1. You are the lead associate on the Milbank team representing Tiga Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company, in connection with a proposed business combination with Grindr, the number one social network for the LGBTQ+ community. Tell us about the journey you took to be involved in one of the most exciting deals on wall street this year.
That is most certainly a landmark transaction! We are executing the deal out of Singapore with support from our colleagues in New York and London. I’m incredibly proud to be part of a truly brilliant multi-jurisdictional yet tight-knit team.
My journey to Milbank was far from conventional. I started my legal career as a debt finance lawyer in Singapore at Allen & Gledhill and went on to spend six wonderful years there working with some of the sharpest minds and heavyweights of the Singapore legal scene. As a senior associate, I was fortunate enough to get sent on secondment to Slaughter and May in London where the deal experience was just phenomenal; the clients were FTSE 100 juggernauts like Rolls Royce, Prudential and British Airways, and the transactions were large, complex and international. That was my first taste of international cross border transactional work and I’ve not looked back since.
Shortly after returning from London, I packed up my bags and made the leap of faith to join Clifford Chance in Hong Kong. This time, the mandate was North Asia debt financing work. I had an incredible time there – you can literally feel the energy of the city just by walking the streets of Central. It was also during this time that I decided to transform my practice into a more U.S.-centric one. That decision prompted me to pursue an LL.M. at University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and to qualify for the New York Bar. Upon completion of both, I was picked up by Milbank.
How does qualifying in New York help your career development in Asia and what do you think have been the keys to your success?
Being a New York attorney complements my practice area which is mainly geared towards international capital markets work. Clients in Asia looking to raise financing in the international capital markets tend to look to the large U.S. investor base as a potential source of liquidity; being able to practise New York law means being able to serve the client effectively. This logic similarly applies to a lot of restructuring, M&A and project financing work that our firm does in the region.I think it’s important in any role to have a mentor who will not only guide your career but will also advocate on your behalf. I’ve been blessed to have such a mentor at each stage of my career who has helped to propel me forward.
2. What advice would you give to young lawyers trying to navigate the challenges of working in cross-border, cross-cultural settings?
It’s definitely not for everyone! It was not easy to adapt to working in a faced paced and diverse city like Hong Kong, but one day, the managing partner took me aside and advised that I had to approach everything with an open heart and open mind – it doesn’t work if you keep benchmarking against your experiences in Singapore or London. But she was spot on, and once I gave myself to the city, the challenges became opportunities. At the same time, I think it’s important to know yourself and to do what’s right for you. Ultimately, if you think the kind of work that you are doing is not for you, there is absolutely no shame in moving on.
And looking back, do you have any tips on how to balance the study needed to get qualified, with work and other life commitments?
These past couple of years have been quite intense for me – I sat for the New York Bar and English QLTS exams, completed my postgraduate studies, got engaged, bought a house and landed a new job! Time management is important but the support from your family, loved ones, colleagues and employer is key. Milbank recently sent me to London to complete the English QLTS exams and were extremely encouraging and supportive. So too was my fiancée – so much so that she decided to take the exams with me! (She was either being supportive or she was there to keep an eye on me; we will never know!) But on a serious note, make sure you give yourself enough time to prepare and sign up for a good bar course – Asia Bar Review can help you with that. I would definitely recommend their services – there is no substitute for hard work and time invested towards your goals.