Daniel Lo graduated from the LLB for Graduates programme in 2009 and now works for international Swiss bank UBS. We asked him about his time at Birmingham and his career to date.
"I have often let the pursuit of the road less taken dictate my career choices, possibly because of my natural inclination to try new things, but also perhaps the challenge of it all excites me. I am currently in Singapore and am an associate director and legal counsel at UBS Asset Management. I am called to the bar in the provinces of Alberta and Ontario in Canada, England and Wales, and the British Virgin Islands. Prior to UBS, I practiced in Singapore as an associate in the investment funds and corporate group at Walkers, an international offshore law firm. I had also spent time as an in-house counsel for a private equity firm in Hong Kong, and had completed my articling training (similar to a training contract) and practiced in Canada as an associate in the energy transactions group at Dentons, an international law firm.
"Since my time after law school, I have jumped back to Canada, transitioned to Asia through a stint in Hong Kong and finally settled in Singapore. All of this was not easy, and was a by-product of a lot of additional education by way of a Canadian LLM degree, a ton of bar exams, and the willingness to adapt to new and uncomfortable environments. A lot of the time, I had to rely on blind determination in hopes of getting through each stage of my career, from undergoing conversion exams to convert my English law degree back to Canada; competing for very limited Canadian articling positions; transitioning to an in-house position in Hong Kong as a junior lawyer; and finally having to learn the laws of the Cayman Islands and the BVI as I make my way into an offshore private practice in Singapore. Has it been hard? Definitely. Although am I having fun? Without a doubt.
"I remember a conversation I had with my father when I was deciding on which law school to choose. He asked me if I had envisaged an international career after law school. I told him that I did not see many Canadian lawyers doing this so it was not something that I had considered. He then pulled up a newspaper and pointed to an article and said “did you know that the Chief Judge of the High Court in Hong Kong is from the University of Birmingham?”. I immediately scoured the newspaper and found out that indeed that was the case. As I searched further, I realised that the University of Birmingham has had a rich history and was the starting point for many notable international alumni that had gone on to do great things. The university’s reputation and legacy are the reasons that I eventually chose the University of Birmingham, and am now proud to call it my alma mater.
"The welcoming campus and diverse mix of international students inspired me during my time at the University. I never once felt out of place, and was encouraged to take part in clubs and sports right away. Sitting in the beautiful Great Hall for the first time in an exam was also inspiring as I imagined the many other law students before me, and now doing great things with their careers.
"My favourite memory of my time at University is late night studying in the learning centre and at the former Harding law library, then dropping by Rooster House in Selly Oak for chicken and chips, before going back home to continue studying. The studying part was not the takeaway, but rather it was the friendships that I made with my fellow law school mates, especially during exam season when we would basically live in the library together.
"My tips for Canadian students settling into Birmingham/the UK are to know exactly what you are getting into in terms of the grades you need and the accreditation process if you decide to go back to Canada. You are wagering a big bet on making it in this career, especially as an international student, so do your research and make sure there are no surprises when you get in. Also have an open mind and actively try to immerse yourself in different cultures by befriending people outside of your immediate Canadian circle and travel often. The value of doing this degree in the UK is the international cultural exposure. Take advantage and start building your international network, you never know how you will connect with these friends later on in your career."