Interview with: Simon M. Y. Chan, Esq., Hong Kong Office Head

Dorsey & Whitney LLP | View firm profile

Hong Kong Office Head, Simon Chan explains how the Dorsey is helping our clients succeed in changing times since the pandemic.

What do you see as the main points that differentiate Dorsey & Whitney from your competitors?

We focus on our core values and the practice areas and match them with our industry knowledge. Our Firm’s core values are clients, colleagues and communities. They may sound like corporate slogans for others but we hold them true to our hearts on a daily legal practice and management basis to do the best for our clients, colleagues and communities. As such, we have a unique ‘Dorsey DNA’ about how we help out clients succeed in changing times. We are very proud of our Dorsey DNA!  Our Dorsey DNA allows our Firms’ colleagues to be the best that they can be. They achieve greatness for our clients and for their professional careers.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

From a Hong Kong perspective, we see growth in our four areas of focus. They are IP, cross border disputes resolution, corporate and wealth management. The drivers seem to be local China and Hong Kong based clients seeking us out for sophisticated international legal work. Clients know that they will be able to obtain multi-disciplinary solutions to resolve VUCA situations. With Hong Kong being a legal hub, financial and wealth management center, our clients demand one firm solutions for their legal needs in China, Hong Kong and where Dorsey have offices such as in the USA, London and Canada.

What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

Since the beginning of 2021, I have designed and run a program each week to build communities for our lawyers across our global platform. The program has led to clients benefiting from our worldwide legal knowledge, innovation and opportunities from all corners of the globe. We have a lot to offer across the 19 offices, and I have put a lot of effort into connecting those dots. It results in better client outcomes.

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

Yes, technology is definitely changing how we interact with clients especially during the pandemic.  The use of telecommunications technology are bringing us closer than ever before with our clients regardless of location. For example, a cross border M&A closing can be happening in one location while principals, counterparts and lawyers are scattered in various locations. Technology brings everyone in different parts of the world to this single place and one single moment to make the deal happen.

We are very proud of DorseyLegalMine. We have state of the art solutions and technologies (including AI) to help review high volume of documents at increased speed, increased relevance and cost efficiency.

Also, we have a Legal Lab based out of Hong Kong. The Lab is similar to an experiment lab in a Silicon Valley campus in letting our lawyers test drive the latest legal tech and to create innovative solutions to tackle real life legal problems for our clients before they happen. The Lab has been a strong momentum propelling our thinking on legal trends, our legal offerings development and services delivery to our clients. The Lab helps find innovative ways to let clients access our services more efficiently. The Legal Lab is an essential part of our process to solve VUCA legal and business problems in a changing world.

The pandemic has caused all of the legal industry to embrace technologies like video conferencing. The increased use of that technology has really allowed Dorsey to close the distance between offices. I think we are more truly full-service than ever before, in part because of the need to make technological adjustments to face the pandemic crisis.

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

One example that I can give is when a longstanding client asked us to advise on their viability to go public. And if so, in which markets, among USA, London, China and Hong Kong. We came up with a decision tree for the client to guide them with the decision making process. After which, we were involved with the selection of investment banks, their additional law firm, auditor, industry advisor, internal control consultant and etc. As a result, we are working very closely with the client in the IPO process.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

Our clients are relying on their trusted legal advisors to guide them through changes that are happening in the business and regulatory environments. The changes are happening at an unprecedented rate and scale whereby industries are created and forever transformed with latest government policies changes. I like to think that corporate structures and strategies should stand the test of time. As such, we work with our clients to build strategies to future proof their business in changing uncertain times. .

We expect our Firm to continue to grow in number of lawyers and practice areas that we offer in our locations in China, Canada, London and USA.  I have mentioned VUCA issues that our clients face, and our growth is aimed at continually becoming more sophisticated to help our clients with those issues.