Hong Kong Lawyer | Playing For A Cause

Hong Kong Lawyer | Playing For A Cause

Hong Kong Lawyer | Playing For A Cause 800 502 Hugill & Ip
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Formed in December 2021, the Legal Services Hockey Team (“the Team”), comprises of solicitors, barristers, and various legal professionals. The Team was created by Azan Marwah, Counsel at Resolution Chambers and Jerome McDonagh of MDD Forensic Accountants with the aim to bring the legal community together, and to ideally raise money for and awareness of children’s rights. We meet six members of the team – Ophelia Yap, Counsel at Bernacchi Chambers, Jocelyn Tsao, Partner at Withersworldwide, Azan Marwah, Pauline Fong, Assistant Solicitor at Payne Clermont Velasco, Warren Suen, Counsel at Pacific Chambers and Saajandeep Singh, Trainee Solicitor at Ravenscroft & Schmierer who share their experience playing in the Team and its future plans.

The idea for a ‘lawyers’ hockey team came out of a charitable match organised by Marwah and McDonagh in 2021. “The normal hockey league had been disrupted by the Pandemic and there was a lot of social disconnection. We wanted to get people together to do something positive, so we organised a match for ‘legal services’ (with the help of the Bar Council) against the Correctional Services Department team to raise money for children’s charities,” shares Marwah. “Jerome and I both play competitive hockey, so we reached out to our own sporting and legal networks, inviting anyone who wanted to play – no matter their abilities. We quickly found allies. The match was tremendous fun and a huge success. Most importantly, with the concerted support and generous donations from Chow Ruskin Brown, Hugill & Ip, Withers, Resolution Chambers, MDD Forensic Accountants and others, the sum of HK$60,000 was raised for the Hong Kong Committee on Children’s Rights. There was such a great atmosphere that someone from the team suggested that we try to form a summer team,” he adds.

This summer, the Team gathered again and participated in the Summer Mixed (Men and Women) League organised by the Hong Kong Hockey Association. The Team was off to a great start and went on an unbeaten run for four weeks. “In brief, the summer league is a mixed gender, social league that allows players from different clubs and divisions to play together. The objective is to have fun and bring the hockey community together. I really enjoy it, because it allows me to meet people from completely different backgrounds, abilities, and clubs,” explains Marwah. “The mixed league gives you an opportunity to play with and against players you don’t normally get to do so during the regular season. It is a very enjoyable experience to be playing with a team of gifted players,” shares Yap.

Despite being a mixed gender team, Fong notes that “there is no distinction between men and women in a mixed league and people just play in their usual position. It is very friendly and inclusive of all levels of players. While everyone wants to win, the more important goal is to have fun and good teamwork.” For Tsao, being a part of this team has allowed her to meet lawyers she usually would not cross paths with – “You see how sports can really bring people together. Not all of us knew each other when we joined the team – we come from different firms and practices, and yet, we all share commonality in our interest in hockey and our pride in being lawyers and part of the “Justice League.” We mixed very well together from the get-go. There was no pressure, no single person trying to be the star player. Everyone just wanted to have fun – and make sure everyone else has a chance to play and have fun too,” she shares. For Singh, participating in the league has given him the opportunity to make up for the lack of networking caused by the pandemic – “Due to the pandemic I have missed out on the opportunity to participate in numerous in-person RME/CPD courses or general networking events. By participating in this team, I have met many lawyers who I would not have met. The conversations we have about work and life in general are unexpectedly enlightening,” he shares.

For most of the players, they first played hockey at either high school or university and quickly fell in love with the sport. For Suen, the “combination of personal skill, work rate, teamwork and strategy” makes the activity enjoyable for him whilst for Singh, it is “a physically and mentally challenging sport. I like to think of it as a high paced chess game where your team is collectively trying to outwit the opposing team. The tactical side of the game appeals to me and the post-match social scene has always been a pleasant experience.” The sport has also provided the players with several useful transferrable skills that they can apply into their legal work. “Hockey requires the players to react quickly, preempt different options so you can make the best move within a second. This is quite similar to advocacy in court. Hockey is also a very competitive sport that requires the players to be aggressive, strategic and have good teamwork in order to goal. I think the same attitude and soft skills can be applied to my legal work, especially in litigation which demands a lot of strategic thinking,” shares Fong. “Hockey demands teamwork and communication. You need to be able to work quickly but also demands that you look up and see the big picture. It weeds out players who are selfish or have tunnel vision. The same principles apply generally in litigation,” adds Marwah. Tsao too, finds similarities between playing hockey and litigation – “Hockey can be quite an aggressive sport, but not with brute physical force like rugby requires. To play well as a team in hockey, you need to be strategic and willing to go the extra mile (run the extra step) to fight for the ball. It is very much like litigation. You don’t have to be a rottweiler to win in court. It is more about strategy and whether one is willing to push and fight for their client.”

Despite the demands of playing for the team, the members have had no problem balancing time between work and play. “Most matches are, mercifully, during weekends and evenings. It can be difficult to juggle, but the discipline of being on a team helps to make sure I balance my time and get enough exercise despite the demands of work,” shares Marwah. In fact, for Suen, he looks forward to the games after a busy week at work – “Playing hockey is one of my ways to wind down from a busy week of work. Regular exercise improves work efficiency. One can always find time for more exercise.” Fong agrees with this and believes that “a moderate amount of exercise is essential for maintaining physical and mental health. Regular physical exercise actually helps boost productivity.”

Besides playing in the Summer Mixed League, the Team is also gearing up for a match against the Hong Kong Football Club at their ground in Happy Valley in September this year. “Our goal is to raise HK$200,000 for the Hong Kong Committee on Children’s Rights. We lawyers have a special duty to protect children and promote awareness of their rights. We hope that the match will be an opportunity for our community to come together, promote awareness and raise funds to make a difference. We will also be playing against the Correctional Services Department in December,” shares Marwah. The members are confident that the team will continue to grow, and they hope to make the summer league and charity matches a regular fixture of the legal community. New joiners are welcomed, and the team even offers training for beginners. “Come along and watch a game. The hockey community in Hong Kong is very open and friendly. There are many clubs open to all levels in Hong Kong. Just give it a try! Perhaps, have a chat with a coach before you buy your equipment,” shares Marwah. Singh advises to “make sure you actually enjoy running,” as it is a large part of the sport. And, as Suen puts it – “[The sport] is easier than it seems!”


The article was originally published on Hong Kong Lawyer

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