| Prudential Corporation Asia, Hong Kong
Alice Chan’s career is notable for encompassing three branches of legal work: private practice, academia and in-house. Chan enjoyed a successful private practice career culminating in a corporate partner role at Clifford Chance, having worked in their Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok offices. In 2002 she decided to take up a position as a professor of law with Hong Kong University after she started a family, and two years later she was recruited to be the general counsel of Pacific Century Premium Developments, a Hong Kong listed company under businessman Richard Li. Chan’s expertise and experience then led to her being appointed as the Asia general counsel of Prudential in February 2009. In her eight years with Prudential, a multinational insurance company, Chan’s work has involved executing highly complex cross-border deals, including the acquisitions of Thanachart Life in Thailand and UOB Life in Singapore, along with setting up internal policies and procedures and providing staff training aimed at properly managing legal risk across 14 jurisdictions in Asia. An expert in dealing with regulatory bodies, Chan advises it is important to ensure that ‘messages to different regulators are consistent, as they do communicate with each other’. She has also successfully grown the legal team since her appointment, expanding it to around six lawyers at the regional level now and around 70 across the local business units. In order to ensure that legal support is provided whenever needed, Chan has streamlined communication procedures within the business: ‘Each regional office department and local business unit has a designated lawyer in the regional team as their contact person… we require our lawyers to be quite versatile as we have limited in-house resources and do not have a rigid division of work by geography or practice area’. Chan believes that to be a successful in-house lawyer, one should bear in mind that ‘trust and respect are earned, and do not come with the job title’, an important fact given that this means that the business will approach the legal team early which will pay dividends in the better management of legal risks. ‘It is important to establish this kind of working relationship with the business people in order for the legal function to be effective’, Chan explains, ‘for the sake of the company and our lawyers. If legal is involved very late in the process there will not be enough time to do a proper review and negotiation of the contract and, where relevant, the deal structure’.