Here you’ll meet and discover more about our dedicated people, the work they do and what it’s like to be part of our diverse team.
I was always quite a mathematical person, so pursuing an engineering degree felt completely natural. I studied for a Masters in Civil Engineering at Durham, where I had an amazing time and worked at an engineering company called Halcrow over the holidays.
After I graduated, I worked at Halcrow for three years before moving to another engineering firm. It was then that I first started to consider a change of career. Initially I thought about training as an accountant, because I’ve always been good with numbers, but one of my colleagues recommended a law conversion course. I was working on-site at the time and had actually helped with a contract dispute, so the idea really interested me.
I decided to do a part-time conversion (GDL) and went to BPP in Waterloo two evenings a week, fitting it in around my full-time engineering job. It was fantastic to learn contractual law and tort, as they were terms that I’d heard bandied about but not really understood before. And after that, I just thought “I’m going to start applying for training contracts now” – so that’s what I did.
There were actually seven years and the births of my two children (now aged two and three) between starting the law conversion and starting my training at Mayer Brown. When I was making my applications, I tried to look for firms that were good with construction and where I could really make the most of my experience. Mayer Brown really stood out in that sense, but the fact that it was full-service was also very appealing, I didn’t want to be tied to construction forever.
I’ve just recently qualified for the Finance department and, with the benefits (and the contacts) of one career behind me, I feel ready to take some big steps up the ladder.
I studied law at university in London, qualifying as a lawyer couple of years later. After that, I went back to Hong Kong and started work at Mayer Brown JSM. I’ve been in Hong Kong for 25 years now.
I initially chose to join Mayer Brown JSM because, at the time, it was the firm to join. It had, and still has, a very wide client base and is widely regarded to get all the most important cases. It was my first position after training, and I was very happy.
After about two years, I was approached by a number of different headhunters. I explained that I was happy where I was but was ultimately convinced to have a chat with another firm. That chat turned into an hour-long conversation, after which I was made an offer that I found very difficult to refuse. I was offered the chance to work in construction, which is what I do now, and the rest is history. I was there for three years and developed my specialty.
Spending time away from Mayer Brown JSM helped me understand how good the firm is and just how strong the support services are. I was asked to rejoin by one of the partners, and I took advantage of the opportunity to come back.
I might have been gone for three years, but everyone remembered me when I returned to the office – even the tea lady. It’s a very friendly culture. In construction, particularly, we’re very warm. We go on a weekend away together every year – we’ve been to Japan, Singapore, Thailand – and it’s quite a party.
Even though I studied biology and engineering, I always found the concept of law interesting. I was particularly attracted to the intellectual challenge of litigation, the fight of the argument and the thought of getting up in front of a judge and jury really excited me. I didn’t want to leave technology behind though, and that’s how I ended up practicing patent litigation.
The excitement of litigation is similar to the thrill I get from riding motorbikes. I inherited my love of bikes from my dad and bought my very first, a 1984 Honda Interceptor, when I was in college. My dad taught me how to ride safely, and, when I moved back to San Diego after law school we started taking our bikes to the racetrack. I’ve had sports cars, motorcycles and classic cars ever since.
I find that riding bikes gives me a sense of focus, as well as a release from the pressures of my job. Litigation can be very exciting, especially when you’re dealing with short deadlines and depositions, but it can also be very intense. When I’m riding, especially at high speeds, I get a real sense of freedom – there isn’t anything to think about except the ride itself.
With both litigation and riding, the adrenaline is what keeps me coming back for more. I get to combine the two when I ride to the office, but I’ve yet to convince any colleagues to take a ride on the back of my bike.
As a Senior Associate in Restructuring, Bankruptcy and Insolvency, my role is all about problem-solving. I’m often dealing with stressed people in stressful situations, so keeping everything together can be challenging. A couple of the skills I rely on are creativity and collaboration – the same skills I use when I perform with my band, The Taxable Prophets.
The Taxable Prophets is a Mayer Brown band. It was originally formed for a charity fundraiser, “Mayer Brown’s Got Talent”, and consists of two lawyers and three accountants. I joined a couple of years ago.
We play a wide variety of music, a mixture of rock and pop, and we’ve played a couple of gigs in Camden. We also performed the night before my festival-themed wedding, which was great fun. Being on stage together is fantastic; I find it very exciting to produce one sound out of a group of different people.
The band is a pretty good reflection of Mayer Brown’s culture. Everyone is very friendly and keen to work together, but more than that, they’re creative, too. We’re not machines – we’re real people, and we enjoy doing things outside of the office together. The fact that the band isn’t just made up of lawyers also demonstrates that there aren’t any boundaries in the office – everyone is very open.
I’ve always been interested in Asia. I first visited when I was 16, and it was totally different from anywhere I’d ever been before. A couple of years later, I spent eight months in Malaysia before going to university in the UK. Then I took a Master’s in Chinese studies, which allowed me to blend my legal studies with my interest in Asia. It worked well, and I was able to train in Hong Kong, where I qualified as a lawyer. My wife and I have been here for seven years now.
Hong Kong is famous for its incredibly long working hours, but, as far as law firms go, Mayer Brown strikes a good balance. Everyone here works hard, but I don’t think we have a culture of working for the sake of it. On top of that, it’s a friendly place to work. I’ve been here since 2009, and a lot of the people on my team have been here for about the same amount of time. It says a lot about the firm, that we’re able to keep people for so long.
Hong Kong itself is very much a 24-hour city – it’s very cosmopolitan – and, outside the office, life is mostly conducted in Cantonese. I speak Mandarin, but I usually work in English and leave the Chinese aspects of the job to other more fluent speakers. Having the language skills is definitely a bonus, but plenty of people in Hong Kong are UK expats, so it’s not a necessity.
Working overseas is probably the best decision I’ve made in my working life, and I’d recommend it to anyone considering it. Getting a secondment somewhere is a great way to experience the culture and see if it works for you; I‘m actually thinking about taking up a secondment in Singapore or Myanmar in the future.
Law was always my plan, although I took my time getting there. After doing a Master’s in environmental geography, I spent two years in the Peace Corps in Belize before returning to Chicago and starting law school. I initially thought about going into public interest work but was told there were a lot of pro bono opportunities at Mayer Brown. I thought it was a good chance to follow my passion and develop a well-rounded career – that’s why I’m still here 11 years later.
Full Basket Belize is a non-profit organization started by a number of former Peace Corps volunteers, myself included. The idea is that any citizen can donate money to Belize that isn’t tax-deductible – something that we thought could encourage more donations. Mayer Brown allowed me to bring the organization in as a pro bono client, and we established its charity status (and dealt with a trademark dispute).
Full Basket Belize has two main schemes. One is providing school scholarships to Belizean children in need, and the other is fundraising for community projects, like setting up organic gardens, computer labs and fun runs. So far we’ve sent a pretty impressive number of children to school, especially girls who are otherwise likely to be married quite young. We chose a toucan holding an olive branch as the logo, because it’s a beloved creature in Belize – and a little bit of a play on the Peace Corps’ dove.
I feel a strong sense of commitment to Belize. I have an adopted son from the country and feel like there’s a lot of potential among the youth that could be unleashed with just a little help. It’s been such a source of joy to see the non profit company I helped found grow over the years that I don’t think I’d ever give it up.