Billy ZhangView Biography
Why did you decide to start your legal career at Ropes & Gray?
I grew up in Asia and my goal was always to eventually return after law school in the United States to practice law. I had originally wished to practice for a few years in the States, but the Ropes & Gray Hong Kong office was an opportunity that immediately fit my aspirations and the career I wanted to build. The decision proved to be correct for me and set me on a path that not only put me in the dynamic Asia market that I wanted to work in, but also connected me with colleagues and clients at an international level.
How has Ropes & Gray helped you build a career as a lawyer?
The firm provides constant training opportunities, as well as in-person retreats where associates travel and meet their peers from around the globe. The associate retreats are invaluable to building community and getting to know colleagues. In addition to this, the partners at the firm are extremely accessible and easy to talk to, which not only helped develop my core lawyering skills, but also supported my career development in expanding my network and learning the business of the firm.
I also had the opportunity to work in the Boston office as part of the GO (Global Opportunities) Program. I had the chance to work with many new colleagues and clients while reconnecting with numerous others I had worked with before. Perhaps more importantly, it allowed me to apply my skill set from Asia to U.S. client matters, and has truly allowed me to strengthen relationships and bonds with the people that I worked with for years, but always from the other side of the world. The GO Program has been invaluable to my personal and professional development.
The GO Program has been invaluable to my personal and professional development.”
Tell us about a pro bono matter you’ve worked on.
I took part in the Lawyers Without Borders Tanzania human trafficking program in 2017.
We were tasked with training lawyers, judges and law enforcement in Tanzania with respect to investigating and prosecuting human trafficking cases. This included classroom trainings, mock trials, practicing interrogation and cross-examination skills, and general advice and practices regarding collecting and handling evidence.
Apart from learning and witnessing a legal system so different from what I am familiar with, it allowed me to develop my own skills in explaining and teaching certain legal concepts and rules. The experience highlighted the importance of pro bono work and the very real impact that we can make by spending even a little time helping those in need.
The experience highlighted the importance of pro bono work and the very real impact that we can make by spending even a little time helping those in need.”
How would you describe the firm’s culture?
The Hong Kong office's culture is relaxed but serious. There are extremely high expectations for work quality and timeliness, while there is a lot of leeway and flexibility on time management. In general, I feel Ropes & Gray is excellent at accommodating people's needs, so long as the work is done well and on time.
What tips would you give a potential applicant?
Attitude is key—the work is hard and the hours are long. An applicant's attitude toward dealing with the various aspects of the job is what makes people successful, in my opinion. The hard skills can be learned, practiced and perfected. The soft skills can only be taught to yourself by yourself.