Deacons (Hong Kong)

The Legal Cheek View

Deacons is Hong Kong’s oldest law firm. It takes its name from English solicitor Victor Deacon, who in 1880 joined the firm which had been founded in 1851 by barrister William Bridges back when Hong Kong was under British rule. Deacon made partner two years later and propelled the firm to become one of the city’s leading law firms — a position it retains today. Deacons is well-respected within commercial circles and highly sought-after by students aspiring to train as lawyers in Hong Kong.

Deacons is also Hong Kong’s largest law firm. There are more than 250 lawyers, including 55 partners and, notably, about half are female, including the firm’s senior partner. Its headquarters are in Hong Kong and it has three representative offices in mainland China, in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai. It was the first foreign law firm to secure three licensed offices there. Secondments to these offices aren’t on offer but opportunities have arisen in the past for junior associates to complete a client secondment.

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Like most prestigious law firms in Hong Kong, Deacons is based in Central. It has resided in Alexandra House since 1985. Over the years it has taken up more floor space to accommodate its expanding team of lawyers and now occupies six floors in the building. The firm has two private elevators (which have specific hours of service) and an internal staircase connecting the floors. The interior of the meeting rooms somewhat resembles an English manor house: there are grand wooden tables, panelled walls and Victorian double doors. The firm also has on display some of its own handwritten deeds and contracts dating back to the 19th century. There are even framed letters handwritten by Deacon himself! Other historical documents in the firm’s archive were handed over to the University of Hong Kong in 2014 for safe-keeping. What’s more, Deacons has a chef in the kitchen, who cooks up meals for the firm’s clients and was formerly the chief executive’s personal chef.

Deacons has “world-famous clients” including Google, Samsung and McDonalds, and also represents the Hong Kong government. Trainees joining the firm can expect to be involved in high-profile deals and cases. They’ll be well-equipped to tackle these as the firm has in place ‘Deacons Academy and Trainee Community’ which offers training modules in five core areas: business development, commercial acumen, people engagement, personal qualities and risk management. They will also have completed a week-long orientation prior to starting the training contract.

Deacons is a consistently strong trainee retention performer and a “significant portion” of partners started at the firm as trainees. What’s kept them there, we hear, is the firm’s “people-oriented” culture and heritage. It’s just like one “very big family”, we’re told, where everyone is a “team player”. One newly-qualified associate reflects: “Partners and buddies were always ready to give a helping hand when I encountered difficulty, be it a trivial or material one [and] willing to give helpful feedback for my work, from which I acquired invaluable experience and knowledge.”

The firm selects between ten to 13 trainees from about 30 interns across the winter and two summer vacation schemes held each year. Each scheme lasts four weeks and takes place in December, June and July. Deacons is a full-service commercial firm with 18 key service areas across 16 sectors. Trainees rotate through four practice areas during the two-year training contract in areas such as corporate, capital markets, intellectual property, real estate and litigation, among others.

From team building days, photography classes, movie nights and themed dinners, Deacons’ ‘Social Circle’ always has something on to fill lawyers’ diaries beyond work. The firm also hosts a golf day, bowling night and several other sports activities. It has a firm-wide initiative, ‘Deacons Cares’, in support of community projects and charities, and students joining the vacation schemes spend a day doing community service.


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

General Info

Training contracts 13
Latest trainee retention rate Undisclosed
Offices 4
Countries 1
Minimum degree requirement 2:1

The Firm In Its Own Words