White & Case (Hong Kong)

The Legal Cheek View

White & Case has a long history in Hong Kong, having opened its office in 1978 and practising in the region for more than 40 years.

The international firm has expanded recently and moved from Central Tower to bigger premises in York House, one of three office towers in The Landmark, a commercial complex located in Central, Hong Kong.

The firm’s core focus in Hong Kong is debt finance, financial restructuring and insolvency, corporate M&A and private equity. It also has specialities in capital markets, investment funds and dispute resolution. The dispute resolution team focuses on commercial litigation and arbitration.

It’s been a bumper year for White & Case in Asia, with revenues climbing by an impressive 30% in its latest set of financials, beating growth in the America (23%) and EMEA (15%) regions. Overall, revenue increased by a fifth to US$2.9 billion against a 17% rise in profit per equity partner (PEP) to US$3.5 million.

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Expect top-draw work as White & Case clients range from international financial institutions to Chinese banks and local Hong Kong businesses looking to access the city’s financial markets.

Another strong pull for any prospective White & Case applicant is the firm’s huge international network, with 44 offices in 30 countries. Every trainee is given the opportunity to undertake a six-month overseas secondment, with recent batches jetting off to destinations including London and Melbourne. “I have already had the opportunities to work with our London, Paris, Düsseldorf, New York and Washington offices, just to name a few,” lists one current trainee.

There are no client secondments for trainees but plenty of opportunities to do so as an associate. In addition, White & Case trainees and associates can work on pro bono matters, which recently include advising an NGO supporting underprivileged students in Hong Kong through sport-related activity.

The firm provides plenty of training material but expect a light supervisory touch (as is often the case at US firms). “The firm organises periodic training sessions on a variety of topics in different practice areas,” a trainee tells us. “There is also autonomy given to trainees for us to figure things out ourselves.”

The Hong Kong office has strong ties to the eight other White & Case offices in the Asia-Pacific region, namely Singapore, Tokyo and Melbourne, as well as globally, since they all operate as “One Firm” across the world.

This sense of togetherness extends to the firm’s lawyers in Hong Kong of which there are now more than 60, plus around 45 members of staff in non-legal roles. The culture is said to be “harmonious” — everyone just gets along and there’s none of the cut-throat ‘sink or swim’ culture you’d expect at a firm with deep New York roots. “My peers are very supportive and are always willing to help,” a trainee tells us. Indeed, there’s a real emphasis on collaboration and the partners are said to be “approachable, friendly and willing to teach”. They have their own offices while associates and trainees share office space.

The office itself is modern and very swish. It occupies three floors in York House which ooze artistic appeal and give off the vibe of entering a contemporary art gallery. That’s down to the influence of corporate partner and art collector William Fong, who curated the artwork on the walls and helps promote emerging artists in his spare time. One painting has an interesting back-story: the artist spent three months painting it whilst secluded on a remote mountain. The result of his labour now hangs in the firm’s reception, which also has an oriental feel to it: black and white tiles pattern the floor and there’s a huge sculpture of a warrior (perhaps serving as inspiration to the White & Case warriors walking past it each day!)

But not every day since the firm has implemented a global agile work policy allowing its lawyers to work from home for up to two days a week. There are ‘anchor’ days for teams, with debt finance and corporate required to work from the office every Thursday, for example. Trainees are typically not able to work from home under protocols from The Law Society of Hong Kong but there are currently waivers in place owing to the coronavirus pandemic and so they too can work from home for two days a week if they want to.

The work hours vary. “When it’s crunch time, I may have to work late evenings or on the weekends”, reports a White & Case rookie, “but there are also days when it’s less busy and I get to leave earlier.” They’re remunerated very well for their endeavours as newly qualified (NQ) solicitor pay is in line with the firm’s US offices. In addition to eye-popping salaries, perks include “wellness days” and massages, a fitness allowance, and a free subscription to meditation app Headspace for White & Case warriors to find their inner zen. On the social side, trainees have dabbled in activities ranging from dance fitness to a floral arrangement class. Champagne, cupcakes and strawberries were in abundance, we hear.

The Hong Kong graduate recruitment team deals with lateral hires too so works with colleagues in Australia to coordinate the training contract programme. From both a winter and summer vacation scheme they take on roughly four trainees each year who rotate through four six-month seats, including an international secondment. Trainees must complete a seat in dispute resolution and will receive an induction before starting in each seat. Find out further insights about the firm on its careers blog, Inside White & Case.

As is the case with most Hong Kong law firms, White & Case expects future trainees to be fluent in English and Chinese to be able to service clients in the emerging market.

Insider Scorecard

Quality of work
Peer support
Partner approach-ability
Work/life balance
Legal tech

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.


First year trainee salary Undisclosed
Second year trainee salary Undisclosed
Newly qualified salary Undisclosed
PCLL grant HK$75,000

General Info

Training contracts 4
Latest trainee retention rate Undisclosed
Offices 44
Countries 30
Minimum language requirement English, Chinese (Mandarin)
Minimum degree requirement 2:1


HK female associates 80%
HK female partners 28%

Universities Current Trainees Attended

The Firm In Its Own Words