Associate in the B8 team (Funds & Asset Management).
How long have you been at A&O and what were you doing prior to joining us?
I joined A&O in 2021, and I trained and qualified at another international law firm before that.
What initially attracted you to A&O and what did you feel set us apart?
A&O’s reputation for high calibre work, but I was also drawn to its global reach, as well as its commitment to developing legaltech. During the interview process I also thought people here were very smart but also kind and funny.
What were your perceptions of A&O prior to joining us, and how did these compare to the reality once you started working here?
To be frank, I was expecting A&O to still be quite a conservative workplace, with lawyers of very similar backgrounds. However as soon as I joined it became clear to me that A&O is a truly diverse place and even has societies (with active members who actually turn up!) for A&O employees from all sorts of backgrounds.
What was your first ever job? Was working in the legal sector always your ultimate goal?
My first real full-time job was unsurprisingly at an international law firm as a trainee solicitor. Before starting my training contract, though, I did various internships that were not law-related (e.g. internships at a barista school and at a hotel).
We are proud at A&O to offer an environment where people can be themselves … What gives you a sense of “belonging” at A&O?
My team – every member is supportive and inclusive and does not ever make me feel out of place even though I’m not from London or “A&O homegrown”. During my time here I’ve also seen the team grow a lot and we’ve had people from other jurisdictions join us – making us even more diverse! Everyone has just been so welcoming and inclusive – and people actually care about my wellbeing.
What’s the best thing about the team you work in?
It’s very collegiate and not hierarchical – the associates all get along, the partners are very hands-on and collaborative, the PAs are supportive and fun, and our trainees and paralegals get stuck in very early on. The job can get really tough at times but I feel very supported.
What three things have enabled you to excel during your time at A&O?
1. Supportive group of associates – it really helps that we actually like working with each other
2. Partners who really want us to succeed and will go out of their way to help us
3. Generally, amazing infrastructure that comes with A&O being a top firm that’s been around for decades (e.g. very experienced PAs, great training programs and precedents, responsive 24/7 IT, etc.)
Which networks, extra-curricular activities, and/or pro bono and community investment initiatives have you become involved with since joining A&O (such as DE&I/sports teams/music etc.)? What have you valued most about these opportunities?
I was really pleased to hear that A&O has a dedicated society for East Asian lawyers called SEAL (Society of East Asian Lawyers). It’s certainly something that I don’t think many other city law firms have and the committee members are really dedicated to making it an inclusive place for us.
SEAL regularly hosts events and I’ve recently joined their KPOP dance event which was really fun and allowed me to network with other East Asian lawyers within the firm whilst learning to dance (albeit robotically) my stress away!
If you could spend some time in any of A&O’s international offices, where would you most like to go and why?
Hong Kong where I’m originally from (so I can spend more time with my family) or Tokyo (for the food, obviously!).
If you could switch roles with anyone else at A&O, whose job would you want and why?
I’d love to be a trainee again (but this time at A&O) – it’s such an exciting part of one’s career and you get taught so much in such a short period of time. It would also be really cool to work in Fuse as I think they have such amazing energy downstairs and the office/incubator area is quite a big contrast from my office which is filled with paper and binders...
What advice would you give to anyone considering joining A&O?
A&O is what you make of it – be ready to work hard and smart, but also don’t be shy to network within the firm. Most of the work we do will require input from other specialist teams and you never know when you’ll need a contact to speak to (even just to sense-check something).