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Advice to my younger self
Hong Kong local partner Manley Leung

I started my career focused solely on Chinese law
I'm originally from Hong Kong, but grew up in mainland China and got my LLB from Peking University. My first job was with a PRC law firm, and then my boss at the time moved to set up White & Case in Beijing and I went with him. Having seen the quality of work from such big firms, I was keen to experience working in an international law firm myself.

Working as a lawyer in a rapidly changing country is exciting
The legal market in China was new; complex international work only really started around the millennium. It's truly pioneering work: As a lawyer, you're learning everything on the job and often setting precedents. The learning curve was huge.

I got a taste for international work
I wanted to qualify as a US lawyer and I studied at Northwestern University for my JD. I rejoined White & Case in New York as a summer associate, although I wasn't sure at the time if I would continue my career there. But the opportunities, and most of all, the people, made it an easy choice to accept an associate position in New York.

Never stop learning and stay adaptable
Laws develop and change every day, and every new type of legal or commercial product that's coming out requires legal advice. So always look to take on new work and push your own knowledge. That's what sets a great lawyer apart.

To be truly pioneering, you need to have a totally open mind
When I started in New York, I helped build the Chinese desk from scratch. I learned a lot from my partner, who was happy to start from the bottom to grow the business. We started out competing with smaller local law firms on small low-value transactions. In less than three years, we were mandated to work on a groundbreaking transaction for the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

It's not just about the law
As a young lawyer, I think it's important to expand your knowledge beyond simply the law. Understanding our clients' commercial environment, and the wider social, economic or financial environment is really useful. And ultimately, it makes you better at your job too.

There's a common culture in all White & Case offices
It all comes down to the people. There are so many nationalities, cultures and experiences that White & Case people bring. Not just their legal abilities, but also their life experiences or their previous careers. I couldn't believe it when I found myself working alongside a former soldier and a former guitar maker in New York.

It's important to me to stay connected to my roots
I knew no one when I moved to New York, and I really benefitted from being part of the Firm's Asian affinity network. It was a great way to get to know people and build a network, and of course we had our culture in common too. People also reached out on a personal level—for example, inviting me to their homes for Thanksgiving or Christmas or to their Chinese New Year celebrations. I've moved back to Hong Kong in 2014 to be near my family, but I'm still friends with many people I got to know in New York.