Let’s discover London

Edward Yau is a newly qualified associate. He studied law at the University of Hong Kong.

  • 12hrs flight time from Hong Kong 12hrs flight time from Hong Kong
  • Average temperature 5C-19C Average temperature 5C-19C
  • Population 8,788,000 Population 8,788,000
  • Oldest underground railway network in the world Oldest underground railway network in the world
  • Second-most-populous urban area in the EU Second-most-populous urban area in the EU

Applying for my training contract

I am born and raised in Hong Kong. After graduating from secondary school, I studied a five-year double degree program in Business Administration and Law, followed by a one-year Postgraduate Certificate in Laws both at the University of Hong Kong.

In January 2016, I did my winter internship with NRF and worked in the Banking & Finance team (which coincidentally became my first seat). A few months after the internship, I was invited to come back to do a group interview and was then interviewed by two partners. In the end, I got my training contract. It was not an easy journey, but the experience was definitely unique and worthwhile.

A few months before the start of my training contract, I did a backpacking trip in Europe for a month. I visited London, Madrid, Barcelona, Naples, Rome and a few more cities. It was a great experience as I felt like I stepped out of my comfort zone.

NRF is very well-established and has a long history and strong presence in Hong Kong in many of its practices. At the same time it is truly a global law firm. The work almost always involves a cross-border element. Trainees here get to work on complex and high-profile transactions with major international clients as well as our offices in other jurisdictions. It also has a great culture. I wouldn’t have it any other way to kick off my life as a trainee.

There are different things that I could do after work. Colleagues that I met in the London office are friendly, and we would meet up after work for a beer to let off some steam. I had so much fun. It’s not just about work but experiencing the British culture.

My secondment seat

The firm views international secondments as an essential part of trainees’ development. I felt lucky to be seconded to London for my second seat, where I sit in the Debt Capital Markets Department. Apart from Debt Capital Markets work, the team also focuses on Securitisation and Derivatives. I was given the opportunity to work with different parties.

At the beginning of seat here, I did mostly Debt Capital Market works which include the issuance of Eurobonds and updating Euro Medium Term Note programmes for the issuers. My primary responsibility involved revising prospectuses, liaising with clients and regulatory authorities as well as assisting in closing process. I had also assisted the Securitisation team. I had been reviewing comments received on the transaction documents and liaising with lawyers in other jurisdictions.

Most of the Debt Capital Market deals I worked on were very fast-paced, which meant that the prospectuses and transaction documents needed to be finalised within a short period of time. Sometimes the closing could get very chaotic but it is very interesting to feel the adrenaline during the closing as well as the sense of relief when everything goes smoothly.

Our London office provides a great amount of support to the trainees and I received a lot of trainings during my time here. For my life in London after work, as pub culture is an integral part of the British life, it was very easy to find company to enjoy a beer with. At weekends I would go to the parks to enjoy the sun and to picnic with my friends. When I ran out of ideas, I would resort to Time Out which is a free weekly magazine with suggestions for things to do in the city. Due to London’s proximity to other European countries, travelling in Europe also took up a lot of my time.

All in all, people usually analogize secondment with an exchange program at the university. There are some fine differences between them, I will leave the part for you to find out when you have the chance to go on one.

An interesting project

The most memorable experience of my training contract so far was one of the shipping financing transaction I have assisted with on the refinancing of twelve vessels. There were a lot of documents and they took months to be finalised. It was also the first closing that I had worked on. I still remembered after the deal was closed, all the original documents took up more than six boxes. It was a challenging experience but I felt a great sense of achievement. I am also grateful for the support that I received from the team.

Norton Rose Fulbright views international secondments as an essential part of trainees’ development. I was offered the opportunity to be sent to London for my second seat, where I worked with the debt capital markets team. I was given a lot of responsibilities, for instance, revising prospectuses, liaising with clients and regulatory authorities as well as assisting in closing process. I have also been reviewing comments received on the transaction documents and liaising with lawyers in other jurisdictions. This allowed me to get to know colleagues from all floors in the London office.

Work-life balance

I always try to catch my friends for a drink or dinner after work. I also find exercising and working out to be an effective way to let off some steam. At weekends, I would go hiking for some fresh air and to be in nature.