Let’s discover London

Zoe Chung is a third-seat trainee, who just returned from her secondment in London. She read 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

It all began when I did my BBA(Law) and PCLL at the University of Hong Kong. That was spending 6 years at university before becoming a trainee solicitor. Although it was a long journey, I enjoyed my university life a lot.

I recall attending the law fair during my study at the university. I chatted with one of the lawyers of NRF at the law fair. I was enchanted by her charisma and how nice people are in this firm. So I immediately went home and filled in the online application, completed a written test, interviewed for the internship, did the internship, had my end-of-internship interview, got my training contract at long last. More or less the same process with other law firms but the experience was definitely unique and worthwhile.

My internship at NRF was back in 2015. I worked 1 month with the dispute resolution team. My first seat was again back to dispute resolution – it is funny how that’s worked out.

Before starting my training contract, I went travelling all over Eastern Europe. I was notified my starting date by the HR during my travels so it was a big contrast knowing you will start working in 2 months and when you were having fun. During my last year at university, I did ballet so often (that my toes had blisters). I would say it is really important to do what you want before entering the work force.

I was brought along to one of the client training sessions by a partner with a Chinese bank in London. It is remarkably funny when you introduce yourself in Mandarin and Cantonese in front of a mixture of people from around the world working for a Chinese bank.

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 corporate financial service regulatory department. I was given a lot of opportunities to work with the team to give advice to clients with finance background such as banks.

There is a strong emphasis on communication within the team. We had a “40-minute briefing” on the first Wednesday every month. The briefing was essentially a seminar held by partners and associates for clients on the upcoming regulatory trends. I assisted frequently in preparing the slides. There were also different pitches for me to work on. Lawyers here have to be very business-oriented. I was also responsible for the research works on different interesting topics. I learnt a lot about different regulatory issues specifically on this side of the world.

I also found an interesting observation during my time here. I realized the ability to speak Chinese becomes increasingly important. I was brought along to one of the client training sessions by a partner with a Chinese bank in London. It was remarkably funny when you introduce yourself in Mandarin and Cantonese in front of a mixture of people from around the world working for a Chinese bank. It got pretty good response from (and serves as a good laugher for) the audience.

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.

My first big deal

I had been involved in regulatory notifications to the regulators including the Financial Conduct Authority. Interestingly, I was involved in the marketing project of the extension of Senior Manager and Certification Regime, one of the regulatory hot topics for firms in the UK. It reminds me of what I did in university as one of the executive committee members of a business student club. Lawyers these days do not purely do legal work, the dynamics of the legal industry have changed. A lot of marketing and branding activities have to be done in order to outshine other law firms.

I would encourage everyone, with the opportunity, to work in one of our international offices. Getting involved in cross-border transactions is an invaluable experience.

Work-life balance

NRF does a great job in offering work-life balance for their employees. It is important to learn how to prioritize work, to manage time and people’s expectation. 

Everyone has different methods to destress. Personally, I like going to dance classes and trying out different types of dance, like tango and ballet.