A focus on international practice
Choosing Baker McKenzie from amongst the sea of other firms was largely due to the firm's strong global presence and focus on building and nurturing international partnerships. The International Clerkship program represented a unique opportunity to be involved on a global scale, even at such an early stage in my legal career. I have always been interested in the growing relationship between Australia and Asia so I knew that Baker McKenzie was the right choice for me to further explore this area and get firsthand experience on the ground in a place where strong partnerships had already been forged.
Following my Summer Clerkship, I was fortunate enough to be selected for an International Clerkship in Hong Kong. A city that is known for being one of the largest international financial hubs in the world and the melting pot in which Eastern and Western culture come together seamlessly. As part of my family is from Hong Kong, I had previously had the opportunity to visit as a tourist, but the International Clerkship promised a different perspective of everyday life as a professional in a top law firm, as well as a local, finding my place in a new home.
As soon as I stepped out of the taxi from the airport, the first thing I noticed was how vibrant and alive the city felt. The constant buzz of people hurriedly walking on the street, bumping into each other with reckless abandon. The constant beeping of the traffic. There was a limitless array of new sights and smells as I made my way to my accommodation in the Mid-Level area of Hong Kong island. Given the island's size, it is hugely dense and you rarely have to travel far to find a new restaurant or café.
My first day in the Baker McKenzie office was a great way to start the journey. I was introduced to the Intellectual Property Group, the team with whom I would work with most closely during my time in Hong Kong. Everyone was inviting and made me feel right at home. Similar to the view from the Baker McKenzie office in Barangaroo, the Hong Kong office overlooks a beautiful body of water: the famed Victoria Harbour after which Hong Kong is named means 'fragrant harbour' in Chinese.
It is a credit to a firm like Baker McKenzie that I was able to have such an inspiring and unique experience in an exotic and far-away place. It will have a lasting impact on my personal and professional development moving forward.
Intellectual property group
I had the opportunity to work on a variety of matters during my stay with the Intellectual Property Group, including conducting research on data privacy and artificial intelligence issues, drafting cease and desist letters, generating trademark reports, and preparing internal presentations on technology updates. My experience in the Hong Kong office has exposed me to the complex relationship between Hong Kong and China especially when a matter involves both jurisdictions. Due to their different legal systems, we are often required to communicate with our colleagues in China to resolve a mutual issue. This is an area in which Baker McKenzie has proven to excel continuously and without disappointment. Because of our strong global presence and tight-knit community, we are able to resolve cross-border, complex legal issues efficiently.
I was grateful to join the team during the Chinese New Year period, which represents the most important holiday in the Chinese calendar. During Chinese New Year, all businesses are closed for a week and people typically feast with their friends and families. This period is also famous for handing out 'lai see' or 'red pocket money' where the most senior and respected figures show their appreciation for their junior staff members by rewarding them with red envelopes. As the most junior person in the firm, this was definitely a highlight!
I also had the opportunity to join the Global Legal Hackathon with a few Baker McKenzie colleagues. A Hackathon is an event for people to come together to collaboratively build and launch technology-based solutions aimed at solving a particular problem. My team and I came up with a precedents management software used to efficiently manage internal firm documents. Although we didn't win, it was definitely a great learning experience.
Developing long-lasting friendships
The Intellectual Property Group took me under their wing and truly made me feel like we were friends rather than colleagues. I am extremely grateful for this International Clerkship experience as it allowed me to develop long-lasting relationships with people in Hong Kong. Now I have fantastic contacts for any cross-border matters I might be involved in and when I visit Hong Kong again in the future.