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Life and Law in Hong Kong

by on June 21, 2010

Hong Kong has long been one of the main gateways into Asia for lawyers and finance professionals seeking to work abroad.  The metropolis boasts high-end shopping and entertainment combined with a unique cultural history which has been influenced heavily by the British.  The climate, convenience, high salaries and panoramic beauty all combine to make Hong Kong the perfect place for many expat lawyers.  However, as with all cities, there can be some cons to go along with the pros (we’re thinking air quality).  Recently, Law and More interviewed Matt Fairclough, a Capital Markets Associate at Clifford Chance, about his experience and particular perspective living and working in Hong Kong.

“How has your work/life balance changed since moving?

A significant improvement!  In Hong Kong I have much more control over my hours than in London.  Giving up a 45-minute commute in London for a 15-minute walk to the office in Hong Kong is a definite advantage.  If you have to come back into the office in the evening or at a weekend, it’s much less time taken out of your day.  The drawback is that clients are much more demanding of your free time, particularly on weekends!

What does your typical day look like and what was it like before your move?

I’ve traded in the 45-minute train journey or cycle into the Canary Wharf office for a 15-minute walk down the outdoor escalator into the office.  There’s usually time to pop to the gym either before work or at lunchtime, when most people head out for a good hour’s break as opposed to London where most people eat at their desks or in the office.  Generally the working day in the office is more hectic than in London, but I feel more able to leave at a reasonable hour and keep an eye on emails from blackberry or at home. And without the tyranny of the daily commute, it is far easier to meet friends for relaxed meals or a drink, even after a relatively long working day.

What do you think are the main benefits of moving to Hong Kong?

Financially it makes sense, the tax is low and salaries are pretty high. The work-life balance is also significantly better, and the travel opportunities within Asia and beyond are excellent. You’ll also find yourself in a community of people who are all in the same boat – everyone makes an effort to support newcomers, and make the most of their time here.

Any cons?

I spend a lot of time on planes back to the UK for weddings and the like, so a hefty chunk of my salary goes straight on airfares!

Finally, do you think you’ll ever transfer back to the UK or are your sights set internationally?

When I left London for Asia, I fully expected to head back at the end of two years.  However I’ve extended my contract a couple of times now and wouldn’t rule out doing so again.”

Read the full interview

Please visit us at Law Alliance to look at our available jobs and to explore our city guides which we hope will help you on your way to continuing your career in Asia.

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