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Holly Hart headshot

With a keen interest in law and pro bono, I consider myself extremely fortunate to incorporate both passions into my working life. In the early days, I worked as a paralegal for a Sydney-based law firm and was delighted to be accepted into their graduate trainee programme. Before I transferred over, I undertook an enjoyable six-month placement with the pro bono team, organising projects and liaising with NGOs, and I knew that I wanted to continue to give back throughout my career. As a junior associate, I worked in the Corporate Funds & Regulatory team and found a permanent home in the Banking & Finance team, working across capital markets and structured finance.

Although my main passion is in law, when I was offered the opportunity to take a fledgling project I was working on and transform it into a national education sponsorship programme – The Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (AIEF), I knew it was an important pro bono opportunity that I wanted to support. I decided to take an 18-month sabbatical to work on fundraising for the foundation. I’m extremely proud of what our founding team achieved and remain inspired by the impactful work that the Foundation continues to do today.

I knew that I’d return to law once we successfully scaled the project, so in 2011 I was ready to pick up where I’d left off. As most of my old team had moved from Sydney to A&O Singapore, I was thrilled at the opportunity to join them. Within three months, I was embarking on a brand-new adventure.

Returning to the profession was everything I expected it to be. Moving to Singapore was both exciting and fulfilling, and I’ve successfully built my life, family, and career in this amazing city. In 2015, with a toddler at home and another child on the way, I was promoted to Senior Associate in the International Capital Markets team, and in 2017, perhaps with a nod to my enthusiasm for fledgling enterprises, I made the move to the newly formed Corporate Trust and Agency division. Our APAC Corporate Trust & Agency Team works with all of the key players in the Corporate Trust and Agency sector across Asia Pacific, advising these international financial institutions on a wide variety of matters, ranging from traditional capital markets trades and banking facilities to defaults, restructurings and bespoke advisory matters.

In 2013, I took on the role of Head of Pro Bono and CSR for the Singapore office alongside my client work. The partners here are committed to funding projects to create opportunities for children and access to education for all. My mandate is to make as big an impact as possible with the funds available, and we’re always looking for ways to maximise our contribution.

Since 2016, we’ve been working with Discovering Without Borders, a social enterprise whose mission is to provide children of all abilities with the equal opportunity and access to learn Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) in a hands-on and interactive way. Our office provides volunteering opportunities and, more recently, has funded the transition to online education, enabling over 1,500 children across South East Asia access to programmes.

We also partnered with Beyond Social Services here in Singapore. Even pre-pandemic, they saw the need for high quality internet access for all, so we funded a large-scale project that installs up-to-date technology in Singapore’s government supported housing. In the longer term, their aim is to work with and encourage the government to provide this to all underprivileged families at no cost; something we are delighted to support.

We are also working with Esplanade Theatres, a not-for-profit arts centre that aims to entertain, engage, educate and inspire through the arts. In addition to the wide array of arts and performances offered each year, they also provide carefully tailored performances of well-established shows to ensure they are accessible and appropriate for children with disabilities and/or who are on the spectrum.

Along with our funding, our lawyers also provide voluntary legal advice for a wide range of partners. Most recently, our staff worked with Hope and Homes for Children, A&O’s global charity for 2020 and 2021, undertaking a research project on the implementation of the covenants of the rights of children around the world, which is extremely worthwhile.

Many of us have a passion. Some of us have more than one. My advice to anyone with multiple ambitions is to find the right balance for you. With A&O, so much is possible.

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