The Legal Cheek View
Clyde & Co has operated in Hong Kong for more than 40 years, having opened an office in February 1981. It was the firm’s first office outside London, where it’s headquartered, as well as its first in the Asia Pacific region.
Over the decades Clydes has branched out from its initial shipping and marine focus to insurance, servicing local and international clients across sectors including aviation, energy and construction.
In November 2011 the firm merged with UK law firm Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (BLG). Some months later seven partners, including the Hong Kong office senior partner, left the firm. They had all been partners at BLG. Despite their departure, the firm continued to grow in Asia, and this year increased revenue by 14% in the region alone. It now has ten partners and 44 lawyers in Hong Kong.
The office is based in Wan Chai’s Central Plaza, a 78-storey skyscraper nicknamed ‘Big Syringe’ for its needle-like spire. Fun fact: the building has a church inside, Sky City Church, which also happens to be the world’s highest church inside a skyscraper. The office is some floors beneath it on 58/F. Even so, it’s so high up you’ve got to take two lifts (the first being a transfer lift) to get there!
And once you’re there, it’s a little underwhelming save for a very intricate and ornate Chinese sculpture in the lobby. The office is on a single floor and its layout is ‘triangular’, so new joiners tend to get lost finding their way around. A useful tip is to memorise the carpet colours and corresponding wall paint, as these vary from department to department.
There are three rows of office rooms, but only the outer two have a view. The rooms are reserved for partners and the rest of the space is open plan for associates, trainees and other legal professionals to share. There’s a pantry with lots of snacks and an adjoining social area where, pre-Covid, we hear “pizza night” would take place every Thursday.
Clyde & Co recruits two trainee solicitors each year. The small intake often translates into greater responsibility and trainees cut their teeth on a varied mix of work. The firm also has a direct training contract route.
The two trainees are whittled down from a batch of eight interns spread across two summer vacation schemes each year. The interns get to experience life as a trainee during the three-week scheme, but also take part in socials which in recent years have included a workshop on how to make Turkish mosaic lamps, scented candles and amidst the pandemic, scented hand sanitiser! The fun stuff extends to the firm’s lawyers, and they recently got together to celebrate “Pryde & Co” (Pride month!) over drinks and rainbow-coloured snacks. The firm will often gift its lawyers hampers and care packages as tokens of appreciation.
Clydes is keen to emphasise that its Hong Kong office forms part of “a broader and integrated APAC offering”, which includes offices in Singapore and mainland China. Overseas secondment opportunities are therefore “a real possibility”.