Cameron Adderley, Hong Kong managing partner, Appleby

Cameron Adderley is the managing partner of the Hong Kong office and global practice group head of corporate across the Appleby Group, which he joined in 2001. He focuses on corporate and commercial practice including securities, mergers and acquisitions, financing and capital market transactions. He also advises on joint ventures using Bermuda special purpose vehicles, including the structure, governance and financing arrangements for such entities and transactions.


ALB: What have been some of your highlights from your time in charge? And what are some leadership lessons you have learnt?

Adderley: I became the managing partner of our Hong Kong office in 2017 following 16 years as a partner in Appleby’s Bermuda office.  For the past seven years I have been the head of our global corporate practice.  My highlights consistently involve the team – identifying talent, encouraging and nurturing a colleague and watching that colleague achieve their potential. From my time in the Hong Kong office I have witnessed the impressive growth of both junior and senior members of the team in their respective roles.

Developing talented individuals is a great motivation for me and I have learned to trust my instincts when recruiting a new lawyer. Rather than simply focusing on the expertise they have today it’s about looking for the potential for the person to grow. How adaptive they are to the various challenges they will encounter in their career is crucial to succeeding, particularly in this market. 

ALB: How would you describe your strategy for the firm?

Adderley: Everything stems from service. The team can know the law inside out, but if they are not able to clearly communicate in response to a client’s needs then we are not delivering what we should be. There is a balance between both being proactive and adaptive and with the rate of change in the market both are important skills that I encourage other leaders in the firm to build and flex. The needs differ from client to client and in recognising this we must respond accordingly.

ALB: What are some of the big challenges the firm has been facing in the past few months, and how are you looking to tackle them?

Adderley: Like most businesses globally we have had to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19 and the measures that have been necessary to contain its spread. The first priority was to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our staff and their families and then to provide direction and support to our colleagues so that they could work effectively and safely from home. 

Internally the biggest challenge has been maintaining a cohesive and collegiate unit while our entire office and colleagues in our other jurisdictions have been working from home. Regular communication and interaction has been vital to maintaining a collaborative team based approach while not physically in the office. Technology has been a tremendous aid to this.

ALB: How do you feel the pandemic will reshape not just the way your firm operates, but also the legal services industry in Hong Kong?

Adderley: Whilst the way different countries have responded to the pandemic has varied and may have thrown up unique challenges, what is clear is that as a profession, whose stock-in-trade are our staff, we have had to embrace flexible working arrangements. Firms have differed in their approaches but I believe flexible working is here to stay. As a profession the legal industry has generally been slow to embrace flexible working arrangements. Our most recent collective experience across our jurisdictions at Appleby has shown that not only can such arrangements work but are incredibly effective and beneficial. I hope one of the big benefits will be the retention of talent and in particular the retention of more female lawyers in the profession.

This pandemic has created a shift in the expectations of those within the profession and clients with regards to the methods of service delivery. Recognising this, Appleby has embraced and invested in these changes for the benefit of the Appleby group and our clients.

ALB: How important is law firm culture, according to you? What kind of internal culture are you looking to foster?

Adderley: I consider this to be very important. A law firm’s culture should and will be built on a shared vision and identity. As a global business, it is essential that this is clearly communicated to be effective across diverse cultures.

I want to foster a culture where colleagues understand the firm’s ambition and they understand that they have collective responsibility for achieving it. Everyone has an important contribution to make, understanding this and their responsibility or ownership of that contribution is key.

ALB: How have clients’ requirements evolved in recent times (either generally or as a result of the pandemic), and how are you as a firm meeting them?

Adderley: As a firm which has always worked across multiple time zones, technology has always been an essential part of our service to clients. Technology means that we can provide an effective service to our clients regardless of time zone, office hours, or our whereabouts. This level of accessibility is a fantastic asset and one that is valued by clients. However it also builds an expectation that we are available at all times.  This creates a challenge, especially in recent times working from home: How do you separate your work life from your home life? This has become particularly stark during the pandemic where often both activities are taking place in the same space. To meet client’s expectations requires teamwork. Where the matter or transaction requires it, we will work with colleagues in our home jurisdictions so that we can deliver almost 24 hours of service without impacting service levels, and employee wellbeing.

ALB: Where would you like to see the firm five years from now?

Adderley: Our business plans will naturally have been impacted by the events of 2020. Changes in the way we service clients’ needs have impacted our plans but not our ambition for expansion.

Appleby has been providing offshore legal services in Hong Kong for 30 years and I would like to see us expand our offering within the region and in particular the diversity of that offering. The size and diversity of the market requires a firm to be dynamic. I would like us to be recognised as such a firm.


ALB Conversations is a weekly series of in-depth Q&As with leaders of law firms and in-house legal departments across Asia. If you are a managing partner or general counsel based in the region who is interested in being a part of this series, please send an email to

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