Why did you choose Ropes & Gray to start your legal career?
Ropes & Gray offers the best of all worlds. From a trainee’s perspective, the firm provides top-tier training, coaching you to be highly independent and proactive, and to deliver an excellent quality of work. The firm also encourages diversity of ideas and people. This creates an empathetic culture, where everyone’s voice is valued. Given the pressure, long hours and tough moments, I am grateful to be surrounded by kind, generous, and humorous colleagues.
How did you find the recruitment and selection process?
The selection process is rigorous and requires focus and determination, but it also allows you to highlight your skills and demonstrate why you will succeed at the firm. One distinct feature of Ropes & Gray’s assessments is the emphasis placed on individuality. People are keen to learn about you as a person, and this is important when deciding which recruits would add value to the firm. This is something that made me feel valued for who I am and not just what I could deliver.
How would you describe the firm’s culture?
The key terms I would use are ‘collaborative’, ‘down-to-earth’ and ‘friendly’. I am often pleasantly surprised by how kind and generous people at the firm are, especially when you consider that they may be struggling through an incredibly tough week. During my time at the firm, people have always held their doors open for questions and discussions, taken the time to teach and explain, and crucially, given credit for a job well done. It is not a secret that you are expected to work hard—long hours are commonplace, but the people you work with make all the difference.
Tell us about a memorable matter you’ve worked on.
Early on in my private equity seat (my first seat), I was given an immense amount of responsibility on a due diligence report that had to be prepared in a short amount of time. The report related to an educational company that was being sold via an auction in which our client was a competitive bidder. Without a junior on the deal to guide me, the task was daunting. That also motivated me to perform well, given that my work would be directly reviewed by senior lawyers and partners. I remember powering through several late nights, conducting my own corporate due diligence and contract reviews, while simultaneously reviewing and harmonizing the reports produced by the specialist teams (i.e. tax, real estate, finance, employment and pensions). I personally enjoyed the process of meticulously combing through information, enhancing my ability to spot material issues, as well as collaborating with the specialists. The completion was very fulfilling – I felt a sense of accomplishment, which was shared with the wider team. I also felt a sense of pride from being able to complete a mammoth task to a high standard, considering I had never prepared a due diligence report before. I was able to build on this experience, take on even more responsibility, and get involved with more complex work during my next due diligence endeavor.
Tell us about a pro bono matter you’ve worked on.
I assisted with organising and running triage calls for potential Windrush compensation scheme applicants. This involved liaising directly with clients, offering support, and providing them with materials so they could better understand the process for making Windrush claims. I really enjoyed two aspects of this work: Firstly, it gave me a chance to engage with individuals and their stakes at a personal level. This stood in sharp contrast to my usual transactional work, which often involved the broader and more predictable interests of corporate entities. Secondly, as a trainee, I was given a significant amount of responsibility to liaise directly with the client. This provided an opportunity to act as a positive influence in the community at a very early stage in my career, which was rewarding.
What tips would you give a potential applicant?
I would suggest thinking carefully about what kind of lifestyle is best for you, and whether you are curious about high-value transactional work. In my view, being driven only by the prestige and status (and money!) would make the job even more challenging. A genuine passion for deal work, commerce, and several of facets of corporate law will enable you to develop in a more meaningful way.
Please provide 3-4 fun facts about yourself.
I am a huge foodie. Having grown up in both Asia and Europe, eating and learning about unique food from all over the world is, in my view, one of life’s greatest pleasures (other than corporate law, of course!). If you are ever starved for a unique and great dish, I would highly recommend a Hainanese chicken rice.
Writing academic articles is a hobby of mine. I find it rewarding to understand a topic (usually, an area of law) well enough to gather my thoughts on paper and form a robust view on a matter, then discuss the topic with others. The learning process usually involves me changing my stance or perspective on a matter as I work through my article. This helps me to keep an open mind and is useful when it comes to completing research tasks as a trainee.
I can speak several different languages, including French and Mandarin. While none of these are up to a business proficiency standard, I love being able to converse with locals when I am visiting France, Switzerland, or Singapore, for example.