1. You have considerable experience in advising high net worth individuals (including those with US connections) on the establishment and restructuring of their family trusts, relinquishment of US citizenship or green card and their pre-US immigration planning, as well as those who are looking to invest in US real estate and compliance with their US tax and reporting obligations. Tell us what inspired you to this career focus, how has qualifying in New York help your career development in Asia?
Having decided to qualify as a private client lawyer upon completion of my training contract, I decided to get my second legal qualification in New York. Whilst working full-time, I enrolled in the Bar Review course provided by Asia Bar Review. The course was quite intensive, but was certainly helpful in helping me complete all components of the New York Bar Exam on my first attempt.
While I was a trainee solicitor, I noted that quite a number of private clients do have connections with the US – for instance, the clients themselves could be a US citizen or a US green card holder; the clients might have family members who are US tax residents; or the clients might own assets in the US. In each of these scenarios, private client lawyers will likely have to obtain US tax advice from US tax counsel. Being able to practise both Hong Kong law and US tax law would certainly be helpful to provide “one-stop” services to high net worth individuals here in Hong Kong or Asia.
2. What advice would you give to aspiring lawyers trying to navigate the challenges of working in cross-border, cross-cultural settings? And looking back, do you have any tips for junior lawyers who would like to specialize in assisting high net worth individuals with preparing their estate plans.
Being adaptive to change is key in this ever-changing world. Private client lawyers should have good communication skills and be able to explain legal issues (which could sometimes be quite complex) to private clients in simple and comprehensible language. In addition, as high net worth individuals tend to have connections with various jurisdictions around the world, it is important for private client lawyers to keep abreast of the developments in the laws and regulations in major jurisdictions. Getting admitted in, and being able to practise the laws of, more than one jurisdiction could help differentiate yourself from others.