The Legal Cheek View
US international firm Akin Gump is a relatively new addition to the Hong Kong legal scene, opening its doors a decade ago in 2012. Since then, the megafirm with Texas roots has grown from two to nine partners and 10 fee-earners in Hong Kong.
The firm’s Hong Kong office primarily focuses on investment management, corporate, financial restructuring and disputes work, this year luring top litigation and arbitration partner Ing Loong Yang from Latham & Watkins to bolster its disputes practice. Trainees undertake a broad diet of this work, often spanning multiple jurisdictions.
The trainee intake is small, with one to two places available each year, whittled down from its summer vacation scheme of seven interns. “Given the small intake of trainees, the training feels very bespoke and hands-on,” says a trainee. “I was involved in several challenging cross-border projects from my very first week. I have also attended training workshops and seminars on topical issues across different practices and have had the opportunity to present myself.” Akin Gump offers training sessions over lunch so that lawyers can keep up to date with the latest developments.
Trainees get plenty of exposure to senior lawyers and partners, who provide training and feedback. “I feel that trainees at Akin are valued as a core part of the office,” reflects an Akin Gump associate, who trained at the firm. “I was encouraged to contribute ideas and share my thoughts with partners and associates. I also received regular feedback and support, which I found valuable.”
The Hong Kong office is a mix of marble, wood and glass panels. It’s housed on 18/F of The Landmark’s Gloucester Tower, a floor it shares with Maxim’s Caterers Limited. There are paintings on the walls depicting Hong Kong’s famous sites such as the Lion Rock mountain.
The firm doesn’t disclose Hong Kong trainee salaries but pays them a “competitive” rate. Expect these to be substantial if they’re anything like what the firm pays counterparts in London or the States. In terms of perks, the firm provides private health, life and travel insurance on top of a HK$100,000 stipend to support future trainees during their PCLL studies. The firm’s lawyers can also opt into the firm’s voluntary Be Well wellness programme.
Akin Gump offices in Asia have a diversity and inclusion council co-chaired by partners in Hong Kong and Singapore, with key representatives in Beijing. The group meets to address recruitment and development needs in these offices. The Hong Kong office recently hosted a Pride event to mark international Pride month.