Samantha Gershon is a Hong Kong-based Partner with Withers, specialized in multijurisdictional family and divorce law. In this interview with Asia Law Portal, Gershon explains the depth of her experience and how it informs her practice, Withers’ competitive differentiators, how technology is helping support this practice specialism amid the coronavirus epidemic, unique methods for coping with the stress inherent in law practice, and how aspiring lawyers can approach a future career in the legal profession.
What has been the most significant and memorable case you have worked on throughout your career?
My very last main case whilst working as an in-house solicitor for the Metropolitan Police Service was very challenging but exciting and rewarding at the same time. The action was to be the largest jury trial at that time ever to be held in a County Court in London. It involved 21 separate incidents over a period of 4 years and involved 120 police witnesses. I was awarded a Commander’s Commendation for the work I did on the case. It was very rare for a solicitor to be given such an award. I learnt useful investigative skills that I am able to use in my family cases. With my resulting suspicious mind, I am able to spot forgeries in the family cases I am dealing with now. My cases with the police were also jury trials which meant learning how to exam the evidence through the eyes of the jury and deciding how the police officers would come across in the courtroom. Using these skills enables me to bring a unique perspective to family law cases.
After practicing law for many years, how do you stave off burn-out and keep yourself grounded amidst the workload you face?
I took the alternative route towards qualification which meant having to study part time taking day-release and evening classes and some correspondence courses all whilst I worked as a legal executive with a law firm to gain practical experience. If I had any time off from my courses, I would continue to treat the day as a working day, getting up at my regular time and I would do my assignments as if I was completing a piece of work in the office. Being disciplined in this way certainly helped. It was hard doing it this way and I qualified after almost 10 years of being in the legal profession in one form or another. I just kept going and was determined to become a solicitor. Having qualified though in this way has kept me grounded. I never forget how I started.
What makes Withers stand out from its competitors in the market?
Our team is one of the largest and longest established of family and divorce lawyers in the world. We have been top-ranked in England and Hong Kong for over 20 years. We constantly create ground breaking new law in reported cases and were founders in the introduction of family mediation and arbitration. We are able to seamlessly protect our client’s interests locally and globally from our offices in Hong Kong, other Asia-Pacific countries, the US and Europe. Many of the cases that we deal with are multi-jurisdictional in nature.
What advantages does having such a wide-ranging and vast experience bring to your practice?
Not only does nothing faze me, I am able to identify quickly the different areas of the law that may be involved in the various disputes I deal with.
What are your thoughts on legal technology and how it will change the way the law is served?
The need for technology in the court room has become more apparent in the last few months due to Covid-19. The courts in Hong Kong now have the necessary equipment to have remote hearings so that if there is a need to close the courts again, the hearings may continue. This has led to law firms and barristers chambers having to purchase the necessary equipment to make sure they will be up and running should the need arise. There have been programmes for e-discovery for a long time and these will likely to be used more and more. There will also be a need for e-bundles to be used universally rather than paper bundles through all the courts. I have also recently written an article on how the Hong Kong court is making use of technology due to the pandemic. Please click here to read more.
Any word of advice for younger lawyers and aspiring lawyers?
Keep going and never give up if it is your passion to become a lawyer. Gain whatever experience you can in any area of law as it will prove to be useful later on even if it is in an area that you chose not to specialize in later on.
Samantha Gershon’s full profile can be viewed here