Having never been to Asia, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from Hong Kong. So I packed the essentials: passport, a kilo of parmesan and a litre of Italian olive oil. Worse come to worse, I thought, I’d have enough to survive on for a few months. If only I had known that Hong Kong is a place where you can find anything and everything you can think of!
Ropes & Gray’s office is on the 41st floor of a skyscraper in Hong Kong’s financial district and secondees are given an apartment 10 minutes from it, which also happens to be five minutes from the restaurant and cultural districts, coupled with the fact that Hong Kong gives you an energy you never thought you had, and you will find that it is truly the city that never sleeps.
The office is smaller than the London office so inevitably if a few deals hit at once, work hours can be long. The upside: on my first week, I was part of two closings and drafted documents that in London I could have only hoped to proofread – a legal opinion, security documents, even a small part of a facility agreement.
Working in one of Asia’s main financial hubs means that you can encounter completely different financial players, spanning from Mauritius to Japan to India and the PRC – which means that whilst the work is similar to what we do in London, the differences in markets, jurisdictions and the cultural set-up of clients makes for a completely new and different experience.
Associates know that I am here for only six months and encourage me to travel in my downtime. Given the location of the office I’ve been lucky enough to visit Taiwan, mainland China and Macau and I am about to fly to Vietnam for the holidays. I’m also hoping to be able to squeeze-in Burma and Japan before heading back in February 2016 on qualification.
While it’s easy to jump on a plane and be at the four corners of Asia in a few hours, the island itself is extraordinary. Beaches, hikes, pool parties on the 73rd floor of skyscrapers, cheap foot massages, weekend junks… whoever you are and whatever you like to do, Hong Kong will probably be the place to do it.
Lorenza Prelz Oltramonti is a trainee at Ropes and Gray