Q1. You have significant experiences acting for global clients in cross-border disputes and advising clients on compliance and regulatory issues in the context of cross-border investigations with a particular focus in employment, particularly contentious employment work and employee investigations. What inspired you to this career focus?
I love the challenge of unraveling a complex set of facts, breaking the problem down, and analysing and/ or identifying the issues to eventually solving them. I also love engaging and interacting with people generally and with people of different nationalities, background and cultures. I therefore started my practice first as a disputes lawyers, as this area usually involves complex fact scenarios which need resolution and requires us to work closely with our team and our clients in what would intense and emotional circumstances. As each dispute and investigation will invariably involve different facts and different personalities, work is always interesting!
As for the cross-border aspects, joining Baker McKenzie some 15 years back in 2007 after practice in a Singapore firm, really opened my eyes to a whole new world of practice. I was presented with opportunities to work on cross-border matters and work with a high-performing global team. Different dimensions and aspects now have to be considered and strategies are forged on a whole new level. I now have the privilege of calling colleagues from Baker McKenzie offices all over the whole friends. No day goes by that I do not interact with my friends in one of our Baker McKenzie family outside Singapore, and I have the assurance that if my clients or I needed help in one of these jurisdictions, I have a friend I can call on.
Q2. You’re dual- qualified in Singapore and England & Wales. How does qualifying in both jurisdictions help you to navigate your legal career and what’s your secrets to success in becoming the head of Baker McKenzie’s Asia Pacific Employment & Compensation Practice?
Being dually qualified in these two jurisdictions is common in Singapore, considering Singapore’s legal heritage and also considering that we still encounter a number of contracts governed by English law. Another jurisdiction in which my colleagues seek qualification are states in the USA. Singapore is a dispute resolution hub and disputes which we encounter in Singapore for resolution do involve laws other than Singapore, and being qualified in a jurisdiction other than Singapore where possible allows us to deliver better service to our clients.
The appointment as the Chair of our Asia Pacific Employment & Compensation is an honour and privilege and I see it also as an opportunity to contribute to the Firm and to better support my friends and colleagues. There are no secrets to success per se but I would say that achieving deep expertise in the area and being able to identify the key trends locally, regionally and globally, establishing good relationships with our clients and delivering good service and being a good friend and partner to all of my colleagues around the world are key traits. One must have the desire to serve and be prepared to fully commit to make an impact.
Q3. As a ‘Litigation Star’ in the Labor and Employment space by Benchmark Litigation Asia Pacific, 2021, what advice would you give to aspiring lawyers who are planning to specialise in employment & compensation practice?
Step one is to learn and master the law locally and regionally. Multinational companies do not look at issues around talent or human resources only in one jurisdiction; strategies are typically rolled out regionally or globally. Step two: interpersonal skills are also as important as labour & employment matters and usually involve matters which touch on the livelihood of people and viability of the business; such matters are often highly sensitive and confidential, and at times in disputes and investigations especially, emotions do run high.