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Natalie Ullmann

Natalie qualified into the Banking practice having joined A&O as a trainee solicitor in September 2018. She received her Juris Doctor degree and PCLL from The University of Hong Kong and a Bachelor of Commerce and Economics double degree from University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney.

Although I completed my undergraduate degrees in Sydney, Australia, my ultimate goal was to return to Hong Kong to start my legal career. This decision was twofold, from a personal perspective, my family is in Hong Kong and I wanted to return to be close by. Secondly, I believe that Hong Kong is a great starting point for junior lawyers to begin their legal career given the volume and complexity of deals we get here in Hong Kong; the fast-paced work culture also gives a junior lawyer a good foundation to prepare for their future if they do consider moving elsewhere.

I completed two vacation schemes in Hong Kong in 2016 one of which was with A&O. During my vacation scheme at A&O, I gained experience in the Litigation and Banking departments. This experience provided the opportunity to understand and visualise how an international law firm practices and operates and what it would be like to work in a truly global network. I was thrilled when I received a return offer and the opportunity to begin my legal career at A&O in Hong Kong. My experience in the summer vacation and ever since I joined has provided further reassurance that I made the right choice.

Beginning my career at A&O has provided me with a strong, solid foundation where I was able to learn from colleagues of high calibre and competence and develop valuable skills, which are essential for every junior lawyer.  Not only is the firm able to attract multimillion dollar deals, involving various jurisdictions and clients from different industries, A&O enables its lawyers from various global offices to work together on the same transactions.  During my time with A&O, such opportunities have made me realise how important it is to be a part of a firm that highly appreciates collaborative mind-sets. I also believe that having a work environment with colleagues who are approachable and keen to share their knowledge and experience; and an office culture that ensures junior lawyers have the support they need is equally important when starting one’s legal career.

During my secondment to our head office in London, I sat in our Derivatives and Structured Finance department. The opportunity to spend six months in our London office not only gave me a chance to experience the scale of legal services that A&O offers and expand my network of contacts at the firm, but also to take advantage of the facilities that we have in A&O’s head office. Working with colleagues from the London office by physically being there was also a great way to meet and build relationships with other trainees and associates from different offices.

There are a good variety of activities and events to get involved. I participated in the dragon boat race when I was a trainee, which was also my first time of doing this. I really enjoyed being able to work with colleagues on a fun and competitive activity outside of the work environment. Having to paddle at the same time in perfect harmony as everyone else further emphasised how everyone at A&O is a team player!