31 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS CHINA • 亚洲法律杂志-中国版 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM/CHINA Several of our firm’s lawyers know the GBA well. They grew up there. We have an in-house GBA committee to focus on integrating our practice, know-how, and soft skills with GBA opportunities. As you know, even the ecosystem of apps used for smartphones in China requires acquiring a new skill set to navigate the GBA well. In doing all this, we want to be the lightning rod that brings Dorsey’s legal practices and service offerings in our global 21 offices to the Greater Bay Area and beyond. It has been a role that Dorsey played well since we opened here in Hong Kong in 1995. On the non-contentious side, we help Chinese and Asian clients access Western markets. For the contentious side, we help our Chinese and Asian clients get the best legal help that they can get to ensure fair and just treatment in their regulatory investigation or judicial process under the current VUCA geopolitical environment. HWANG: Hong Kong has gone through some quite challenging times over the past few years. Many have wondered, particularly, in the thick of the COVID years, when we would see the light at the end of the tunnel. I believe that the financial secretary is right to be optimistic, and that Hong Kong is now in the process of a meaningful recovery. The difficulties of the past few years have also provided Hong Kong an opportunity to examine and to reinvent itself. We’ve seen many competitors leave the field in the past few years. In contrast, we’ve stayed and indeed adopted a deliberate strategy of careful growth during that time. Our firm has doubled in size in the last two or three years, mostly by the addition of senior practitioners with a following. I’ll admit that that’s of course easier to do when you started small. We’ve focused our practice in the last few years on litigation, contentious regulatory work, and insolvency, which has proven to be a successful strategy for us. I believe the time will soon be ripe to grow our capabilities in corporate and transactional work, a practice area which I think everyone would agree has seen hard times in the past two to three years. Our recent practitioner additions are evidence of our building the foundations for that growth. I do not rule out more headwinds in the remainder of this year, which usually means more contentious engagements, but am optimistic about deal work from next year onwards. LIN: We definitely wish to take advantage of the integration and advancement for legal services industry in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. It will also bring opportunities and challenges to our legal service business in Hong Kong. The most obvious opportunity would be that more mainland China companies and Chinese-funded companies will be expanding their business in Hong Kong, which could bring growth in legal services demand. In this respect, our background of mainland China-Hong Kong association gives us the superiority to provide a variety of legal services in both practices during this “golden window for development.” ALB: Going forward, what are some of the new opportunities and challenges you expect to see in the Hong Kong legal market for firms like yours? CHAN: To me, the Great Bay Area opportunities and artificial intelligence are both topics that present amazing opportunities and unique challenges for us in the Hong Kong legal market. In my management philosophy, to inspire others to achieve greatness, I coach a “we-win-and-learn” motto. As such, I expect we will embrace all the new opportunities while treasuring the lessons that we encounter on these two topics. HWANG: By far, the most significant of the headwinds I’ve mentioned above is the global competition between China and the U.S., and the uncertainty and disruption it is causing all around the world, and particularly in Hong Kong. President Xi’s speech in Hong Kong on July 1 last year, and re-affirmations of that position ever since by senior Chinese officials, has made it clear that Hong Kong’s position as China’s international finance, trade and legal centre is important to China. As long as the Chinese economy maintains its trajectory, Hong Kong as China’s centre for law in international commerce and finance should grow in prominence globally. Hong Kong also plays an important role as a commercial and legal nexus between mainland China and ASEAN – and while the two are already each other’s largest trading partners, I believe that relationship has much more room to grow. Aside from Southeast Asia, we are also seeing an increase in interest in Hong Kong as a regional base by European, Central Asian, Middle Eastern clients, perhaps as a result of the Belt and Road Initiative. That is an opportunity we are already starting to take advantage of. As challenges go, the uncertainty brought by the U.S.-China competition remains the most significant one for Hong Kong as an international centre for finance, trade and law – no one really knows how this will play out in a few years. Our strategy for dealing with this is to remain lean and adaptable, while looking for opportunities amidst the disruption. LIN: We have seen growth in issuance of legal instruments and agreements in terms of reciprocal recognition and enforcement of civil and commercial judgments between Hong Kong and the mainland China, especially concerning marriage, family, commercial and civil matters. Also, legal service demand for solving disputes like marriage and family dispute, civil and commercial disputes has been increasing upon recovery from the pandemic. However, there are few experienced lawyers who can handle the legal culture ROUNDTABLE SIMON CHAN BASIL HWANG LIN WEI