Case study

Harriet McLaughlin Fong — Trainee solicitor

Addleshaw Goddard

Harriet is a trainee solicitor with Addleshaw Goddard. She’s currently on secondment in Hong Kong.

My time here in the Hong Kong office is moving faster than I would like. During the summer in Hong Kong, the weather is sometimes a little ridiculous. The average day is very hot, very humid, with the odd typhoon. However, summers in the country bring their own unique set of perks. Weekend boat trips, summer rooftop brunches, spectacular hikes and trips to the beach are all regular activities.

My average working day starts around 9am. After arriving at the office, which overlooks Hong Kong's beautiful Victoria Harbour, I make myself a cup of tea, eat my breakfast and go through any emails which have come in overnight. The time difference between Hong Kong and the UK takes some getting used to and many of our colleagues and clients are busy working while Hong Kong is sound asleep. As a litigation trainee, each day is very different from the last but I will immediately pick up anything which has come in overnight, action any outstanding tasks from the previous day, and pick up any new work from the associates in the team.

Hong Kong is famous for having a fantastic food culture, with almost anything you can think of being available to you no matter where you go for lunch. For the less adventurous, we also have what feels like a Pret-A-Manger on every street corner. I usually head for lunch around 1pm, often with colleagues from the office or sometimes with trainees from other law firms in the central area. There around 60 to70 trainee secondees from English or US law firms in Hong Kong at any one time, which more than makes up for the fact that you are the only trainee in the office during your secondment. If it's not too hot we sometimes sit outside with lunch. The office backs onto Hong Kong Park where you can watch turtles and cockatoos go about their business. Otherwise, we avoid any contact with the sun and humid air outside and seek refuge inside a nice air-conditioned building.

Once lunch is out of the way, I get back to my desk ready to start the afternoon. Often this will involve finalising documents to be filed at court by our court clerk, providing clients with updates, drafting court documents or correspondence, or researching particular points of law. It all depends on what is going on at the time. I assist the associates and the litigation partner on a variety of different cases and I am left to manage and run my own smaller files, which is invaluable management experience.

Once the work is done, and providing it's not too late in the evening, I usually meet up with some of the other seconded trainees for dinner or happy hour drinks. If it's a Wednesday we often head to Hong Kong's famous ‘Happy Valley Racecourse’, which is charming in its own way. Hong Kong is a city that never sleeps; the skyline really comes alive at night with a famous light show atop famous buildings on Hong Kong Island. There is always something to see and do, making it a really exciting place to live and work in.

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