ALB Conversations: Terence Foo, Clifford Chance China Co-Managing Partner
Terence Foo has over 20 years of experience in advising on cross-border M&A and joint ventures, including advising multinational clients on cross-border M&A, as well as advising Chinese clients on their outbound investments. He has advised clients on a broad range of sectors and has particular expertise in the TMT, financial services, energy, mining and consumer goods and retail sectors.
Apart from Mr. Foo’s cross border M&A experience, he also heads the China private equity practice and has extensive experience in advising private equity and sovereign wealth funds on investments in China, including buyouts, take-privates, PIPEs, growth capital/venture capital, pre IPO and cornerstone investments in China.
Mr. Foo has won many awards granted by the legal directories, including China International Dealmaker of the Year in ALB China Law Awards 2014 and ALB China 2020 Top 15 M&A Lawyers. Mr. Foo has become Clifford Chance China Co-Managing Partner since 2016.
ALB：How would you describe your overall strategy for the firm？
Foo: We look ahead to what our clients' need and we develop and invest in our people to deliver a high quality service to meet their needs. We have a broad and diverse base of clients, ranging from world renowned multinational corporates and financial institutions to leading Chinese state-owned enterprises, private-owned enterprises, tech companies and financial institutions. Our clients are doing more complex and sophisticated deals and, in anticipation, we've built up a deep bench of partners in China to provide on-the-ground expertise, across key areas.
Our people are our most valuable assets. We are dedicated to recruiting, developing and promoting local talent, with the aim of helping our PRC background lawyers become world-class lawyers. We believe in the power of teams, working in a collaborative and inclusive culture, to deliver the benefits of our global network to our clients.
ALB：How do you feel the pandemic reshapes the way your firm operates？
Foo: Our top priority is the health and wellbeing of our people. Fortunately, we had invested heavily in technology, which allowed our people to work from home efficiently during the pandemic. In addition, we provided all employees with an allowance to set up their "home office". Our lawyers are highly motivated and used to working collaboratively, and we can count on them to deliver even when working remotely.
As the situation improved, we took incremental steps to enable our employees to return to the office. Even though we have fully resumed working in the office, we still continue to offer flexibility and do not insist on fixed working hours in the office. We don't have a culture of "face time" and trust our employees to do the right thing.
Physical meetings are important, but our clients are also becoming more open-minded to alternative ways of working. Before the onset of this special period, no one would have believed that a HK IPO could be done by teams working remotely. But this was the case for JD.com's IPO and secondary listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange which was completed in the midst of the pandemic, where we acted for the joint sponsors. It was done without the famous "printer sessions".
ALB：What kind of internal culture are you looking to foster？
Foo: Our culture is an open and collaborative one, focused on excellence, and supports diversity and inclusiveness.
To foster a culture of open communications, we encourage our partners and lawyers to be approachable, to keep an open mind to different views and we discourage unnecessary hierarchy. We want our employees to have a growth mindset, to be continuously learning and improving, so as to deliver excellent client service. We also value respect in the way that we treat one another, which is a key part of supporting diversity and inclusiveness.
ALB：How would you describe your hiring and talent retention strategy? What kinds of lawyers would make the best fit for your firm？
Foo: Our ability to attract talent and build the best teams comes down to three key areas: offering international exposure and experience advising on market-leading and complex deals for top clients; working in a diverse and inclusive team environment with a collaborative culture; and working for a firm that focuses on their professional development and wellbeing.
We appeal to people who are highly motivated, able to come up with commercial and practical solutions, collaborative, and are good communicators.
ALB：What is the best piece of advice you have ever received？
Foo: Hire people who are better than you, and help them achieve success.
ALB Conversations is a weekly series of in-depth Q&As with leaders of law firms and in-house legal departments across Asia. If you are a managing partner or general counsel based in the region who is interested in being a part of this series, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.