The Legal Cheek View
In China O’Melveny & Myers has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. It also has offices in Tokyo and Singapore in the Far East and following the opening of the Korean legal market, a “foreign legal consultant office” in Seoul. O’Melveny has a string of Korea-headquartered companies on its books, including Asiana Airlines, FILA, Hyundai and Samsung.
In Hong Kong the firm is recognised for its high-end corporate and commercial work, and in particular its Asia litigation and arbitration practice, which is headquartered in the city and led by veteran partner, Denis Brock. He’s one of five partners at the firm.
O’Melveny offers two to three training contracts a year. During the training contract, rookies spend time in three practice groups, namely capital markets, mergers & acquisitions and dispute resolution. It’s flexible in the sense that there is no prescribed length for seats, which can vary from six months to a year. The training programme aims to provide trainees with essential skills; “from communicating with clients, learning to manage your time efficiently, to honing your research and analytical skills”, as per one trainee. They get involved in substantive projects, including pro bono work, and receive informal feedback after every assignment and formal evaluations throughout the training contract.
International secondments aren’t offered to the firm’s Hong Kong trainees, but the Hong Kong office does accept trainees on secondment from London. Though the programme has been on pause owing to the coronavirus and quarantine restrictions in the city but expect it to resume as these begin to fall away. Hong Kong trainees work closely with the firm’s US offices (where it’s headquartered) as well as those in Beijing, Shanghai and other parts of Asia.
The firm has an ‘open door’ policy and trainees are well-supported in a work environment that is “friendly” and “collaborative”. With a small trainee intake expect lots of responsibility but not to be left in the lurch without support. “We have an abundance of support and guidance at our fingertips, so we are never actually swimming in unchartered waters despite the level of autonomy we have,” says a trainee.
O’Melveny is housed in AIA Central, a concrete and steel high-rise tower designed to look like a Chinese junk boat. The firm occupies the whole of 31/F and because it’s so high up, there are spectacular views overlooking Victoria Harbour. The meeting rooms are named after cities and the office has a well-stocked pantry. We hear lawyers gather here every month for a party. There’s also the annual Christmas party plus occasional ‘diversity days’ where lawyers sample international cuisines. The firm has a close-knit culture, we’re told, and lawyers recently got together over a weekend for a barbeque.
The firm accepts up to six interns on its month-long summer vacation scheme.