Jannice Lau, Special Counsel in Dispute Resolution Practice Group, Baker McKenzie, shares with WiFA her experience with mentorship, how she keeps her competitive edge, her passions, and much more.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I am a commercial disputes lawyer, with my practice focusing on shareholder disputes. I advise on disputes arising from joint ventures, such as management deadlock, disagreements on accounting treatments and boardroom disputes.
I am a very curious person and this keeps me motivated. I started my career with the firm as a summer student. Disputes Resolution was my first seat as a trainee and I enjoyed the challenge. I am now a special counsel in the Disputes Resolution Group. I am happy to say that the cases that I handle and the people I meet continue to fascinate me every day.
Outside of work, I love art. You can find me taking art history courses on the weekend. When I travel (and hopefully this will be soon), I love spending an afternoon at the museum.
Mentors play an important role in the developments of many careers. Did you have a mentor? If so, what did you look for in that person?
I was told early in my career to find mentors I would want to model. I was fortunate to find them in the firm. I value the lessons they teach me and the experience they share. I am grateful to have them as my sounding board whenever I need a second opinion and a fresh perspective. It is encouraging to know that they have faced similar challenges in their careers.
Through my mentors, I learned it is important to communicate as a team, and to receive and give feedback gracefully. Being told what to improve on can be difficult. The natural response may be to become defensive. Having trust in the relationship is important to delivering constructive feedback, as the message could easily be misinterpreted as criticism.
How do you stay on top of your professional game? Any tips on how you keep your competitive edge?
I remind myself to think a step (and oftentimes many steps) ahead. It is important to anticipate all the twists and turns that may come your way, as no one likes surprises. It is also important to think from the client’s perspective. We were trained to identify problems at law school and we are retained to find solutions as lawyers.
Think back to when you were starting out your career. What advice would you give your younger self?
Remember to make friends and build relationships along the way. We have a culture of friendship in the firm. I am fortunate to have made friends not only here in Hong Kong, but also with lawyers in other offices. My friends are my support system and it is never too early to start building relationships.