Polk stood out from a group that included Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), Kirkland & Ellis, Morgan Lewis & Bockius and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, and for the second year in a row, claimed the International Law Firm of the Year award.
Davis Polk was also awarded Dispute Resolution Firm of the Year, while Asia managing partner William Barron was named Securities Lawyer of the Year.
UK law firms to take home awards included Simmons & Simmons, which was named Employment Firm of the Year, and Watson Farley & Williams, which came out top in the Shipping and Maritime Firm of the Year category.
Two Freshfields lawyers were among the individual winners, with global M&A co-head Robert Ashworth named M&A Lawyer of the Year and Asia international arbitration head Nicholas Lingard recognised as International Arbitration Lawyer of the Year.
Meanwhile, Seoul-based Lee & Ko took home Asian Law Firm of the Year. The finalists in that category included Singapore’s Allen & Gledhill, India’s Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, Indonesia’s Hiswara Bunjamin & Tandjung, and China’s Han Kun Law Offices and Zhong Lun Law Firm. The 590-lawyer Korean firm also took home Finance Firm of the Year and Insurance Firm of the Year.
Mumbai-based Cyril Amarchand received Firm of the Year awards in the energy and private client practices. Skadden, whose head of China practice Julie Gao was named International Law Firm Leader of the Year, also won M&A Firm of the Year.
Asian Law Firm Leader of the Year went to Jonathan Zhou, management chair of China’s Fangda Partners.
Korean firm Bae Kim & Lee’s programme to support local firefighters received the Asian Pro Bono Initiative of the Year. HSF’s diversity and inclusion programme among Asia-Pacific offices was awarded the inaugural Asian Diversity Initiative of the Year, which intends to honour initiatives law firms implement in Asia to improve diversity in gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability.
EYulchon, an interactive mobile application launched by Korea’s Yulchon for in-house legal departments, was the first winner of the Asian Technology and Innovation Initiative of the Year award. US litigation specialist Kobre & Kim’s two-and-a-half-year-old Seoul office took home the debut New Asian Office of the Year.
Japanese automaker Nissan received Asian In-House Legal Department of the Year award, while legal teams at Ant Financial, adidas, Shanghai Real Estate and Uber were recognised in their respective sectors.