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Advice to my younger self
Hong Kong partner Melody Chan reflects on her career

Melody Chan is a partner in our Disputes Resolution practice in Hong Kong. She reflects on what she has learned during her career.

What appealed to me about White & Case was the Firm's entrepreneurialism
I came to the Firm to set up our Disputes practice in Hong Kong. As well as this exciting challenge, it was a revelation to me to see how seamlessly we work with colleagues and teams around the world. At the end of my working day, I can hand over to the London team, who then hand off to New York. For clients, it means that they get lawyers working on their deals and matters around the clock.

Diversity comes to life when you do something about it
Every firm and every company talks about diversity, but if it's just talk then nothing happens. At White & Case, there's a real energy and support for making a difference. I'm the Asia-Pacific representative on our Diversity and Inclusion Committee so I see how our actions worldwide create real change.

When you give feedback, think about how it will be received
As a junior lawyer, I sometimes took feedback too personally. I learned that it was not me being criticized and that it was ultimately an opportunity to improve my technical and legal skills. Law is about being precise and attentive to detail after all.
When I am giving feedback to associates now, I consider how best to present it so that it focuses on the work, not the person.

Before you ask for help, try to work it out yourself
No one expects you to know everything, especially as an associate, but you are expected to think through an issue and try to resolve it before asking for help. Applying logic and adopting a problem-solving mindset are key skills in the law no matter where you are in your career.

Use your voice
Even as a very junior lawyer, I found myself in meetings where I was asked for my opinion and expected to contribute. Being pushed like this really helped me grow and feel confident that I did have something to contribute. Being thrown in the deep end is the best way to learn. Don't hold yourself back.

Mentorship makes a difference
I think it's important at different stages of your career, to help you build a roadmap to get you where you want to be. But you also need wise friends and good colleagues. Sometimes they can be both.

Step out of your comfort zone
Every now and again, make a conscious effort to do something that feels uncomfortable or challenging. Moving jobs, discovering new areas of the law, learning a language or just taking on new ideas – they're all great ways to grow. And once you've done it once, the next time will be easier.

Hong Kong is a uniquely resilient place
You can't keep Hong Kong down. It's such a metropolitan, diverse and exciting city. You can feel the energy that comes from being so much at the crossroads of different countries and cultures. It's a truly special place.

The COVID-19 crisis has had some unexpected silver linings
I think that we have all had to quickly move to different ways of doing things that otherwise might have taken a long time to adapt, such as remote working. It's also been a time in which we have built our relationships and deepened trust with colleagues. As we start to return to the office, it's wonderful to see everyone's faces again.