Withers represents the interests of the world’s super wealthy, including a third of the Top 20 Hong Kong billionaires in the Forbes World’s Billionaires list. The Hong Kong office opened in 2008 and takes on matters in corporate, dispute resolution, family, private client and tax. Hong Kong has deep pockets of private wealth and the firm last year launched a practice in global asset finance, with the hire of top aviation partner Paul Jebely.
Now with over 40 lawyers, including 14 partners, Withers’ Hong Kong office is growing. It recently appointed family partner Jocelyn Tsao as managing director, making her the youngest MD across Withers’ 17 international offices!
Withers moved to new premises in 2020 and now occupies more than 16,000 sq ft in the United Centre in Queensway, Admiralty. The office is open and agile and seeks to promote collaborative working. There are multi-purpose rooms with operable walls and many of the rooms have glass partition walls. The pantry, otherwise known as the ‘W café’ (which is also illuminated on a funky neon sign), is eye-catching, with bold and colourful prints on the floor and upholstery. There’s a TV corner with video games as well as a wellness room and in-house gym! Withers is one of only a few law firms in Hong Kong to offer such a perk.
Such spoils await the two trainees the global firm takes on each year; selected from a batch of four interns from its summer vacation scheme. During the two-year training contract trainees take on work in the firm’s core areas of practice including corporate and dispute resolution, with the chance to go on secondment to the London or Singapore offices.
In private client and tax, trainees cover all kinds of matters including wills and probate; trusts; immigration; charities and philanthropy. They can also assist in private commercial deals and family law matters such as divorce; pre-nuptial agreements; child custody; and surrogacy. Trainees gradually get given more complex tasks as they progress through the training contract: from proof-reading to meeting clients and drafting complete sets of documents. They’re assigned a supervisor for each seat who is responsible for providing training and support, and will also have two appraisals to set and evaluate their objectives. Trainees undertake ‘soft skills’ courses such as presentation skills and negotiation, which are complemented by technical workshops run by the firm’s lawyers.
The vacation scheme is three weeks, with a week spent in each of the firm’s core areas of practice. The firm states that attendance on one of these highly competitive schemes is not a prerequisite to being a Withers trainee and your application won’t be discounted if you haven’t, but its preference is for future joiners to do an internship as it’s “a great introduction to life as a trainee”.