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Firm Culture

60 Seconds with… Linh Doan27 November 2019

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Linh Doan is head of our Hanoi office. Widely recognised as a leading adviser to the Asian power markets, Linh has an impressive track record of advising on “first-of-their-kind” cross-border power projects and an unrivalled reputation for excellence, notably in Vietnam, counting key government ministries and state utilities among her clients. She is highly recommended by Chambers Asia Pacific, Chambers Global and Legal 500 Asia Pacific and described by one client as “pragmatic, precise and spot on in all advice provided to us, she is very much up-to-date on country-specific laws and regulations”.

Q: Tell us about your career to date. Did you always want to be a lawyer?
A: I have been practising law at international law firms since the mid-90s. Legal practice has changed over the last decades with increasing competition, alternative fee arrangements and changing technology and it is always fascinating (and vital) to adapt to these changes. I became interested in law while translating legal documents and decided to go to law school while continuing to work as a paralegal.

Q: How have things changed since the Hanoi office joined the WFW network? How has will this benefit our clients in the region?
A: Certainly quite a few changes for both the team and me. The team is adjusting to how things work in a larger law firm and I must focus on ensuring a smooth integration whilst also deploying the expansion plan.

The integration has really benefited our clients as they are now able to take advantage of our increased reach and expertise, especially in New York, London, Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong.

Q: You divide your time between Hanoi and Hong Kong – what challenges does this pose and how do you juggle fee-earning work and management responsibilities?
A: While the fee-earning work and the travel between Vietnam, Hong Kong and other countries is the same as before, the management responsibilities have increased. Luckily, I really enjoy travelling and never get tired of it (I can always sleep on the plane if I do not have to work).

Q: What are three things we should know about the Hanoi team?
A: They have a close bond. The working style is cooperative and harmonious. While work may be demanding, their enthusiasm never diminishes.

Q: What challenges do you clients face in their sectors and how does the team respond?
A: The biggest challenge is that the market keeps evolving which means continual adjustments. This is especially true for energy projects which are a rather long-term investment. The volatile nature of the law and market practice means the team always stays alert of any market so that we can anticipate and respond to our clients’ specific concerns.

Q: What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership? What advice would you give to women building their careers?
A: Gender stereotypes are still deeply rooted in parts of the world, including in Asia, and women can be discouraged from taking the lead or even participating in the workplace. My advice is that women should follow their heart even though this may lead them to a path less travelled. Only by doing so will they turn into the kind of people they truly want to become.

Q: Three of our five Asia offices are led by women – is this significant?
A: Certainly, and we should be proud of this diversity which demonstrates equality and the empowerment of women in the workplace. While Asia may lag behind Europe and America in realising gender equality universally, this is not the case at WFW!

Q: How would you describe the culture of Watson Farley and Williams?
A: It is dynamic and flexible and there is a great work culture.

Q: Do you see value in an alumni programme; why do you think it is important to maintain connections with past colleagues?
A: I do see the value of alumni programme; it is useful to refer associates who wish to work in-house at a client as it strengthens the relationship and benefits both organisations. And, of course, we can refer work to each other, which is also a win win for both parties.

Q: What do you like to do when you are not working?
A: My greatest pleasure outside of work is travel/holidaying with my family.

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