Interview with Janice Chew


 

Legal Beagle: Tell us about yourself:  What is your expertise, and how did you become an expert in the area?

Janice: 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, specializing in commercial and cross-border litigation. In 2018, I decided to set up JC Legal to help startups and small businesses navigate the ever-changing regulatory landscape in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.

Legal Beagle: How did you get interested in commercial litigation and cross-border court proceedings?

Janice: Cross-border litigation is collaborative work. I get to work not only with my own team, but also legal teams of other jurisdictions. It also involves close liaison with clients, discussion of strategic approach to dispute resolution, like whether an idea is applicable and feasible in another country. This is interesting and challenging to me as I always learn multiple perspectives of managing a deal and the laws and regulations of other countries.

Legal Beagle: Describe a typical day.

Janice: My schedule is usually a marathon of Zoom/phone calls or in-person meetings from morning to the late afternoon. I like working out around noon or in the evening too.

Legal Beagle: How did your earlier career choices lead you to where you are now?

Janice: I started my career in traditional legal practice like most lawyers. The turning point came when I switched to an in-house role and later worked at Thomson Reuters, where I realised that one person can only do so much, and teamwork is essential in order that people specialise in what they are good at. That is why I value diversity, and I run the law firm like a company. The legal professionals are meticulous in their practice, and the marketing specialist works on social media to build the brand across the funnel.

Legal Beagle: Did you have any mentors in your career and how have they influenced you?

Janice: I have encountered a number of mentors who have given me valuable advice both personally and professionally. They include my training master who taught me to think out of the box and come up with creative solutions to clients’ problems. There is also a mentor and good friend who sets an excellent example of managing a staff of 200 in a company, contributing to society and most important of all, maintaining integrity in business.

Legal Beagle: What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Janice: Don’t give up that easily and stay focused on what you are doing. Determine what you want before you work towards advancing your career.

Legal Beagle: What is the biggest risk that you’ve taken in your career?

Janice: It’s a tricky question. I would say choosing who to place in the firm is also a risk, as we won’t know how different people actually practice until you get to know them through working together, and when you know them well enough, it may already pose some kind of risk. After all, the law is a people industry. In our industry, we need to trust people, whether or not we know them personally as friends. This will continuously be a challenge and lesson for me.

Legal Beagle: What are the key skills and experience required for a career like yours?

Janice: Among the many skills and qualities that make a good lawyer, I believe the abilities to multi-task and think out of the box make one stand out from the others.

Legal Beagle: Of all your accomplishments, which are you most proud of?

Janice: What I am most proud of, and extremely grateful for, is the platform of legal practice I have built and joined by my teammates, for all of us to grow together. My colleague likes to call our firm “small but mighty”. The firm is never about me alone; it’s just as mighty as its people.

Legal Beagle: If you were to start your career journey again what would you do differently?

Janice: I’ll do it all over again! It has been and still is my wish to set out and reform how people look at the legal industry, like launching the Virtual Legal Clinic for people to consult legal advice easily.

Legal Beagle: If you weren’t doing this what would have been your alternate career choice?

Janice: The interesting thing is I seldom ask myself this. I may be in a lifestyle business – who knows? In fact I am now also developing a side business of an eco-friendly kids’ wear label Pichoun. If I weren’t a lawyer, I might have devoted myself fully in that and more.

Legal Beagle: Online training in the legal industry is relatively new in Hong Kong – why did you take a chance and become a speaker for Legal Beagle?

Janice: I have always been motivated to do things differently, whether venturing to start a law firm, or now expanding our focus to leverage on our cross-border expertise to advise businesses going abroad, not least legal training. As lawyers are constantly on the move, I believe legal training has to eventually go online to facilitate learning wherever we are. I am glad to be part of this digital movement and collaborate with Legal Beagle to deliver virtual training.

Legal Beagle: Why is/are the topic(s) you speak on (featured on the Legal Beagle platform) so important?

Janice: I taught intellectual property on Legal Beagle, precisely the revocation of trademarks in Hong Kong and the PRC. More startups are now aware of the importance of registering their brand names as a trademark, but disputes often arise out of cross-border complications. Hong Kong companies may also find their own brand names registered by other parties in advance, and the question is then whether there are grounds to revoke others’ trademarks and claim their own. With creativity in full swing for entrepreneurship, it is advisable for business owners to know their intellectual property rights thoroughly in order to devise a strategic business plan.

Legal Beagle: Are there any articles you’d like to share that you have published online, or that would be helpful to lawyers taking your course?

Janice: We at JC Legal have widely published on various topics of intellectual property and technology, including the impact of blockchain technology on the legal industry and trademark registration (video available). Online businesses can read our tips on e-commerce, and tech leads may take a look at our article on digital transformation and staff training. For more insights, please visit our website.

Legal Beagle: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Janice: In January 2020, JC Legal set up a new corporate office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which serves our ASEAN clients and facilitates our cross-border legal support and corporate work. Since then, we have been very active in building our professional network of broad expertise in the region and assisting startups as well as small businesses in devising their global management strategies. If your clients or connections need help in ASEAN, feel free to drop us a line to discuss further.