Shane Hughes, law graduate and winner of Eversheds international innovation competiton
Hong Kong bound
12 September 2012
I have recently returned from work experience in Hong Kong having truly had an experience of a lifetime.
In April 2012, I received a call to say that I had won Eversheds’ innovation competition, a gruelling process which required me to submit an innovative idea based on the firms values, and after being shortlisted, present the idea to a panel of judges including senior Eversheds partners, an Eversheds trainee and the editor of Lawyer2B. It was all worth it to win one week’s work experience in the firm’s Hong Kong office. I still did not quite believe that I had won until I was standing in Heathrow’s Terminal 5, about to board a BA flight bound for Hong Kong.
I arrived on a Saturday and after a 12 hour flight, limousine transfer and power nap, was ready to explore this densely populated and bustling metropolis. After leaving my hotel in Wan Chai, I headed west towards Central Hong Kong. I spent the afternoon taking in Hong Kong’s plethora of skyscrapers and searched for the remnants of the city’s colonial past, St John’s Cathedral and the Legislative Council Building are now dwarfed by shards of steel and glass. From here I travelled across Victoria Harbour on the Star Ferry to find the best view of the city from Kowloon. Determined to make the most of my time, I spent Sunday exploring the city on foot, taking in the sights, smells and sounds. I walked through Hong Kong Park, took the tram to the Peak and scaled the steep Mount Austin Road to reach the official summit of Victoria Peak. Hong Kong’s scale can only be taken in from above, it is incredible – a feat of humanity’s ingenuity.
I began my work experience on Monday morning at Eversheds’ office in The Landmark. After inductions and introductions, I was thrown in at the deep end; I was given a bundle to read before a hearing due to take place the following morning in the High Court of Hong Kong. The hearing concerned a company’s multimillion dollar debt restructuring agreement. I stopped only to have dim sum (lunch) with Eversheds’ partners and trainees from both Hong Kong and on secondment from the UK.
I attended court the following day and was surprised by the similarities in terms of court structure, etiquette and process. If I had closed my eyes, I would have thought that I was sitting in a High Court in England. Following the proceedings, I drafted an attendance note detailing what had taken place and the judgment given. That evening I was invited to dinner with the firm’s trainees from Hong Kong which soon turned into drinks in Soho.
In addition to being allocated research projects, I worked closely with a senior partner and an associate on a legal defence in response to a statement of claim that had been filed against our client. We discussed legal theories and proposed different arguments that could be raised. The shipping law dispute concerned an insurance company’s indemnity of a freight forwarder’s arguable liability for the theft of cargo. I personally drafted the defence and worded each submission. In the evening I was invited across to Kowloon to watch Hong Kong’s renowned light show. A wealth of lasers and high powered spotlights beamed into the night sky crowning the city’s skyline.
To conclude this incredible week, I was invited to spend Friday evening on board a junk sailing Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. On board were trainees and colleagues from Eversheds and other international law firms. We left from Pier 9 and sailed away from the Island as Hong Kong’s light show fired up again closing a truly unforgettable week, meeting amazing people, in an awe-inspiring city - an experience that I will never forget.
This trip has completely affirmed my desire to be an international corporate lawyer. I had a truly unforgettable experience working as part of a warm and welcoming team. Further, this experience has completely changed my training contract aspirations. I had always intended to complete a training contract in London, however, having experienced the lifestyle and work undertaken by trainees overseas, I am now determined to complete at least part of any training contract that I am awarded abroad. I would say this to my peers, you can achieve whatever you want to provided that you work hard, remain proactive, aspire and set yourself clear goals.