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Meet the Team: Legal

Recognized by the Financial Times as one of the most innovative legal teams in the Asia Pacific and by Legal 500 and Asian Legal Business as one of the best in-house legal teams in Hong Kong and Singapore, respectively, our Legal team is instrumental in helping us grow responsibly. What does their work look like in a fast-paced environment? Is it different from working in a law firm? And what does innovation mean in the legal context? We caught up with Ryan, Catherine and Derek to find out!


Ryan Chung
Associate General Counsel, SEA


Can you tell us about your role? What does your typical day/week look like?

Our team is organized to provide both geographical coverage and functional coverage. For me, I primarily look at all the legal and regulatory matters in Southeast Asia. There is hardly a typical day as every day presents new projects or issues that we need to look into. 

I would say contract reviews are the bread and butter of any legal function. In addition, we also provide legal and regulatory advice on projects, such as the recently launched Klook Live! which was a new venture into livestreaming for us. There’s also ad hoc support for any issues or concerns that come up within our areas of coverage. 


What’s the difference between working in-house and for a law firm? 

In my opinion, in-house is a whole lot more exciting than being at a law firm. In a law firm, clients come to you with specific legal questions and you dispense mostly legal advice. For in-house, it hardly ends there. You don’t just say “yes, the law says we can do this” or “no, the law prohibits that”. Especially if you say we can’t do something, you have to go further. You brainstorm a different solution with the business team or you tweak things to minimize the risks. There’s a lot more nuanced work in-house and you get to be more on the commercial side of things so you have to understand business considerations a lot better. 

I always tell people that it’s not just an in-house or law firm dichotomy. In fact, in-house in an established company and in-house in a startup environment are quite different from each other. A place like Klook is a lot more dynamic. From ideation to launch, it can be just weeks so you have to be a lot more flexible and creative to come up with new ideas very very quickly. In a more traditional setting, lawyers may perhaps play more of a gatekeeper role whereas, in a dynamic environment like ours, you work alongside the commercial teams and would have to adopt a more entrepreneurial mindset as you’re a lot more involved in the process. 


What is it like working in the legal team in an agile company? 

Besides the fast pace, one of the most exciting aspects for me is that there are no set precedents for some of the matters that we deal with. Especially in Southeast Asia where the rules and regulations are diverse and often lag behind the rapid developments in the commercial and technology spheres. This allows us an opportunity to critically approach issues and adopt creative solutions. For example, we may have to take existing regulations and extrapolate it to what we do or benchmark certain practices against other more mature markets. At the same time, we also have to constantly look out for updates and new developments.


What is our Legal team like?

Legal is traditionally seen as more of an individual contributor type of role. However, at Klook, collaboration is very important and that extends to our team. Everyone is extremely supportive and we help each other upskill in different areas. 

The Legal team is still relatively small and we keep in touch with one another via our weekly team meetings. We also make the effort to retain that personal touch with one other which can be rare in bigger companies. For example, we still send team members real birthday cards! We mail a birthday card from office to office until everyone in the team signs it and then we send it off to the person celebrating his or her birthday. 


What excites you most about your future with Klook?

I’m excited about the potential of Klook. Obviously, the pandemic has set us back a little but seeing how we have rapidly pivoted and moved into new spaces is very exciting and promising. I think there’s a lot of potential for growth for the company and that also means a lot more to learn and try for me. 


Catherine Loughran
Associate General Counsel


How did you get into law?

I actually did an undergraduate degree in American Studies and a Master’s in literature first. I think it was good preparation for the law conversion I did later on. In anything that you study, you have to use your brain analytically so there are many transferable skills. A Humanities background gives you a lot of breadth and enables you to see things from slightly different perspectives. 


Can you tell us about your role? What does your typical day/week look like?

I look after Europe and the United States from the geographical perspective and also areas such as Marketing from the functional side. It’s difficult to say what your typical day would look like. You can have a plan for your day and it can massively change depending on what happens, for example, there might be a dispute somewhere or a data issue. There is always something going on, you don’t have time to get bored in this kind of environment. 

There is a lot more structure in our team than I expected from a startup. I was pleasantly surprised because it does make a difference to have a good structure. 

What is our Legal team like?

We’re all very collaborative. Even if it’s like “Oh, has anybody got a version of this that we can tweak” or “Has anybody dealt with this before”, we share knowledge across the team in an efficient way. My teammates are always pleased to help. 

Something that I find important is that my manager always makes time for our 1:1 meetings. That was new to me, typically you might have a 1:1 scheduled but 9 times out of 10 they will cancel it as there are always competing priorities. My manager always makes the time and that’s hugely admirable. It makes you confident that someone has got your back all the time and is looking out for you, making sure you’re ok. 

Also, the bigger structures at Klook, like the People & Cultures initiatives and career progression training, are there to make sure you make the most out of your journey at Klook. That in combination with a supportive manager makes it a really good place to be.


What excites you most about your future with Klook?

The fact that there is always something new to get stuck into.  You have to be innovative to work in this environment and it is also constantly in flux so it’s never going to get boring. Also, working in a travel company in COVID-19 times means that you have to be extra adaptable as a company and individual. I enjoy the fact that I don’t know what’s gonna go on from one day to the next. I know that would make some people very nervous but I don’t feel like that.


Derek Chau
Director, Legal Operations

What was your background before joining Klook? 

I have a background in Engineering and Project Management (specialized in process optimization and change management), for example, projects like implementing operational processes and systems (eg. ERP, CRM, BI) which drive digital transformation in multinational corporations. My previous experience made me very adaptive to changes in both processes and technologies which was perfect preparation for my current role.


Can you tell us about your role? What is Legal Operations? 

Legal Operations improves the efficiency of legal day to day matters by introducing process and system enhancements that address various legal topics, such as contract management, project management and matter management, and it's becoming more and more popular in both law firms and in-house legal teams.

Our team believes in providing the best possible user experience to our stakeholders — legal technology is one way we put that into practice. We also firmly believe that routine work can and should be automated to the greatest extent possible. We look out for technology solutions, not just those that have been specifically branded as “legal technology”, that help us with our mission. Our adoption of legal technology is usually demand-driven, in response to a business need or to boost efficiency within the team. Implementing a new software platform cannot be a discrete “project” that falls to the wayside after a few months. Instead, it is an opportunity for long-term business transformation and alignment with our business stakeholders. 

To give you an example, traditionally, legal is document-heavy work, with a lot of documents and contracts to be processed and stored. But with the technology that’s now available, there is a big potential for utilizing digital platforms to give a legal day to day operations a big boost in efficiency both in terms of time and cost. This is where new solutions like a digital contracting system (a combination of digital signatures, contract ticketing and approval) come into play.


What project are you most proud of? 

In November 2019, the Legal team launched the first phase of the Legal Help Center (a bespoke contract management system that combines ticketing, contract review and approval, digital signing and document storage). That was one of the most challenging but also rewarding projects that I’ve worked on. Challenging because I was new (just 3 months in) to the company and I had to understand the work of the Legal team, engage a lot of the stakeholders and also work with a third-party vendor to develop the customized contract management system. Rewarding because in the first few months from launch, we saw a significant uptake in the use of the Legal Help Center by Klookers. We were one of the first few legal in-house teams to launch a dedicated help center for contract management based on legal tech.

We really focus on enhancing the user experience with anything we do in Legal Ops. We always think: what is the best way for us to develop the tool? Of course, we have the legal aspect in mind but we also try to be as forward-thinking as possible in making the process easy to understand and follow for Klookers from other teams. We take feedback and evaluate all improvement potentials to create a more efficient system and supportive experience. 

What should someone consider before pursuing a career in Legal Ops? 

First and foremost, you need to be open to new technologies and embrace changes. The systems that you develop will need to evolve as the business grows/changes or new solutions pop up. Adapting to changes is an essential part of the job.

Embracing change also involves training and education, not just within the Legal team but also other teams and external partners. People might have inhibitions before letting go of the traditional way of doing things, for example, they may be skeptical of digital signatures/contracting. It’s important to be patient and supportive throughout the transition and have trust in the new technologies. This is why we test and critically evaluate all potential technology solutions on a wide range of factors, including ease of use, business value, and cybersecurity, instead of rushing to adopt the shiniest new tools on the market. We also commit to our choice, scheduling internal training sessions, working full-speed towards successful user acceptance and implementation and conducting regular reviews.


What is it like working in our Legal team? 

For me, a very important thing about the team is that not only the General Counsel, but in fact all the Legal team members really believe in the importance of Legal Operations and put a lot of trust and confidence in my work. I’m happy that I’m in a forward-thinking team because it allows us to evolve and grow. 


Ready to join the team?

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