Q&A with Jeff Lane – Litigation and Fraud Partner


Jeff Lane joined Tanner De Witt as a commercial litigation Partner in 2013. He has been a practising lawyer in Hong Kong for over 25 years. Today we had a chance to chat with Jeff to find out why he chose to become a lawyer, what he finds most satisfying and one piece of advice he would pass onto young adults who are considering a career in law.

Jeff Lane, Partner

Why did you choose to become a lawyer?

My path to the law was essentially one of default.  From an early age it was clear to those with responsibility for educating me that I was fond of the sound of my own voice, so careers in law, politics or perhaps the stage were mooted as possibilities.  On closer analysis, however, acting was rejected, as prospects in Wales were limited to ‘Pobl-Y-Cwm’, and some rather poor quality local TV stations.  Politics was dismissed as it would have involved me having to first identify and then remain constant to my political ideals.  Law was therefore my default option.  Any doubts I may have had were resolved by watching every episode of ‘The Paper Chase’.

Describe a typical day at work.

A typical day combines discussions with workmates, meetings and correspondence with clients, appearances at Court, and tea.  Much of my practice concerns fraud and asset tracing, so applications for injunctions and disclosure orders are common place.  I therefore spend quite a lot of time at Court, or preparing documents to go to Court.

Lunch is typically consumed at my desk, at the gym or with clients, and the balance of my day is spent drinking more tea and monitoring my matters.  With the help of assistant solicitors existing cases are advanced, appointments anticipated in the calendar for the coming days and thereby our staff are properly prepared to meet the demands of the week ahead.

What part of being a lawyer do you personally find most satisfying?  Most challenging?

My practice requires me to appear quite regularly at Court on ex parte and inter partes applications.  To obtain an injunction and successfully hold it against applications to set aside requires thorough preparation and clear argument.  I take a lot of pleasure from a good win at Court.

In terms of professional challenges, frequently applications for injunctions have to be made on an extremely urgent basis, and it can be logistically challenging to process new instructions into ex parte applications with appropriate expedition.  Generally, we enjoy a healthy return on Court appointments, with some injunctions being granted on the same day as instructions are received.

Being a lawyer can be stressful at times, how do you maintain good work / life balance?

I rely upon my family and the hills of Hong Kong as my primary stress relief.  I do my best to keep work issues separate from home life so that my time with my family can be spent relatively stress free. I enjoy trail running and in Hong Kong we are blessed with hundreds of kilometres of green mountain trails in which I try to immerse myself for a few hours at weekends.

To manage work/life balance, when it gets busy I find that the ability to delegate and to manage junior lawyers is key, made possible by having confidence in the strong team of solicitors and excellent support staff that we have within the firm.

Give one piece of advice to young adults who are considering the lawyer profession.

Law is a rewarding and intellectually stimulating career but you won’t succeed without working very hard so travel when you can and before signing the Solicitor’s Roll take non-law related employment.  Learn something about the everyday jobs and lives of the people you will help in your career.

If you had not become a lawyer, what professions would you have considered?

Architecture or academia.  The idea of creating something which survives as a monument to your own artistic abilities is a bit narcissistic but being able to contribute to and possibly improve the shape of your own domestic landscape is very appealing.

As to academia, before starting my articles I had applied to the European Court in Strasburg for a research scholarship.  It was granted a few weeks after I had started my training contract, so I narrowly missed out on life in an ivory tower.

Give one piece of advice to your younger self.

Hang up your rugby boots before you turn 30!

You may find out more about Jeff here.