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Harrison Chen

Baker McKenzie has given me countless opportunities to collaborate and develop relationships with clients and lawyers of differing cultural backgrounds from all over the world.

The Leading Cross-Border Firm: 78 Offices, 46 Countries, 1 Global Powerhouse

My decision to choose Baker McKenzie as the firm to start my legal career was not a simple one. I can still remember pacing around at home thinking to myself, what sort of lawyer do I want to be? What sort of person do I want to be? The answer to these two questions (or at least to the second question) has always been clear to me. Being Australian born with Chinese Ancestry, it has always been extremely important to me to understand the relationship between the East and West and to develop the necessary skills to navigate effectively between both sides in business and in life.

Baker McKenzie has given me countless opportunities to collaborate and develop relationships with clients and lawyers of differing cultural backgrounds from all over the world, and in turn, has allowed me to gradually develop into the global citizen I am aspiring to be. Looking back, it seems Baker McKenzie has always been the obvious choice. The world’s first global law firm; a firm that was born global and which prides itself on its diversity and talent for understanding the challenges of the global economy.

It was truly a privilege for me to be selected to complete an International Clerkship with the Shanghai Office.

Shanghai

If I could describe Shanghai in three words, they would be immense, fast and futuristic.

My first impression of Shanghai was hopping onto the world’s fastest electric train to make the commute between the airport and my accommodation. Little did I know, while sitting there, on a magnetically levitating train with the skyline of Shanghai rushing past at 431km/hr, that this was just a small indication of what was to come.

My time working in Shanghai can most simply be summarised as witnessing something that would make my jaw drop with amazement on a daily basis, from drinking cocktails on the world’s highest observation deck inside the Shanghai Tower next door to sauntering along the riverside promenade and enjoying the nightly skyline light show, to experiencing the entirely cashless society that the locals had long become accustomed to. Perhaps what impressed me the most, was the speed with which the city had been and was continuing to be developed. 30 years prior, not a single building existed the Shanghai CBD of Pudong. Now the city boasts a skyline that rivals New York and London.

Baker McKenzie FenXun Joint Operation Office

Having the opportunity to work in Shanghai was special because it allowed me to work not only with Baker McKenzie but also with the leading Chinese Law Firm 'FenXun Partners' through our Joint Operation Office. The Joint Operation Office represented the first joint operation between an International Law Firm and Chinese Law Firm in China and put the firm in a unique position to advise on both domestic and cross-border issues. My time working within the Shanghai office's Mergers and Acquisitions Group provided an exciting opportunity to work with Partners from both firms. On any particular day, my morning could involve me working closely with our local FenXun Partners on domestic cases with the Beijing Office, and the afternoon could see me working with the Baker McKenzie Team on a case that involved lawyers from four to five other jurisdictions across the globe. I also had the invaluable opportunity to work with lawyers and clients from a diverse range of jurisdictions, including the UK, Germany, Finland, the USA and Australia. A highlight was getting to work directly with a Principal from our Head Office in Chicago on a Global Equity matter. Almost every single task involved collaborating closely with lawyers from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Japan. The most important and eye-opening work involved preparing learning resources for our own lawyers and clients on how US-China relations would impact the jurisdictions in which we operate. Seeing how great importance the Firm placed on preparing both our internal and external clients to navigate the challenging and ever-changing environment reflects what I believe has been the core principle of Baker McKenzie from the very beginning.

Final thoughts

Key takeaways from the experience are the cross-border expertise I have gained and the strong friendships I forged over the sweet aromas of Xiao Long Bao platters and braised pork belly, and over the laughter and shouts of encouragement of my colleagues and I as we watched the Shanghai Sharks Basketball Team battle despite being the clear underdogs.