Dentons (Hong Kong)

The Legal Cheek View

Dentons has offices in practically every province in China. From capital Beijing to Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai and the special administrative region of Hong Kong, the international law firm and the world’s largest by lawyer headcount, has representation in a total of 48 cities. Beyond China and in the wider Asia Pacific, Dentons has offices in Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam. Interestingly, Dentons takes a polycentric approach — it has no one single headquarters or dominant national culture instead operating as both a global and local law firm.

The Hong Kong office takes three to four trainees each year. With small trainee cohorts typically comes great responsibility so expect to gain hands-on experience and contribute to substantive legal work. “I am particularly attracted to the level of responsibility that the firm affords to juniors because the work that you do, even as a trainee, directly translates to visible contribution to whatever projects you are working on,” says one trainee. Dentons rookies rotate through four six-month seats and receive support from their supervisor, a trainee partner and ‘buddy’ mentor during the training contract. “Structured training with ample guidance and support from colleagues,” adds another trainee. “High levels of responsibility and on-the-job training.”

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Trainees may be posted in a range of teams such as corporate, banking, capital markets or dispute resolution, and get given a varied workload, with tasks ranging from research and bundling to attending client meetings. “There’s a great variety of legal work”, an anonymous respondent to the Legal Cheek Hong Kong Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2022-23 tells us, adding: “We have a diversified clientele ranging from individual to institutional clients.”

Dentons Hong Kong occupies a suite on 32/F of Jardine House in Central. There are other offices on the same floor. The location is convenient and it’s “Grade A” office space but a little tired-looking and in need of refurbishment. The rooms are compact and some are quite tight for space.

The firm embraces an “open-door” culture with “seniors welcoming questions and chit-chat”. An interviewee tells us they have “nice colleagues and supervisors, from both the legal team and the professional support staff”.

The current batch of trainees report not having completed a client or international secondment. The latter will, however, resume as coronavirus and quarantine restrictions in the city-state fall away, and with such huge international reach, expect some great destinations on offer.

Perks are pretty standard and prompt a few grumbles from the current trainees. Though the salary is “competitive” (first-year trainees earn HK$50,000 per month), and benefits include contributions towards a Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF), medical and dental insurance, and rental reimbursement scheme. What’s more, trainees typically finish work around 8pm and describe their work-life balance as “excellent”. They also get to work flexibly; from the office and home.

In terms of eco efforts the firm has set up “an environmental committee to reduce unnecessary use of paper, electricity and stationery”.

Dentons runs a summer vacation scheme, taking about ten to 12 interns. There’s also a direct training contract route for graduates. The firm requests applicants submit their CV and complete a form which asks a series of questions about their intentions to pursue a legal career, provide examples of leadership and setbacks, as well as a response to hypothetical situations.

Insider Scorecard

A*
Training
A*
Quality of work
A
Peer support
A
Partner approach-ability
B
Work/life balance
A
Legal tech
A
Perks
B
Office
A
WFH
A
Eco-friendliness

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.

Money

First year trainee salary HK$50,000
Second year trainee salary Undisclosed
Newly qualified salary Undisclosed
PCLL grant HK$42,100

Dentons’ PCLL maintenance grant is in line with the University Grants Committee (UGC)’s funding for local full-time PCLL students. The firm also offers a stipend of HK$50,000.

Hours

Annual target hours 2,000
Annual leave 23 days

The annual target hours include 1,800 creditable hours per year plus 100 hours for pro bono matters and 100 hours for business development.

General Info

Training contracts 4
Latest trainee retention rate 100%
Offices 200+
Countries 80+
Minimum language requirement English, Chinese (Putonghua)
Minimum degree requirement 2:1

Diversity

HK female associates 50%
HK female partners 25%

Universities Current Trainees Attended

The Firm In Its Own Words