Karas LLP in association with Mishcon de Reya (Hong Kong)

The Legal Cheek View

Karas LLP has been operating in Hong Kong for over a decade, having been founded by commercial litigation heavyweight Jason Karas in 2009. Back then it was part of the Lipman Karas group, which has offices in Australia and London but rose to prominence in Hong Kong when acting as lead counsel for the claimants in the city’s biggest corporate collapse. The Hong Kong office of accounting giant Ernst & Young was accused of falsifying documents to shield itself from a negligence claim brought by the liquidators of electronics company Akai Holdings. The dispute was settled out of court, with EY reportedly paying out hundreds of millions of Hong Kong dollars. The story made front-page news and to this day, the firm keeps newspaper clippings on display in the office.

In July 2021, Karas LLP broke away from the group and dropped ‘Lipman’ from its name. A release at the time stated, “a renewed commitment to our clients and people in Hong Kong and the region”. Lipman Karas, meanwhile, continues to operate in Australia and London.

Some months later Karas LLP entered into an association with UK-headquartered law firm Mishcon de Reya. The association paves the way for the firms to eventually merge and reinforces Mishcon’s commitment to Asia after opening its first international office in Singapore in May 2020.

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Karas LLP-Mishcon’s twin strengths are in commercial litigation and private client. Expect top quality work as the mid-sized boutique regularly acts for listed companies, helping resolve high stakes disputes. The nature of the work means that lawyers here (there are nearly 30, including six partners) have a decent work-life balance; projects are relatively long-term and likely to last a number of years so they’re more often than not able to plan their workdays.

Big moves were made in January 2022 when the firm bolstered its disputes practice with the hire of five lawyers from Hong Kong law firm Howse Williams, including partner Kevin So.

Of note is the high number of solicitor advocates at the firm. Jason, who leads the firm as managing partner, was one of the first lawyers in Hong Kong to be granted Higher Rights of Audience for civil proceedings.

Karas LLP offers students a unique proposition in that the training contract focuses solely on litigation. There are no rotations between practice areas, but trainees can rotate between different matters. So, the two to three trainees the firm takes on each year have to be hellbent on qualifying as litigators. And so they are, it seems, as the firm has retained 100% of its trainee intake since at least 2018. What’s more, the firm welcomes applications from students interested in starting training contracts in any of September 2023, 2024 or 2025. This is unique among international firms.

Typical trainee tasks include research and drafting but also plenty of oral and written advocacy. International secondment opportunities are on pause owing to the coronavirus and quarantine restrictions in the city but there are plans to resume these from next year — with London and possibly Singapore on the cards. All lawyers have access to the Mishcon Academy, which hosts online events, videos and podcasts on the big issues of the day. Mental health and wellbeing has been a recent topic of conversation, with the firm inviting actress Jodie Foster and late singer Amy Winehouse’s dad, Mitch, to deliver a session on resilience.

If you plan strategically and take the C2 exit at Admiralty MTR station, you’ll be whisked along three automated walkways and land within minutes at the firm’s office at Three Pacific Place. It really does feel like a fancy airport terminal. The firm occupies 15,000 sq ft across a single floor in the building. It’s open plan but the partners, counsel and some senior associates have their own rooms. It’s pleasant and there’s aboriginal artwork on the walls paying homage to the firm’s Australian roots.

The office has a large pantry which is also a chill out and lunch area for lawyers. Karas LLP gives them all daily lunches for free which we hear are pretty good. Friday night drinks are held here, and a budget is set aside for lawyers, including partners, to take it in turns and host events. There’s snacks, coffee and table tennis too.

In terms of green initiatives we’re told there are segregated bins for recycling in the office and lawyers are given refillable Mishcon-branded water bottles.


First year trainee salary HK$46,000
Second year trainee salary HK$48,000
Newly qualified salary Undisclosed
PCLL grant HK$50,000

General Info

Training contracts 3
Latest trainee retention rate 100%
Offices 3
Countries 3