Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (Hong Kong)

The Legal Cheek View

A little more than four years ago America’s Bryan Cave and the UK’s Berwin Leighton Paisner combined in one of the biggest transatlantic mergers to date. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP), as it became known, now has more than 1,275 lawyers across 30 offices in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America.

In Asia the firm has two offices: Hong Kong and Singapore. BCLP closed its third “small Beijing office” in July 2020.

The Hong Kong office, which has around 20 lawyers, including five partners, serves as the gateway for its clients in mainland China, the rest of the APAC region and internationally. Its three key practice areas are corporate and finance transactions, litigation and investigations, and real estate. BCLP lawyers have been known to undertake large scale real estate transactions involving landmark buildings in the city and it’s inevitable, apparently, that trainees will pass by a location they will have provided advice on!

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The office is located on 25/F of Dorset House, one of the hubs in the new Island East business district in Quarry Bay. BCLP was in fact the first international law firm to set-up shop in Quarry Bay. The office is designed to be functional: the conference rooms have partition walls and there are standing desks. It’s also open-plan and the partners don’t have rooms which we hear helps encourage chit-chat among lawyers of all levels. “Partners are supportive and always approachable,” chimes one current BCLP rookie. Every new trainee is allocated a partner mentor to help them find their feet and offer support and guidance during the training contract.

The training is generally very good and follows the standard four seat rotations of six months each, with choices across the firm’s core departments. It helps that the two trainees the firm takes on each year start with a two-week ‘orientation’ in the London office, where it’s headquartered. From there, they can undertake an overseas secondment as the firm resumed these last year following a pause amid the global pandemic. Destinations include the firm’s offices in the Middle East such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, or in nearby Singapore.

One junior associate reflects on their training experience as follows: “Possibly the most challenging and exciting period I have experienced to date was about four months into my training contract. As the only trainee in the Hong Kong asset finance team at the time, I was working on many transactions. That in itself was nothing unusual, as trainees are always involved in the groundwork of transactions. But this was an exceptional two weeks where, over the course of ten days, I personally closed eight transactions. I think this level of involvement for a trainee is in stark contrast to what people would expect. It shows that the firm has placed its confidence in me and is willing to give responsibility to its trainees from the beginning of their legal career.”

The training and quality of work receives top marks, but we hear the supervising associates can be hit-or-miss: “Some associates are very supportive and willing to teach, while some can give unreasonable requests and ignore trainees’ capacity to delegate tasks,” reports one anonymous insider.

Beyond work, the Hong Kong office has a CSR Committee who organises a calendar of activities, which in the past have included a beach clean-up, charity walks and quiz nights. And on the social side, November (or ‘Movember’), is a busy month in the firm’s calendar as it hosts weekly themed sports activities such as table tennis or hiking and runs internal competitions to get lawyers moving. Continuing on the theme of health, there’s a fruit basket in the pantry.

The graduate recruitment team runs two vacation schemes every summer and takes four candidates on each scheme. Interestingly, the firm lets interns pick their preferred departments. During the four-week scheme they get involved in everything from client meetings to court runs as well as partner-led talks and workshops. BCLP also runs an open day for those unable to commit to a month-long scheme.


Training Contract 2024 & 2025

Applications close 31/05/2023

Insider Scorecard

Quality of work
Peer support
Partner approach-ability
Work/life balance
Legal tech

Insider Scorecard Grades range from A* to D and are derived from the Legal Cheek Hong Kong Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2022-23 of over 100 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in Hong Kong.


First year trainee salary Undisclosed
Second year trainee salary Undisclosed
Newly qualified salary Undisclosed
PCLL grant Undisclosed

General Info

Training contracts 2
Latest trainee retention rate Undisclosed
Offices 30
Countries 14
Minimum degree requirement N/A