Readers of this blog who either know me personally or have looked at About Me will know that I spent almost 12 years at the law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, thanks to Tom Jones (Thomas Edwin Jones), then a partner in the Hong Kong office of what was then Freshfields, now Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Freshfields). He was most recently a senior consultant with Fangda Partners, where he worked with several of our former colleagues, including Michael Han (韩亮) and Colin Law. He passed away last week (on 17 March) at the age of 72. He had suffered from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Among the most frequent comments from former colleagues in our Freshfields “old cadre (老干部)” Wechat group that “he was a good man” and “the best mentor.” Our many former colleagues are partners in other law firms or in-house counsel with major companies, while some who have left the law altogether and several of us are (or were) in academia.
I was privileged to be part of his multinational team of “China lawyers,” spread out among the Freshfields offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, sometimes London, and often one or more cities in Germany. Those of us from “the West” often had had a previous career before joining the team, and our mainland Chinese colleagues in the Beijing and Shanghai offices were always graduates from top law schools, with at least one 高考学霸 (top scorer in the gaokao). Because Freshfields is a Magic Circle firm, we regularly hosted guest lawyers from the Lord Chancellor’s Scheme for Chinese Lawyers, several of whom later joined the firm.
When I decided to leave City University of Hong Kong in 1994, he was one of the very few law firm partners with whom I interviewed who recognized that my academic background could be an asset to the firm. He fostered a sense of collegiality and team spirit that I subsequently discovered was a rare phenomenon. He brought people together even after he left this world.
May his memory be for a blessing.