How has your role / involvement in client facing work changed since becoming managing partner/setting up your firm?
Having accumulated experience from three reputable international law firms, I thought it was time to make a change, which I did in 2018. I took up the position of managing partner of LC Lawyers LLP – this position is expected to be the key promoter in transformation.
LC Lawyers LLP is an independent law firm. It is a Hong Kong law firm member of the global EY network, in collaboration with other law firm members. Being a Hong Kong law firm member of the global EY network puts us in a position that is unique from other law firms.
When I joined the firm in 2018, I saw difficulties such as misunderstanding from the public on LC Lawyers LLP being a Hong Kong law firm member of the global EY network, limited talent, and lack of firm profile from the perspectives of fellow lawyers in Hong Kong and even colleagues within the global EY network.
In the past two years, I implemented the following give key innovative transformations:
(1) Clarified doubts over our role as a Hong Kong law firm member of the global EY network – We clarified our nature as independent Hong Kong law firm and also an international identity as part of the global EY network, bolstering clients’ confidence and drive to jointly provide integrated services;
(2) Resolved the shortage of talent issue commonly faced by local law firms – By widening our practice areas with an addition of talent, we have expanded our clientele to include international conglomerates, official authorities, more listed companies and high net-wealth individuals;
(3) Built synergy with global EY network to provide integrated services – Having strengthened communications with colleagues and clients within the global EY network, our firm is in a strong position to provide legal services, along with services provided by global EY network in a wide variety of areas including tax, corporate restructuring, financial due diligence, business model transformation, wealth management, internal control, forensic services and data technology;
(4) Achieved international recognition – With a high-calibre team and being a Hong Kong law firm member of the global EY network, we succeeded in improving our competitiveness and raising our profile. Our expertise and track records enabled us to earn brilliant international accolades from reputable assessment organizations. For details, please visit our newly revamped website; and
(5) Revamped the website – We have revamped our website https://www.eylaw.com.hk with improved search engine optimization (SEO), meaning our website appears on the first page of Google searches for at least 44 relevant legal market keywords.
I am pleased to have transformed LC Lawyers LLP in to an accolade-winning firm which is realizing its potential from being a Hong Kong law firm member of the global EY network.
What are the biggest challenges facing firms in Asia Pacific and specifically the market in which you operate in?
When the economy slowed down due to COVID-19, there were less mergers and acquisitions, bank loans, corporate finance deals and business expansions for law firms to advise on. That resulted in fierce competition and price cutting among lawyers in those practice areas. Some practice areas such as dispute resolution and regulatory investigations are not so affected and some areas such as debt restructuring and insolvency are even experiencing a rare boom, but hardly can law firms switch their corporate and commercial lawyers to work on those areas within a short period of time. These are the biggest challenges facing law firms in Asia Pacific.
The global pandemic has clearly changed the way in which organizations tend to operate. What impact has this had on your clients and your approach to advising clients?
Before the pandemic, some corporations were already considering how to enhance the cost efficiency of their in-house legal functions and to make use of new technologies. After the COVID-19 outbreak, these demands clearly grew stronger. Internal counsels are now required to shoulder more legal work and maintain tight control over costs spent on external counsel.
We approach these changes in three different dimensions.
One way is to provide clients with comprehensive solutions by teaming with other professionals in the global EY network such as tax advisers, business consultants, accountants, internal control experts and valuers. This also helps saving clients’ energy in coordinating services provided by different professional parties.
The second way is to provide legal managed services in areas such as contract lifecycle management, research and regulatory mapping as well as managed review or discovery on large volume of documents. These services adopt new tech-enabled delivery models. The benefits include cost reduction, a more systematic of conducting legal work and, more importantly, the in-house functions having the time to focus on complex legal work rather than burning time on routine matters.
The third way is to assist in-house counsel by reviewing how the pandemic affects their company’s business operations. Common areas that clients need our help are corporate reorganization, debt restructuring, contract re-negotiation, interpretation of force majeure clauses, employment, regulatory compliance and data protection.
What do you do differently from other firms? What do you think separates you from your competitors?
The firm is an independent firm but is also a Hong Kong law firm member of the global EY network. In terms of clientele, our people may develop our own clients and at the same time build the rapport with colleagues and clients within the global EY network. In terms of services, we may team with a very wide variety of professionals within the global EY network to provide integrated services to clients. In terms of support, we may tap into the global EY network’s well-developed technologies and training resources on areas such as blockchain, FinTech, artificial intelligence, agility, innovation, data strategies, cloud-based services, and sustainability. We believe these distinguish us from other firms and put us in a strong competitive position.
Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?
We at LC Lawyers LLP will continue to expand our practice areas and work more closely with EY professionals to provide solutions with different elements to address clients’ concerns. Also, we are putting more resources on new models (such as legal managed services) to deliver legal work for our clients and for our people.
To equip our colleagues to deal with challenges in the future, the firm supports them in attending trainings and workshops of different nature. EY badge courses are provided to people in the global EY network (including our law firm) to learn, accumulate experience and make contributions on a very wide range of aspects such as technologies, industry knowledge and management/leadership skills. Recently, the EY Tech MBA program was launched where any colleague within the global EY network, upon completing all parts of the program (mostly online), will be awarded by Hult International Business School with a Master of Business Administration degree.
In the coming future, our firm will continue to fulfil our social responsibilities by providing pro bono legal services, sharing knowledge with the public on a complimentary basis, and conducing in charitable activities.