On 10th September 2023, Hugill & Ip proudly celebrated its fifth anniversary. Since its establishment, the boutique law firm has consistently provided exceptional legal services to clients, earning a reputation for excellence and professionalism.

Today we discuss the last 5 years with the firm’s Managing Partner, Adam Hugill, and delve into the journey he made along with Alfred Ip half a decade ago, highlighting their achievements, growth, and commitment to delivering top-notch legal solutions.

Hugill & Ip Solicitors was founded by long term friends and colleagues Adam and Alfred who had a shared vision of creating a client-centric law firm, providing comprehensive legal services in a straightforward manner. From the outset, the firm focused on building a team of highly skilled and dedicated lawyers, ensuring a solid foundation for future success.

When and how did the idea of opening your own law firm take place?

I think everyone has moments while at work that they could do things – not necessarily better, but differently.  Alfred and I had this moment at about the same time in early 2018. Initially it was an idea that was floated (one evening over a couple of gin and tonics), but quickly dismissed. It was not dismissed for long, and the idea raised its head again a week or two later, this time with a plan. Once we saw our name and logo on a mocked-up letterhead that was created by a good friend (who just so happens to be a graphic designer) it all became very real and there was no going back.  

What were the major challenges you faced during these five years?

It was a steep learning curve from day one. Alfred and I had years of experience as lawyers – essentially advisors to other people, but now we were the decision makers – and there were a million decisions to be made from creating the vision and overall ethos of the firm, where the office should be located (and how big – office real estate was more expensive only 5 years ago), choosing what technology and IT platforms would serve us and our clients best to arguments over the optimum number of waste paper bins in communal areas. Once the big decisions were made, everything else quickly fit into place and there was an imperative on day one that we simply had no option other than to “make it work”. Undeniably, both the 2019 political turmoil and the COVID-19 pandemic were tense moments in Hong Kong and globally, but we are glad we were able to pull through such difficult times without too much disruption.

Over the past five years, Hugill & Ip has established itself as a leading law firm in certain key areas, while at the same time offering a range of legal services. The firm specializes in corporate and commercial law, employment, civil litigation, probate and trusts, family and matrimonial.  In all the key areas the team of experienced lawyers possesses deep industry knowledge and a client-focused approach, enabling them to deliver tailored solutions to meet clients’ unique needs.

What makes your organization stand out from other law firms?

We are a boutique law firm that, while offering a wide range of services, does not hold itself out as being able to do everything for everyone all the time. Each of the core practice areas is headed by a partner who has decades of specialist experience and has been recognised by clients, peers and directories as leaders in that area for many years.

What makes your law firm successful?

I am not sure I can answer what it takes to make a law firm successful after only five years. What I do recognise is the importance of building a team of dedicated people that share the same ethos. Law is a stressful job and tempers of even the most mild-mannered individuals will fray from time-to-time.

It is important that everyone realises this is not personal, it will quickly pass and everyone can share a glass of wine, mahjong afternoon, even a hotpot or karaoke evening as friends afterwards.

What new laws have been implemented recently in your industry that will have a significant impact?

Developments in the law in my practice area – Employment – tend to be relatively slow and incremental often involving tweaks to the existing legislation (additional days’ maternity leave here, additional paternity there). The proposed changes that will have a major impact (for example, statutory working hours, the removal of the MPF set-off against severance and long service pay) have been in the pipeline for years.

We are also in the middle of some procedural changes in divorce proceedings, with the implementation of the “Master System”. How it would expedite the divorce proceedings – or make the family court more user-friendly –  remains to be seen.

Hugill & Ip’s commitment to client satisfaction has been a driving force behind their success. The firm has consistently prioritized building strong relationships with clients, understanding their objectives, and providing personalized legal advice. Numerous success stories and positive client testimonials stand as a testament to the firm’s dedication to achieving favourable outcomes for clients.

What values should law firms prioritize with their clients?

Being straightforward and honest.

What leadership practices drive engagements and productivity in legal teams?

Since its inception, Hugill & Ip has experienced remarkable growth. The firm’s commitment to excellence and the trust placed in the firm by our clients has allowed us to expand our team and practice.

By clearly articulating the vision of the company and adopting a mentorship approach, I believe that leaders need to take action to drive engagement, but also build trust. Leading by example certainly motivates teams, in addition having strong technical skills ensures that everyone not only remains very productive, but also that all employees can keep growing within the firm’s environment while remaining highly engaged.

We encourage our employees to speak up and bring up their ideas. We urge them to challenge the status quo and become agents of change. We are small enough to be able to keep a very close and personal rapport with everyone on a day-to-day basis, while also having timely and more formal performance reviews that allow us to go through aspirations of career development and KPIs to achieve these medium and long-term goals. We reckon that such efforts and opportunities need to be bi-directional: employer to employees and employees to employer, at all seniority and position levels.  

What are the most significant legal cases that your organization has handled?

I’m not going to answer that question – my cases involve employment law and discrimination issues; Alfred’s concern wills, probate and estate matters and family law. The litigation team handle significant disputes and the company / commercial team are regularly completing significant transactions. Everyone thinks their case is the most important and often it is the last win! I think the firm has 60 reported judgments on the Judiciary website – that averages about one reported judgment a month – which I think is very good going!

On a personal note, while there is a lot of satisfaction in fighting complex, high value and prominent cases, for me the most satisfaction comes from helping someone whose being screwed, does not know where to turn or have any resources to fight and getting them what they are due.

What are the key areas of growth for your firm?

The firm has growth from about 16 employees in 2018 to around 34 employees now. We plan to gradually increase the number of employees, while still keeping the firm boutique. All the key practice areas have seen some growth, but the family and matrimonial department’s growth has been a real standout. We foresee this trend to continue in the next few years with the aim of keeping building one of the strongest outfits in Hong Kong for private clients needs: from estates and trusts to matrimonial, which actually we see as two different sides of the same coin.

What is Hugill & Ip’s approach to community involvement and philanthropy?

Hugill & Ip recognizes the importance of giving back to the community. Throughout their five-year journey, the firm has actively engaged in various corporate social responsibility initiatives, supporting local charities, pro-bono work, and community events. Their commitment to making a positive impact beyond the legal realm has earned them respect and admiration.

Our approach to pro-bono and community service is multilayered: one is to take legal cases from NGOs and other sources in areas we specialise and focus on. This way we can guarantee to the client the same level of expertise and best possible outcome of the case. Another aspect of our corporate social responsibility is to push the envelope on social causes we feel very close to, both as a firm and as individuals – these include cancer prevention and research, LGBTQ+ rights, ethnic minorities’ and migrant domestic workers’ rights, elderly and children’s issues, education, environmental protection. One aspect of our involvement is to help increasing awareness of certain legal topics within the community and another one is to give time and/or financial support to benefit these causes – sometimes organizing fundraisers where donations can be driven to specific charities, which at times include offering free legal services against donations to charitable causes.   

How does your organization see the next ten years?

The firm looks towards a promising future. With a strong foundation, a talented team, and a commitment to excellence, we strongly believe we are well-positioned to continue providing exceptional legal services to clients. Hugill & Ip aims to further expand its practice areas, embrace emerging technologies, and adapt to the evolving legal landscape, ensuring we remain a trusted partner for their clients.

This year’s anniversary marks a significant milestone in the journey towards becoming a leading law firm in Hong Kong. Through our unwavering commitment to excellence, client satisfaction, and community engagement, we like to think that we have established ourselves as a trusted and respected name in the legal industry. As we embark on the next chapter of our story, Hugill & Ip will hopefully continue to thrive and make a positive impact in the years to come.

Posted by Asia Law Portal

A forum for discussion of news, information & opportunity in the Asia-Pacific legal markets.

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