The Legal Cheek View
Pinsent Masons launched in Hong Kong in the early 1980s and now has a team of 27 lawyers based on the ground. The Hong Kong office was the firm’s first in the Asia Pacific region. It has since expanded to Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore and Australia. They primarily focus on energy and infrastructure projects, but also financial services and technology.
In Hong Kong the firm is led by construction and arbitration partner Dean Lewis. Lewis has been at Pinsent Masons for more than 35 years and took over last year when former Hong Kong office head Vincent Connor sadly passed away after a period of illness.
Pinsent Masons lawyers have been involved in some of the city’s biggest infrastructure projects to date: from the launch of a new facility in Hong Kong International Airport to developments at major MTR stations. They have also helped private companies go public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, with deals often stretching to several hundred million Hong Kong dollars.
The training contract is two years, broken down into four six-month seats across the firm’s core areas of practice. Expect hard work but to be supported along the way. And the work hours, on average, are decent; the firm’s current trainee cohort tells us they finish work around 7pm most evenings.
The Hong Kong office is housed in Wan Chai’s Central Plaza. The building gets mixed reviews as it’s a little older than the city’s newer developments in Central or Quarry Bay. There are several entrances, including one that connects with Hong Kong’s very stern-looking Immigration Tower. The office is on 50/F which takes two lifts to reach — the first to the Sky Lobby which feels high enough and then another up four more floors. Pinsent Masons occupies the whole floor and the meeting rooms are named after islands/harbours. With the firm being so high up, you can view many of these from the windows! There are two lawyers to an office and trainees share office space with their supervisors. There are around 60 members of staff and those in non-legal roles share open plan space.
The firm has a global agile-working policy in place, enabling its lawyers to work flexibly from the office and home. Respondents to the Legal Cheek Hong Kong Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2022-23 tell us, however, that most WFH equipment is “self-provided”.
Pinsent Masons takes around 30 interns across its winter (January to March) and summer (May to August) vacation schemes but has just two training contracts up for grabs — so expect some intense competition! And the firm only hires through its vacation schemes; there’s no direct training contract application route. The vacation schemes run for two weeks instead of four weeks like at most Hong Kong law firms but mirror the approach taken in the UK, where the firm is headquartered and has nine offices. The Hong Kong graduate recruitment team operates a CV/cover letter application process and reviews applications for the firm’s offices in both Hong Kong and China.