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Interview with Natalie Lee, Counsel in Hong Kong

19 Feb 2024

We recently had a chat with Natalie Lee, our newly promoted Counsel, during which she talked about her career in law, her journey with Harneys and more.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and what and/or who has inspired you to pursue a career in law?

I am from Sydney, Australia and took the traditional path of studying a combined Arts/Law degree which has led me to my life as a lawyer. To be frank, as an 18-year-old straight out of high school, I did not know what career I wanted to pursue so it was a matter of what my strengths were at school. I found myself quite enjoying English, literature and debating so law was a natural choice for me.

Could you share a bit about what you do and your practice areas?

I have been with the Disputes and Insolvency team at Harneys for over 8 years. I consider myself lucky and am grateful for the wide exposure which has been offered to me with my work – my main body of work at the moment is valuation disputes but I have been involved in shareholder/director disputes, listed company disputes, contentious insolvency matters, funds disputes, trusts disputes, probate, restoration, capital reorganisation. This list goes on so basically anything contentious. I’ve also dabbled in a bit of corporate work with some of my existing clients from disputes.

You have been with Harneys for over 8 years now. How has your experience been so far? What was the most memorable for you?

It’s been an enjoyable and rewarding ride working with peers of such high calibre here – many of them turned friends. There’s a reason it has been 8 years and counting! My most memorable experience would have to be attending a trial in the Cayman Islands and a 3-month secondment in the BVI. As a litigator, attending a trial is an eye-opening and exhilarating experience because you get involved with all aspects of the case and see the product of years of hard work and preparation. It is intense for the duration of the trial but a huge achievement once complete. Outside of the court room, swimming with stingrays at a sand bar in the Cayman Islands and jumping off the infamous bar “Willy-T” after a few Painkiller cocktails are my top memories.

How is it different to be a Counsel as compared with being a Senior Associate?

It’s only been a little over a month since I have been Counsel so I am still growing into the role. I hope to take on more initiatives to build our team and work more closely with our team of Partners.

If you had not pursued a career in law, what do you think you would be doing?

I think I would be a teacher. Fun fact: I actually took a one-year sabbatical in Hong Kong before Harneys to teach English at a local high school through a charity. I love educating others and working with kids. I am grateful for all the teachers who inspired me throughout school and university and hope to pass on that same motivation and knowledge to others.

Who do you admire most and why?

Can I pick two? My mum and dad. They immigrated to Sydney from China and Hong Kong with no English skills and little money. They worked very hard to provide my siblings and me with the best future they could and they succeeded.

What is your favourite movie and why?

I love any Disney movie as I grew up watching them but in Cantonese so it’s always a bit odd now watching them now in English.

What’s on the top of your bucket list?

Northern lights – apparently they’re the best and brightest this year.

If you could live the life of someone for a day, who would that person be?

I think my sister’s Pomeranian dog, Butters, has a pretty sweet life. I wouldn’t mind a day in the life of Butters.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

It’s a saying I’ve only really heard in Cantonese but translated it would go something like: Enjoy the journey, don’t ask about the destination.

What is the one skill that you would like to master?

Cooking. I’m a terrible cook but I love to eat.

What is your worst nightmare?

Anything which involves insects or creepy-crawlies. I know I’m Australian but it doesn’t mean I’m not afraid of them!