Skip to content

I graduated from Queen’s University in Northern Ireland in 2017 and was thrilled to join A&O Belfast as part of the Advanced Delivery team. I work with corporate clients and gain great exposure to corporate law, whilst working across many jurisdictions. We utilise legal tech to help clients manage everything from large-scale document reviews and complex repapering exercises to end-to-end contract reviews and negotiation support.

With parents of Chinese origin, I’ve always enjoyed learning about my heritage and visiting family in Hong Kong every year. I was born in Cambridge, England and then we moved to Bangor in Northern Ireland when I was five years old. Joining A&O Belfast was incredibly appealing to me as, as being an international law firm, there are many global opportunities. A year into my role, the managing partner and I discussed how I saw my career progressing, and I mentioned that I would like to be considered for future secondments. I have always been keen to continue learning and developing, and therefore spending time in other A&O regions was an attractive proposition.

When we holidayed in Hong Kong in 2018, I was able to extend my stay in the region, briefly working out of the A&O office in Hong Kong. During my time there, I worked on small tasks for the Derivatives and Structured Finance team and found them to be extremely welcoming and supportive. Whilst there, I reached out to partners who had relocated from A&O London with a Northern Irish background, and we discussed my interest in spending more time in the region. Following the trip, I was delighted to learn that they had contacted the managing partner at A&O Belfast and had agreed a secondment for me; initially for six months, which extended to twenty months in total.

I am so thankful that the partners in Hong Kong and the managing partner in A&O Belfast made this happen for me and were so encouraging. Never did I feel out of place for sharing my ambitions within the firm. I relocated in January 2019 with the mobility team organising visas, accommodation, flights and transport of my belongings. I became familiar with the deals ahead of the trip, which meant that I could hit the ground running when I arrived.

The team in Hong Kong advised and guided me and always operated an open-door policy, which was invaluable in helping me overcome a huge learning curve. As I developed trust within the team, I increased my responsibilities, and confidence, which allowed me to take a lead in transaction deals.

My time there was invaluable, as I could immerse myself in the culture, understand my roots and regularly visit family and childhood friends. I thoroughly enjoyed everything that the city and the surrounding areas had to offer, and I gained lifelong friends during my stay. Before the secondment, I could only speak the language conversationally, but I now have a deeper understanding of Cantonese and also learnt conversational Mandarin. I was also thrilled to take part in the annual dragon boat race festival, which is a major part of Chinese culture in celebrating the Chinese poet and politician Qu Yuan. The dragon boat races are typically made up diverse teams with a variety of skill and levels of competitiveness. Once the races are over, it is tradition to celebrate with your team on a boat overlooking the sunset – it was truly an invaluable experience.  

My advice to anyone with a desire to travel is to be open-minded. There was no precedent for secondment from Belfast to Hong Kong, but by developing great relationships and building my network, there were no barriers either. At A&O, there’s a refreshing appetite to support each other’s career aspirations. Together, we make it happen.

Jeanette Wu

Our offices