Welcome buzz. There’s lots of interesting work here for native-English-speaking lawyers, especially now that you speak a little Chinese (which I don’t). I would suggest, however, that you forget about your past experience and start learning about international commercial, corporate, technology and IP law. That’s where most of the work is for foreign lawyers in Asia and those are great fields of practice.
I practiced law in California for 10 years before coming to Taiwan. Like you, I did lots of litigation, in my case involving property disputes, employment, personal injuries, and so forth. I had no experience in the types of matters I mentioned in the above paragraph. But since coming here 6 years ago I’ve worked my way into those fields, gaining lots of great experience as I worked up from one job to the next. My first position in a Taiwan law firm (after teaching kindy and conversation classes) was as an instructor of legal writing and US law. After a year, they refused to hire me as an attorney, so I moved on to an in-house position with a leading US tech company. That ended so I joined a local law firm and got lots of great experience drafting agreements mostly for the manufacturing, sale, distribution and licensing of IP and technology, along with other matters. Finally, after 2.5 years, that firm closed down, so I’m now the #2 lawyer in one of Taiwan’s most successful tech companies. It’s a terrific position and I’m very happy.
When I first graduated from law school I was excited about litigation: building a case against the oponent, filing opposing arguments and going into court to fight it out. But I quickly got tired of all the anger, hostility, lies, dirty tricks, pig-headed stupidity and irrational craziness of personal litigation, which is why I quit all of that and headed to Asia without a clear alternative. It’s worked out well. I find technology and IP law extremely interesting, it pays well, is much more rational and productive than personal litigation, and it’s among the hottest areas of law, with abundant work around the world.
One doesn’t need to speak Chinese to practice international commercial law in Taiwan or elsewhere in Asia. There’s plenty of work in English. When agreements are entered into between companies from two Asian countries, or an Asian country and a European or American country, they’re always in English. And big companies require a constant stream of written agreements.
I recommend that you learn about such new fields of law as I did. I’m confident you’ll find work that you find interesting and with experience your opportunities will only get better. Check the 104 job Website for legal positions and search martindale.com and apply with all the Taiwan law firms listed there. You may have to wait a few months, but you’ll find a position.