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As a major international financial centre, Hong Kong regularly attracts a tremendous number of mainland and foreign companies to raise initial public offering funds and issue debts. Apart from its leading stock and debt markets positions, Hong Kong is also an active mergers and acquisitions market in the region, and legal services are always in strong demand. Across the broad spectrum of capital markets transactions, M&As, and litigation, internal legal departments of corporations and financial institutions and lawyers in both local and international law firms play an important role in all of these transactions and matters.
Corporate lawyers offer advice and solutions to companies and financial institutions across a range of practices:
Take mainland enterprises as an example. Some of them choose to set up holding companies in Hong Kong when they decide to list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. To facilitate the introduction of foreign investors and new capital, the process may involve bridge loan arrangements or convertible bond issuance. Pre-listing restructuring and multi-parties financing activities require heavy engagement of legal advisors.
When doing business, it is inevitable that corporations and financial institutions may be involved in business disputes. In recent years, the total number of lawsuits and the amount of compensations have both jumped significantly. Also with a tighter regulatory regime in place, corporations and financial institutions have to meet the more stringent regulatory requirements on the counter-financing of terrorism and anti-money laundering issues. Breaches (inadvertent or otherwise) of these regulations and rules may mean that corporations and financial institutions will be the subject of investigations and prosecutions.
Lawyers play an active role by advising their clients what the legal position is, help them resolve their disputes in a solution orientated fashion and guide them through internal and external investigations, even advising on crisis management to minimize the negative impacts on the reputation and financial situation.
These are only part of the responsibilities of a lawyer. As commercial and regulatory environments vary from industry to industry, and legal frameworks vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, lawyers working on cross-border and complex transactions will need to inform themselves of the relevant laws and regulations on an ongoing basis.
International and large law firms offer vacation schemes in both the summer and winter months to host interns who are interested in gaining a training contract with them. The duration of these vacation schemes varies from 2 - 4 weeks and these schemes provide a valuable opportunity for interns to understand not only the type of work aparticular firm focuses on but also its culture and structure.
For these firms, the vacation scheme usually forms part of the recruitment process and trainee solicitors are frequently selected from interns who have spent some time with them.
During the two-year training program, trainee solicitors are assigned to work with experienced solicitors so that they can gain experience and learn “on the job”. In most law firms, trainee solicitors rotate through different departments and practise in areas such as corporate, banking, civil litigation, criminal litigation, property and intellectual property. They are also given the opportunity to learn and practise their skills in areas such as client communication, interviewing, legal research, practice support, drafting, negotiation and advocacy.
Trainee Solicitor -> Solicitor -> Counsel -> Partner