Jennifer Wu is a Hong Kong-based Partner with Pinsent Masons specialized in Technology, Media and Telecoms (TMT) Law. She heads a team on cross border cyber, technology and data related issues, including crypto, software licensing, digital transformation, civil fraud/ asset recovery and data governance/ data protection. She has been commended for her strategic advice in contractual/ commercial and technology related disputes – and is recognized as a rising star for TMT and data protection work in the Legal 500 for Hong Kong. Having more than 10 years of experience in dispute resolution at Court and in arbitration, she also sits as an arbitrator in mainly technology related disputes. She is also the current Chair of Ciarb East Asia Branch’s Young Members Group and the Head of thought leadership for Women in Law Hong Kong. In this interview with Asia Law Portal, Jennifer explains her practice specialism and what technology-related legal challenges businesses currently face in the Asia-Pacific region. A former in-house counsel with Cathay Pacific Airlines, Jennifer recounts how she was able to forge a successful legal career.
You are a Partner with Pinsent Masons in Hong Kong specialized in Technology, Media and Telecoms (TMT). Tell us about your practice.
The TMT practice has three core focuses: (1) commercial litigation in the Hong Kong local courts; (2) international arbitration (mainly HKIAC and SIAC) on contractual and technology related claims; and (3) data protection and cybersecurity advisory. The team also handles contract drafting and negotiation for TMT clients, such as software licensing agreements and outsourcing agreements. The practice handles both contentious and non-contentious queries for local and international businesses.
What led you to specialize in this area of law?
I trained and qualified as a commercial litigator over 10 years ago. Contractual disputes was my bread and butter in the early stages of my career. Having grown up with 2 brothers, technology was always an interest as we used to talk about gadgets and software as kids. Naturally as my career developed, I began engaging more with IT professionals and those working in technology. I find the people within the industry easy to talk to and this area of law is fascinating because it’s innovative and fast-paced. Not many lawyers can solve problems when the assets are intangible and for me, this is what keeps my day job interesting! For now, we are all glad that we have moved on from the 56k modem days.
What are some notable legal issues you have acted on in your current practice?
We are seeing an increase in technology related disputes, especially in failed software implementation projects as a result of digitalization and civil fraud, recovering crypto assets or money transferred as a result of online scams and crypto winter. We often help clients in both pre-action work and in commencing or defending claims. Having a good strategy at the outset would be important, no matter which side of the fence you are on and this is the value that our team brings. For the data protection advisory, this has been non-stop since the introduction of the Personal Information Protection Law in Mainland China, which introduced the cross-border transfer requirements. We advise multi-national companies and financial institutions on data compliance within the Asia Pacific region, including the drafting of data transfer agreements and contract remediation given the changing legal and regulatory landscape.
What are some of the most important challenges and opportunities you currently see for businesses operating in China?
Compliance generally is tricky given that operations in China can be complex, however this is an area that boardroom directors cannot ignore if they wish to grow their business. From working with our offices in Beijing and Shanghai, we regularly help businesses with their white collar crime and data protection compliance. Finding a data protection specialist is a challenge given the personal liability attached in non-compliance with the data protection law. Getting internal processes in place takes time and costs money, however it would give greater confidence to drive the business forward and be able to grow internationally.
You previously worked in-house with Cathay Pacific Airlines. Tell us more about this.
I worked in the in-house legal team at Cathay Pacific. It was an exciting time as the legal team grew significantly at the time I joined. I looked after employment and litigation for Cathay Pacific and its subsidiaries. The main teams I worked with was the ground staff, cabin crew, IT team and also within the legal and compliance team. Working in-house meant I learnt what matters to a business, the risk areas, the in-house navigation and what a business needs from its external legal advisers.
What have been your keys to success in your legal career in Hong Kong?
I would say grit and my dedication to providing a great outcome for clients have been the keys to my success, as well as having a supportive team. I take time to understand the clients and their needs and ultimately the passion for what I do shines through. I was fortunate to have encountered many good role models and mentors during my career, who have inspired me to go further and without their time when I needed it the most, I would not be where I am today. I hope I too can inspire others to have the legal career they envisage.
How can clients and referral sources contact you?
Email (Jennifer.email@example.com) or a phone call (+852 2294 3377) would be best. Do leave a voice message with a number to call back if we do not catch each other!