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An Interview with
Janice Chew
Principal
JC Legal
  1. JC Legal has established a broad practice in corporate and commercial law, regulatory compliance and dispute resolution. We pride ourselves on cross-border advisory between Hong Kong and Southeast Asia in collaboration with government authorities, trade associations and local professionals.

  2. Our clients are listed companies, licensed corporations and industry leaders in their own right, and we support the growth of entrepreneurs and small businesses through our flagship Startup Steward Programme. We also assist high-net-worth individuals in legacy planning and help multicultural couples as well as families on family matters.

Publish Date: 
5 October 2020
Executive Interview
   Executive Interviews   

Tell us about your background, and what are you most passionate about?

I am Janice, qualified as a solicitor and advocate in Malaysia in 2007, and later admitted to practice in Hong Kong in 2014. I was trained as a litigator, specialising in commercial litigation and cross-border court proceedings. I have taken various roles in the legal profession as in-house counsel for a leading manufacturer and specialist in legal intelligence. With the broad and multi-jurisdictional experiences, now at my firm JC Legal I help startups and small businesses navigate the ever-changing regulatory landscapes in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. My passion is to empower entrepreneurs by designing bespoke solutions with a variety of options that protect the autonomy of decision makers and provide room for the venture to grow and evolve.

Describe a time you had to make a tough decision (e.g. budget cuts, organizational restructuring, market withdrawal, etc.). What did you do and what was the result?

COVID-19 posed a major challenge to my practice recently. When it first struck, courts were closed (which was quite unprecedented) and the market went silent. All of us had no idea how long the situation would last, so in hopes that the firm could stay afloat and sustain longer, I had no choice but to cut some salaries as a temporary measure. It was a difficult decision to make, but also a necessary one because I did not want to lose any employees. Gratefully the team was also understanding and we stood strongly together for the greater interests of the firm. It certainly brought us together even more, which is the silver lining out of what might have been much worse.

How would others define your communication style? Do you prefer to be close to your employees or maintain a healthy distance, and why?

I am definitely the type who gets very close (sometimes too close!) to my team, and they would agree. As an all-female firm, we share a lot of common interests and topics, and we love teambuilding through hotpot dinners, happy hour drinks and boat trips. I believe this communication style is a way of being transparent and authentic to the people I work with, like family.

How has the industry been changing in recent years? What do you think are the biggest challenges your industry will face in the next 5 years?

Developments in legal technology, financial technology and regulatory technology are trending, and time is due for professionals like us to reposition ourselves in the services industry and pivot for future growth. Artificial intelligence and machine learning may soon replace much of the repetitive and lower-tier side of lawyers' work, so I think the primary challenge for us is to create and add value to the nature of our profession and make technology serve us for the better.

What personality traits make a good leader?

What motherhood teaches me about leadership is to be caring and understanding. I will have to nurture the career growth of my colleagues like a mother nurtures a child: listening to and empathising with their feelings, and giving autonomy and patience to see them grow to become the best versions of themselves. I am also proud to say the turnover rate at my firm is very low.

What does the future hold for your company?

I am looking to further strengthen the professional network of JC Legal in Southeast Asia. Currently we have solid partners in Malaysia and Indonesia as well as connections in Thailand and Vietnam. I look forward to building more partnerships and our regional service reach in ASEAN as our next milestone.

Contact

Janice Chew

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