#10QuestionswithMaxwell Interview Series: Hazel Tang
Our next interviewee is an accredited mediator in Singapore and Shanghai, as well as an arbitrator with leading arbitration institutions. She is none other than Hazel Tang, a Counsel at International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
Hazel’s experience in practice spans across the areas of litigation, arbitration, adjudication, negotiation and mediation, with focus in the construction and infrastructure industry.
Hazel also regularly conducts seminars, conferences and in-house trainings for multinational companies, and statutory bodies on risk prevention and mitigation.
In this interview, we find out more about what inspired her to join the legal profession, her daily routine in the job as a counsel at ICC, what she likes to do during her past time and more!
Read her full interview below:
Q: What inspired you to join the legal profession?
A: I actually wanted to be a journalist or a writer! I liked telling a story. Then I realize that is what a disputes resolution lawyer does too – telling your client’s story – and one can actually make a living out of it as well!
Q: With your experience in mediation, international arbitration and civil litigation, which type of cases do you think is the most challenging?
A: A case when parties and/or their counsels get personal. I think even the most complex case can be resolved in an amicable manner, whether in mediation, international arbitration or civil litigation. There is no need for antagonistic letters to be exchanged – it is ineffective and unnecessary. I think there is much to be said for maintaining professional courtesy even in the most complex cases.
Q: What would you say is your mediation/arbitration style?
A: The mediator’s role and the arbitrator’s role are very different, and therefore require very different toolkits. In mediation, I see myself adopting a more hybrid style, doing whatever is most effective to help parties bridge their differences, without limiting myself to a strictly facilitative or a strictly evaluative style. In the limited arbitrator experiences I’ve had, I would like to think of myself as firm and reasonable, in moving parties steadily through the steps necessary to get to a resolution.
Q: What do you see are the new developments in the new ADR space?
A: In the past year, I would say it is the greater embrace of technology. Taking virtual hearings or mediations for example – online dispute resolution itself is not a new development. However, prior to the pandemic, people were still apprehensive about how effective it would be and how it compares to the traditional way of in-person hearing/mediation. Now, when forced to pivot and adapt with the restrictions imposed on us, I think we have all found ways to make online dispute resolution work for us and let go of our earlier hesitations.
Q: Any advice to aspiring individual who wants to go into the legal profession?
A: Are you sure? Jokes aside – I would say you should really think carefully about why you want to go into the legal profession. It is certainly a demanding career option, although it can also be very satisfying and rewarding. At the end of the day, the ones who enjoy long careers in the profession are usually those who truly enjoy the work that they do. So, find something that you enjoy about the work that you do, and hold on to it.
Q: Growing up, do you have an idol/mentor you look up too? Has that changed since you joined the legal profession?
A: Honestly, not really. I try to look internally for what I need to resolve whatever it is before me.
Q: How would you describe your daily routine in the job as counsel at ICC?
A: Like a bee! In order to manage the submissions – we have to file for the weekly ICC Court sessions, and to ensure that the day-to-day case management runs like clockwork, the team has different internal deadlines and tasks every day. But the busy-bee schedule aside, there is also a fair amount of people interaction that I enjoy – be it speaking to lawyers, in-house counsels, arbitrators, aspiring students and even the general public.
Q: What motivates you to work hard?
A: To feed my cat. Jokes aside, it is important to me to know that the cases that we handle are real life problems faced by the parties in their lives or at their work, and what we do has a real impact on them.
Q: What do you like to do during your past time? Did you pick up any new hobbies over the past year?
A: Well, before the past year, I picked up snowboarding, and regularly take time off to go diving to “breathe” underwater. In the past year, I’ve become even more ambitious and taken up gardening, much to the horror of many a cacti, basil plants and tomato plants. But I am getting better at it… I think.
Q: What do you like about the facilities in Maxwell Chambers? Or how about your favorite corner at Maxwell Chambers or Maxwell Chambers Suites?
A: It is like a dormitory for dispute resolution professionals – where delivering a document to an arbitrator sometimes means just going upstairs and knocking on the door. The friendly comradery we have between the tenants who are mostly in the same field is something that I miss now that we are mostly working from home. My favorite corner has to be our office pantry in Maxwell Chambers Suites – our team used to gather there regularly for our team meetings or birthday celebrations over food and drinks (mostly coffee), and sometimes we have visitors or Court members join us too. I look forward to the day where we can all gather like that again.
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