On the Road: Joshua Damm

Hong Kong secondee Josh Damm considers himself fortunate to have had expansive opportunities as a junior lawyer. He talks about a well-considered path into the law and the rewarding experiences that have shaped his career so far.

Photo credit: Gareth Jones Photography, Hong Kong

Before joining the firm, I had already developed some insight on what to expect from a career in Big Law. Previously, my work as a litigation paralegal at an Am Law 100 firm led me to enroll in law school. As a student, I completed externships with the US Department of Justice, while developing an interest in corporate, securities, finance and private international law courses.

The time demand and personal sacrifices required to produce a high-quality work product were well-advertised as I began to evaluate my career path as an attorney. But the advantages of strong training and mentoring opportunities, the ability to work on sophisticated cross-border transactions for international clients, earning potential and advancement opportunities all motivated me to seek out a law firm with a global footprint and an international focus.

As part of the inaugural class of the Transactional Pool in New York, I experienced the value of the firm’s innovative “free-market” system for developing junior associates. This led to a secondment opportunity with the US capital markets group in Hong Kong, and the prospect of returning to the Asia Pacific region, where I had worked briefly as a summer law clerk in the firm’s Beijing and Shanghai offices.

Working on cross-border transactions in Hong Kong presents some new challenges and opportunities. Some initial challenges were very basic, such as learning different customs and market practices, and managing transaction logistics around different time zones and the diverse holidays across Southeast Asia. Other challenges are more complex and ongoing, such as reconciling the different approaches to a legal question across different legal systems. Language, customs and relationships are important facets of my practice here, particularly in negotiating a workable solution that satisfies all parties to a cross-border transaction.

A secondment is an incredibly rewarding experience. It has not only provided substantive work opportunities and extensive client contact early in my career, but also required me to adapt my skillset to a new training model and different office dynamic. I share an office with a US capital markets partner, which has provided invaluable access to a colleague who is successful at the highest level. Throughout any given day, I benefit from observing his approach to client inquiries, while also receiving instant feedback on a matter, or a seasoned perspective on how current events affect the Asian capital markets practice. The firm’s culture and quality are consistent across offices, but the secondment experience has shown me how our reputation is perceived globally and how we deliver our services to clients in various legal markets.

Throughout the journey, my mentors in New York have continued to be great resources, and that has meant a lot to me. Coming to Hong Kong meant leaving their practice in the interim, but they have supported my development and encouraged me to venture outside of my comfort zone.