Law & More: The Boase Cohen & Collins Podcast

Episode 39 - Sharon Ser

April 15, 2024 Niall Episode 39
Episode 39 - Sharon Ser
Law & More: The Boase Cohen & Collins Podcast
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Law & More: The Boase Cohen & Collins Podcast
Episode 39 - Sharon Ser
Apr 15, 2024 Episode 39

In this episode, we are joined by well-known divorce lawyer Sharon Ser, who reflects on her upbringing and early experiences as a legal professional in London, her subsequent move to Hong Kong and how she established her formidable reputation as the go-to person in Family Law. Sharon speaks with our Senior Partner Colin Cohen. Stay tuned. 

 00:31 Meet Sharon Ser: Hong Kong's High-Profile Divorce Lawyer
 01:30 The Busy Life of a Family Lawyer Post-Holidays
 02:41 Sharon's Journey: From London to Law
 04:47 Breaking into Law: Influences and Early Career
 09:54 The Big Move: From London to Hong Kong
 13:31 Rising Through the Ranks: Becoming a Family Law Specialist
 15:59 Building a Reputation in Hong Kong's Legal Scene
 22:53 The Transition to Withers and Establishing a New Practice
 26:05 Sharon's New Venture: A Boutique Law Firm with Rita
 30:22 The Challenges and Changes in Hong Kong's Family Law
 33:49 Looking Towards the Future: Retirement and Legacy
 35:01 Closing Thoughts and Gratitude 

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we are joined by well-known divorce lawyer Sharon Ser, who reflects on her upbringing and early experiences as a legal professional in London, her subsequent move to Hong Kong and how she established her formidable reputation as the go-to person in Family Law. Sharon speaks with our Senior Partner Colin Cohen. Stay tuned. 

 00:31 Meet Sharon Ser: Hong Kong's High-Profile Divorce Lawyer
 01:30 The Busy Life of a Family Lawyer Post-Holidays
 02:41 Sharon's Journey: From London to Law
 04:47 Breaking into Law: Influences and Early Career
 09:54 The Big Move: From London to Hong Kong
 13:31 Rising Through the Ranks: Becoming a Family Law Specialist
 15:59 Building a Reputation in Hong Kong's Legal Scene
 22:53 The Transition to Withers and Establishing a New Practice
 26:05 Sharon's New Venture: A Boutique Law Firm with Rita
 30:22 The Challenges and Changes in Hong Kong's Family Law
 33:49 Looking Towards the Future: Retirement and Legacy
 35:01 Closing Thoughts and Gratitude 

[00:31:00] Colin: Today I'm delighted to be joined by Sharon Ser, who is perhaps Hong Kong's most high profile divorce lawyer. Sharon arrived in Hong Kong intending to stay here for two years, and this has turned into almost four decades. She's renowned for being one of the best family lawyers, not the best, the Doyenne of the family law circuit, and she is the person you go to.

She's renowned for being confident. Forthright, brimming with positivity. Sharon, welcome to Law More. As I always ask my guests, what's been keeping you busy recently?

[00:31:40] Sharon: Hello Colin, and thank you very much for inviting me. I'm a bit worried when you say I'm not the best, but the Doyenne.

But, I'll accept that. That's not a bad tribute.

[00:31:50] Colin: Well, I do a little bit of family law, so we'll talk about that a little bit later.

[00:31:53] Sharon: I didn't realise I was competing with you. Well, of course I yield. Of course I do. What's kept me busy this week? Well I'm not sure when the podcast will go out, but we're immediately after Chinese New Year here at the moment. And it's a cliche, but true that for family lawyers like me, if you're not going to be hugely busy immediately after the Christmas holiday and immediately after the Chinese New Year holiday, you're not going to have a good year.

And I can tell you as one would expect, true to form, people are queuing around the block in order to come and see me after the Chinese New Year holiday. Christmas and Chinese New Year are those periods of time where people have this sort of inside look at what's it all about. Where do they want to go for the future?

And immediately after the children go back to school and as soon as everything's back to normal, you tend to find in my business that people are looking for advice as to how they can change their destiny in the forthcoming year.

[00:32:56] Colin: That's very interesting, because it's the same with me. Just after the holidays, we always get busy with people coming in and saying, I need to sort this out, and in particular, they realize they'd best come and see me, because they've got a real difficult problem and a fire to put out. Anyway, let's go back a little bit in time, like I like to do, and we'll go back to your early life.

You were raised and born in London, I understand, so perhaps can you tell us about your early schooling and your early experiences in London?

[00:33:22] Sharon: Yeah, I was an East End of London kid. My family came from the East End of London, the city. And my growing up was around the Old Kemp Road, South East London, as we moved from East London from the city. Went to a local primary school. My dad was a black Taxi driver black cab driver I've got three sisters, so we were a family of six, very noisy very happy, sort of very engaged family. We had wider family living close by, and went to local primary school until we did the great move West to Richmond in West London when I was about nine or ten years of age, and then went to school there.

[00:34:10] Colin: Rather similar to my background, my great grandfather arrived and it was in the East End, it was in the Marlend Road, Old Ford Road, but they moved north a little bit earlier than you did into the Hampshire Garden suburb,

[00:34:25] Sharon: a bit more fancy than Colin, actually, if you were going North and I was going West. 

[00:34:30] Colin: Well, yes, yes, I do agree with that. I can't really go back about that as well. So fond memories of school?

[00:34:37] Sharon: Yes, I always enjoyed school, always enjoyed reading, quite social, always into amateur dramatics as a family. As I say, we were making a lot of noise, always singing.

We would entertain people, if people came around. We were quite traditional Jewish families. So the network was quite extended. And when you had people round for dinner, it was expected that the children would put on a show for visitors, and the Ser Sisters were not shy in coming forward and doing various routines.

And we all had our sort of speciality performances, and we were happy to do that.

[00:35:16] Colin: Wonderful. Now let's talk a little bit how you got into the law. I understand that a well known politician may have helped you along the way. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

[00:35:25] Sharon: Definitely a push in the right direction. So having moved to Richmond one of my ways of earning income was to do babysitting. And I was lucky enough to meet Neil Kinnock and his wife, Glennis Kinnock, who sadly just passed away. They had two children, Stephen, who's now an MP, and Rachel. And I was doing babysitting for them.

And this was a very vibrant couple. And we got on very, very well, and when I was talking about my hopes and ambitions, Neil thought it would be a great idea for me to enter the law and to go to University. He was a great fan of the London School of Economics. I was much more interested in journalism.

That appealed to me in a great way. And what he thought would be a good idea was for me to start off with a law degree, which was a good general law degree, and then move out from there. I could get onto a journalism course once I had a degree. So, with a little bit of nudging and prodding, I did apply to go to university and was accepted at the London School of Economics and entered into a really vibrant world of academia, where people were not so hooked on academia that they weren't ready to go drinking in the Three Tons bar and have the whole of London available to them.

When I joined LSE, there were real heavyweights in the legal world. Michael Zander, john Griffiths. And in fact, funnily enough Victor Joffe, SC, here in Hong Kong, was my contract tutor at LSE.

[00:37:03] Colin: And of course, there's very eminent people here of the LSE. Michael Thomas, a past Attorney General, even I had a previous guest on and she was from the LSE. And Julia Charlton, who my firm is associated with, is a alumni of the LSE.

Very well known. And I did my articles in Lincoln's Inn Fields with Eric Levinenko doing work for Jimmy Goldsmith and all the rest. And round the corner was the London School of Economics. 

[00:37:32] Sharon: it was an absolute hub and constant noise, very, very international environment. So lots of students from overseas. Fantastic sort of quality, legal teaching, as well as economics and other fields. And I had a great time at university, and in fact, even now, all these millions of years later, some of my best and closest friends are the friends that I made at LSE, because you just sort of slip back into time as soon as you do meet up with them.

[00:38:02] Colin: Tell us a little bit about your first positions in London.

[00:38:04] Sharon: I will, I was working in Twickenham so back to West London. And what was extraordinary was having started the law degree, I so enjoyed the law, I rethought my whole vision of being a journalist.

So although I worked on the newspaper at the LSE, it was called The Beaver, doing a legal column very presumptuously at that age and knowing absolutely nothing. I decided I would much rather go into the law than concentrate on journalism. And I got my traineeship, my articles as they were called then, with a very small high street practice in Twickenham.

And there were just two partners and one partner was like 10 years older than me and the other partner was 10 years older than him. And I started at that firm and on my first day, was taken by the junior partner to the Citizens Advice Bureau and introduced to the Citizens Advice Bureau as a new family law and criminal specialist. The first day of my article clerk.

So when you're introduced that way, you suddenly have to become the crime and family law specialist. So the CAB would send work to me and I would go off and do that work.

And very quickly in that environment I learned a lot about crime and both family law and once I qualified, I was off doing advocacy in my local magistrate's court, Richmond, Kingston, Brentford and in the district court in Kingston and wider, doing the advocacy and really learning my trade as I went along. And there's no surer way, to learn how to do something than to do it wrong in front of a judge or stipe magistrate, particularly people who really do know what they're doing. And to be questioned and cross examined yourself when you're in court. Now, I loved it, it was scary sometimes. But I loved the whole experience of standing on my feet and doing the advocacy.

I really learned the art of preparation and learned the absolute truth. difference between going in and winging it and and going in with all the facts under your belt. And I learned that it was better to go in the latter route and really know what you were going to talk about.

[00:40:23] Colin: You're now in Hong Kong and the obvious question is how did you get here in 1986?

[00:40:30] Sharon: So with one of my LSE friends actually, so one of the LSE friends was then working for Schroders, the merchant bank, and they'd just been posted out here. And so with a group of other friends, came over to Hong Kong to visit him. And I was completely knocked out by the atmosphere here. I couldn't believe that there would be so much energy and so much buzz.

And I had a fantastic time here in Hong Kong and travelled to Thailand as well. And when I went back to Twickenham, I walked into my office to find two weeks worth of files on my desk that all needed to be addressed. And I just thought, oh no, I would just love to go back to Hong Kong and work there.

So as chance would have it, on the top of one of the piles was the Law Society Gazette And on the back of that gazette was an advertisement for a law firm looking for a lawyer specialised in family law with some crime wanted in Hong Kong. And on a complete and utter whim, I contacted the agency and said I think I'm the person you're looking for.

And shortly after that arranged an interview. And the law firm was Hampton Winter and Glynn. And I met one of the partners in London. And within days had been offered a job. And then the reality set in for me. Was this really what I wanted? Was I really going to go all the way to Hong Kong? Did this really make sense?

[00:41:59] Colin: Repeating what your mother said, because 1981, I had exactly the same thing. I'd finished my traineeship, my principal decided to go off to the US, and there was a massive advert in the Times saying, Hong Kong solicitors required, massive amounts of money. I was interviewed and I got the job, but then I had to tell my parents.

I told them a week before I was leaving and they thought I'd been going off into slavery or into the pirate's den as well, so very very similar when I arrived in 81. So you arrived in 86, working for Hampton, Winter and Glynn, family law, and easy to adapt in Hong Kong and any...

[00:42:36] Sharon: Remarkably so, actually, and I suppose at that time also at Hampton, Winter and Glynn was Bernard Gunston, who had a fantastic criminal law practice. Really charming fellow. I mean, absolutely charming. A real sort of rumpole of the Bailey type. Somebody incredibly generous with his knowledge and terribly kind hearted. Very experienced, and David Glym was there, Tim Gally also Robin Edgerton, who is now a barrister here in Hong Kong. So I've been friends with Robin for nearly 40 years, and he was a partner of Hampton Winter and Glym there. It was easy to adapt, and what was even easier for me is I was asked to immediately do advocacy within the firm.

And because I'd had all my knockabout experience back in London, I was very happy to give it a go. And one of the first jobs I was asked to do were the tunnel prosecutions. At that time we did all the tunnel prosecutions for the mayor, and it was my first experience in a magistrate's court here in Hong Kong, and virtually everything was done in Chinese because it was the tunnel prosecutions, and I went in with one of the clerks who simply told me when to say yes, when to say no, when to suggest the fine, and I just fell in love with the whole experience.

[00:44:00] Colin: And how did you get into the family law? Because I did a little bit of family earlier on, but then it's mainly criminal and complex crime. But how did you get to work your way up into becoming, the only person you would go to would be Sharon Ser. Tell me about that. I'm really interested.

[00:44:13] Sharon: My practice in London was predominantly family and then some crime. And I didn't want to let go of the crime because the crime is always good fun. And it's different odds and you've got people who are generally more relaxed. And if you get it wrong, they blame the police. And if you get it right, they think you're wonderful, you know.

But I had developed my family law practice and it was a practice I enjoyed doing because it clearly had a reconstructionist approach. People come to see you in a state of despair and bewilderment and even the people who are being proactive and wanting change are still facing sort of very major changes in their life. And I enjoyed the law that was associated with family law. A lot of people don't want to do it because they don't like the emotion involved. But there's actually some very heavyweight law associated with family law issues. And I enjoyed that sort of combination very much. And when I came to Hong Kong David Glynn had a big family law practice, and he initially introduced me to one or two clients.

And again, because of my experience, I was able to pick up the ball and run with it. And very quickly develop my own style of working with clients. Which was different to David's who is very suave and very English and I'm very much roll up your sleeves and get a grip and let's get on with this.

And so the development of my own style meant that it was easy, actually, for me to meet clients, develop clients. And then get referred work on my own. And again, in those early days when I was an advocate, I was an advocate against people like Gilbert Rodway, who was a very eminent barrister here in Hong Kong. I was against Michael Thomas who you just mentioned.

So, very senior barristers. David Pilbro And maybe I should have been more wary, and maybe if I'd have been a bit older, wiser and more used to Hong Kong, would have been a bit more wary. But I was just willing to sort of give it a go and bounce into the arena, and did so. And the more I did, the more I did.

[00:46:28] Colin: Yeah, so your two year stint turned into a lot longer.

[00:46:32] Sharon: I was always in the middle of a case. After two years, it really wasn't time to go back. And then after three years, I was in the middle of another case. And then by the fourth year, I'd already been made a partner at Hampton, Winter and Glynn. And I thought, I simply had to submerge myself in the opportunity that Hong Kong could offer.

And in those days, in the 80s, definitely 100%, Hong Kong had the sort of environment where you could become whoever you wanted to become. There were opportunities that were available to you if you were ready to reach out and grasp them. And actually, anything was possible. And if you explored an idea and failed, it didn't matter in those days.

You just sort of learned what was the best of the failed idea. And run away and do something else with it. And that was a fantastic environment to be living and working in, to realize that actually anything was possible. And I think I brought that same energy into my cases and was able to give pass on that sort of enthusiasm and possibility to clients who were facing new opportunities. 

[00:47:45] Colin: It's so similar to my story, because in my area, being sort of complex commercial crime, people in a lot of litigation, I was so able to set up my practice, again, with Mel Boase, very, very experienced, and there's two of us, in 1985, we opened the practice, I was teaching law at the same time.

And Hong Kong gave you every single opportunity to find clients or clients or find you and that good drive that we have, as well, press is our backgrounds. That helps us to do that because, we always brought that with hard, hard work and it wasn't that easy or, and that straightforward. You had to work very, very hard.

[00:48:23] Sharon: Very long hours, but I think also it's the enthusiasm to give things a go. And perhaps be a bit fearless about the consequences. And also I think humor helps, and maybe that's where you and I are similar. We don't take ourselves overly serious. And we're quick to find the humor in a situation. And I'm sure you're the same. I'm at my happiest when I can see a client smile or laugh, or even better, if I can make a judge laugh at some stage. I mean, so humor plays an important part in the ability to be able to get on with people and to get on in life, I think.

[00:49:03] Colin: So let me throw a curveball at you, which I should, you talk about your advocacy, Robin went to the bar. Did you ever think about going to the bar and becoming a barrister because you loved going to court and doing that. Did you give it any thought? Did you ever go down that road?

[00:49:18] Sharon: I did. I gave it a lot of thought. I did give it a lot of thought and I would have enjoyed it and I would have enjoyed the distance from the administration of running a firm and the distance of the administration of a case. But I decided ultimately I do enjoy that experience of a relationship development with a client meeting the client for the first time, hearing a story afresh.

I mean, after all these years in the business, I'm still hearing new facts and new stories, and I'm still putting my pen down in the middle of an interview and saying. But what? But how? But why? And I decided I would miss that real direct connection with a client if I was going to be I say merely, and I don't mean that disrespectfully to barristers, but merely somebody who was picking up a case and then presenting it in court.

I preferred the, the more sort of holistic and comprehensive approach to working with clients and developing a case generally. 

[00:50:27] Colin: Yeah, I mean, I think that's very important. Now, you also, I mean, from my experience, my firm did a little bit of matrimonial law, some of my partners do that. When the client came in and saying, Oh, I can't hear, can you act for me?

And then, the next minute they find out, Oh, my husband has gone to see Sharon Ser. And then everyone tries to conflict you out, or, they must, Sharon Ser is the person to go to. 

That reputation was incredible. Always, you were the sort of person to go to in all those early years. How did you cope?

Or did you have to get other lawyers to build up a good team around you 

[00:51:00] Sharon: You can't do anything without a good team, as I'm sure you know.

And actually, now particularly, I'm in my own firm. It's fabulous to have really talented young lawyers working with you and helping you. The reputation thing is quite interesting. And the reality is, in this business, if you lose even a centimetre of your top professional reputation, you're pretty much finished.

So, it's been very important to me, and I think anybody who aims to be at the top of their game, to ensure that their reputation is really solid, that you maintain integrity, and you can be trusted at all levels. But that doesn't mean you have to compromise on things that are important. And I think my very tough reputation has developed because I'm not somebody who is easily intimidated.

I don't get frightened by things. I'm not frightened to say no to people, whether it's to the other side or to my own client, and I'm really stronger reality testing. I would much rather a client. Settled, then do badly in court. So the reputation comes from being pretty rock solid. It's had an expense. I mean, there is a consequence to that because whilst clients, might think I'm wonderful, not always, but quite a lot of the time and quite a lot of my client base is professional, so I have a lot of other lawyers who do come to me when they're having difficulties in their own marriages, which is always a tribute in itself. But one of the consequences is that, you know by becoming a bit of a nudnik, in Yiddish that, is somebody who does irritate other people and doesn't quite let go.

You can lose that sort of very amicable easy relationship with other professionals in this field because, I don't always do the soft favor. I would much rather represent the client's best interest than anyone elses.

[00:53:09] Colin: Well, I've always been on the other side of you, and I've never had any issues in getting on with you when you were acting against me for your clients. Because we always recognize we're always doing our best for our clients well. 

[00:53:22] Sharon: Absolutely. 

[00:53:22] Colin: 23 years at Hampton Winter and Glyn, you then decide to move to a very large international firm with us.

And I was actually helping Withers out, to how to establish themselves in Hong Kong. They needed advice, all the technicalities. What made you go down that route?

[00:53:40] Sharon: I loved my 12 years at Withers. And what happened was Withers was looking to establish itself here in Hong Kong. And so we're approaching good established small firms where there could be a merger and ultimately absorption. So they approached Hampton, Winter and Glynn, and we were actively contemplating that merger. And we'd done all the mathematics, we'd met all the people, it looked like a very good fit. And then at the very last minute the partners, or the majority of the partners at Hampton, Winton and Glynn decided they wanted to stay small and independent.

And I found that very difficult to go back to. I had enjoyed being wooed by an international firm. I was very excited by the prospects it could bring, and I could see how it would help me develop my own practice. And therefore, when the other partners decided they didn't want to make the move, I just thought it would be too much of a step backwards for me not to embrace this new opportunity.

So I made the move to Withers and effectively established their family law of practice there. And it was very, very good. I got on their executive board, which meant every quarter I was going to one of their international offices to talk about the overall business of the firm, which was great, I went to see Milan, New York, I mean everywhere all over the world I was going. 

And also it did help develop my practice. I enjoyed the polish of working with an international firm. And I felt I gave it my best and I thought they were very helpful to me in enabling me to develop that practice. But after 12 years, so a good sort of cycle. I was ready to disengage for a variety of reasons.

But I'm glad to say we parted on very amicable terms. They would have been very happy to have me stay on, and I certainly thought about it. 

[00:55:45] Colin: Well, these big firms, when you hit a certain age, they make you, come what may, you have to retire from the equity?

[00:55:53] Sharon: From the equity, that's right.

[00:55:55] Colin: what they love you to do is remain on as a sort of consultant. But once you're outta the equity, I've known many of my friends who became consultants for the big firms, it's always slightly different. 

[00:56:05] Sharon: And that's exactly right and I didin't, I'd not been employed for a very, very many years and so I just didn't feel I could make the transition from being a self employed equity partner to an employed consultant. And although they were very kind to me and offered me very nice terms, I just prefer my ability to stretch my arms and be a bit more independent.

[00:56:34] Colin: So you tell us you set up with Rita. Tell us about that. 

[00:56:37] Sharon: Ok so Rita, and Rita is a real live wire, so I first employed Rita something like 25 years ago as an associate when I was at Hampton Winter and Glynn, and Rita is a good 20 years younger than me. And so we've been together for, nearly 25 years, one way or another.

And she just got better and better at Hampton, Winter and Glyn. And when I moved to Withers. Rita moved with me, together with a large number of the team at Hampton, Winter and Glyn. And very quickly after joining Withers, she was made a partner there. And in many ways was my natural successor. I mean, together all these years, very similar style of working.

 Rita is trilingual, so we've, we've got different areas of work. She picks up a great deal of mainland Chinese work and trust work. But I was absolutely amazed when she came up to me, as I was making my decision about leaving Withers to tell me that her ambition was to start up her own firm. And I really asked her to think about that because she had a great future ahead of her at Withers.

But she wanted to do her own thing and said that she'd love it if I joined her in that endeavour. And then after that it was, it was absolutely...

[00:57:57] Colin: you have a nice small boutique law firm. You're not that big. you're growing, but you're, you're medium. How many lawyers have you got?

[00:58:05] Sharon: We're 10 Lawyers 

[00:58:08] Colin: You're becoming bigger and bigger now.

[00:58:09] Sharon: Uh, already we're 26 people in the office. So two of partners, couple of consultants, associates, paralegals, and a good team. And we're doing family law, we're doing a lot of probate work, contested probate. We're working for many high net worth Chinese family offices who are doing a great deal of restructuring, so they need advice as to the third generation taking over with pre nups and post nups and trust work generally.

[00:58:41] Colin: And you're enjoying it?

[00:58:43] Sharon: Actually, more than I ever would've thought. And as much as I enjoyed my time in an international firm, there's nothing like having a small group of people that you know very well. It's a very collaborative working atmosphere and, we don't have an obvious hierarchy, so that's very different from a big international firm.

And anybody can talk about anything, and we've got a big eating area where people just sort of sit down and, and have a coffee and have a chat, and the working area we've made so that people don't have to sit at the same desk all the time, so they can move to a different desk and plug in their laptops, 

[00:59:25] Colin: And you have a gym, I understand. 

[00:59:27] Sharon: The gym was essential. I was not going to start up a new firm without a gym, and that's something that's used by everybody at whatever time that suits them. And I think that's absolutely essential in a modern day working environment. People have got to be able to do some workouts. 

[00:59:44] Colin: Now, some people think being a divorce lawyer is very, very stressful. You're constantly dealing with problems. You're called and phoned up all night, all day. How do you de stress? How do you have the ability to deal with all of that? What's your secret?

[00:59:59] Sharon: Yeah well look, Whisky and Soda has it's definite medicinal purposes. I'm able to switch off and I think you can't do this job properly unless you can switch off. And even though clients these days are communicating almost all the time by way of WhatsApp and want pretty instant communication, I'm able to create boundaries because I think If you're not able to do that, you very quickly become plunged into the misery of somebody else's life dilemmas.

And I think it's very important to be able to maintain a healthy outlook and to stay focused on a number of things, and not just get drawn into a client's maelstrom of litigation.

[01:00:51] Colin: And reviewing your time here in Hong Kong. There's been many, many big, big changes. What about in family law? Do you think things have changed? Are you ever told a good or difficulties with judges. 

[01:01:06] Sharon: Yeah, listen, they've changed, but not always for the best. And we're still in a process of transition. It was nearly 20 years ago that the Hong Kong Law Commission produced a report talking about the changes needed in family law. And that still hasn't happened. We have a bigger family court, a recognized family court, with now a number of judges and masters.

But, they're still feeling their way, it feels as though we don't yet have the real energy and consistent approach with family law. People are committed and passionate about this area of law, but there's still a lot that we have to get right, and particularly in the field of children's rights.

I've always been a believer that there should be nothing without prejudice as far as it relates to children, and I pushed for that very hard when I was on government committees working with the judiciary and, and that went through, but I think we've come a long way in recognizing that the family court has very special needs that need to be acknowledged, but we're not there yet.

But look, I don't mind. I'm a campaigner and it's one of the things I'll continue to campaign about. 

[01:02:28] Colin: One of my ex-partner, Usha Casewell, who's very much involved in family law. She's retired, although she's now back in Hong Kong for a bit because her husband's really been appointed as a Deputy District Court Judge. She always said the same to me, the same sentiments you have. They try very hard to push and deal with that.

Now there's a big elephant in the room, and that big elephant is that the things that are happening in Hong Kong, the changes, the so called troubles as well. Hong Kong is your home, you're here forever? 

[01:02:56] Sharon: All being well, I do think Hong Kong has changed, and as a non Chinese speaker, I'm very very aware of that. I think there is still a positive energy, but a wary energy. And I think, again, as a campaigner as I am, I'm willing to do for my part to make Hong Kong a better place for every element of community, as diverse as we can and one of the things I do more and more, and one of the reasons why I was happy to go into a smaller firm, is that I can spend more time on causes that are important to me, such as needs of special education, needs of children and young adults, the disabled, the elderly, these are all areas where I think Hong Kong needs to work hard on a society level and I feel as a very long term Hong Kong resident and somebody who, all being well, will be here for some time, I can play my part in this kind of campaigning in order to try and make Hong Kong an even better place for all of us.

I'm also of a generation where I'm mobile, all being well, and so I do have a home overseas in Spain, so I can see myself sort of traveling more, should I ever retire, 

[01:04:18] Colin: Some of my young lawyers that come up to me, they ask me in an interview. What's my retirement strategy? And I look at them and I think, well, I'm going to sort of slow down and I'm, with succession, I want my young lawyers to take over. I don't particularly want to spend all my time putting out the fires all the time, but I'm slowly hoping that they will take over.

And, and yourself?

[01:04:40] Sharon: Yes, I absolutely hear you. And again, I think, Colin, we're an extraordinary generation that we're in complete denial about our age. And, thank God, we are fit. We make sure we stay fit and do exercise. So we feel younger than we are and I don't think either of us feel any particular need to give up work simply because the years are clocking on.

We can't do anything about that, it's better than the alternative. And I'm happy to carry on working whilst I'm still passionate about my work, still enjoy it whilst it still engages me and whilst I can do something, but. I'll be in tune with what's going on around me, but I've no exit strategy in mind.

I'll sort of play it all by ear.

[01:05:30] Colin: Sharon, it's been a great pleasure chatting with you and thank you so much for joining us on Law & More. 

[01:05:36] Sharon: My pleasure, thank you very much.