The Legal Cheek View
Simmons & Simmons was one of the early international law firms to set up shop in Hong Kong. Fast forward 40 or so years and the firm now has a headcount of 120 in Hong Kong, and takes on five trainees each year. The Hong Kong office is the firm’s biggest in Asia and the gateway to China, where Simmons has a further three offices, in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, but also in Singapore and Tokyo.
The full-service firm’s core practice areas include financial markets, corporate and commercial, employment and dispute resolution. The training contract is structured so that trainees spend up to six months in four of these areas or ‘seats’. One of these seats is typically an overseas secondment to the firm’s London office, where it’s headquartered, but these have been on pause since March 2021 due to the coronavirus and quarantine restrictions. Expect them to resume soon.
Simmons & Simmons’ Hong Kong office occupies a single floor in One Taikoo Place, Quarry Bay. The entrance feels rather futuristic: as you exit the lift on 30/F, a giant screen behind glass doors displays a video message and points you in the direction of where to go. The meeting rooms are very plush: there’s textured fabric coating the walls, copper-gold accents, huge tables (perfect for social distancing) with white ergonomic chairs, and some meeting rooms have partition walls to create even more space. Practically every wall in the front-office has artwork, most of which was painted by London-based artist Gary Hume, with the rest brought over from the firm’s London headquarters.
The firm has a well-stocked pantry: there’s a cupboardful of cup noodles, drinks and coffee served by a barista for the firm’s lawyers to enjoy against the backdrop of an incredible sea view. The firm’s green efforts are visible in the pantry as there are segregated bins for recycling and reusable storage boxes to cut food waste. Beyond the pantry, there are various lunch options, with restaurants on the ground floor of the building and Tong Chong Street Market a stone’s throw away.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives are actively encouraged by the firm. Every year the firm chooses a charity to support and hosts a number of events in their aid. Recent events have included a Jeans Day, Christmas lunch and Valentine’s Day bake sale. In July 2021 Simmons & Simmons pledged to donate £2 million of its global profit to charities providing relief to those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. This came off the back of a strong financial year which saw profit soar by 35% to £171 million. The donation pot was split across its international offices, meaning that charities across the firm’s network benefited.
Trainees take the lead on CSR projects too; last summer around 50 Simmons & Simmons staff took part in a trainee-led beach clean-up on Starfish Bay. The firm’s lawyers also packed Blessing Bags to help the homeless around the time of the Mid-Autumn Festival. All lawyers, including trainees, get involved in pro bono work. Trainees may advise an NGO, for example, with support from senior lawyers or offer career coaching to students.
Simmons & Simmons runs two summer vacation schemes each year, taking about 13 interns in total. Each scheme lasts about three weeks and is open to penultimate year law students.