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XXIV - 2016

by SCMP

XXIV 24

How Hong Kong Bar Association boss Winnie Tam balances public duties and her work as a barrister

Lawyer has a tough schedule and seldom finds a few minutes she can call her own

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 9:16am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 December, 2016, 2:53pm

Since being appointed president of the Hong Kong Bar Association in early 2015, Winnie Tam believes that “there is so much more to do because of the position that I have assumed. I have to use up all my free time practically to try and keep things afloat in order to manage the many varied aspects of bar work. So, in that sense, that has changed my life quite a bit and I’m longing to get back to normal very soon.”

The meaning of “normal”, however, has gradually changed. Hong Kong Bar Association’s leading lady has found herself working long hours to the point where free time seems to be a thing of the past.

“I work very long hours anyway as a barrister. If I’m doing bar work as well, it’s like managing two jobs all at once.” But Tam has found a silver lining.

“I [started] thinking of the public duties as part of my private life. Through bar work and my other public duties, I do come to make a lot of friends whom I otherwise [would] not have [had] the chance of building any friendship with,” she says. “By approaching it this way, I’m trying to see the fun side of it.”

If I have eight hours to spend, I’ll always put in 10, be it work or play
Winnie Tam

With her children off doing their own things, Tam finds some of her time freed up, which she now dedicates to more bar and pro bono work. She specialises in intellectual property, an elective she chose at university, and has been part of many high-profile cases.

Never one to sit still, Tam has always been very active. Even when a student she would find ways to stretch the use of her time and cram everything she had to do into each day.

“I remember even my mother telling me that I am stretching it too far,” she recalls. “If I have eight hours to spend, I’ll always put in 10, be it work
or play.”

Even when her workload is reduced by one day, Tam is not one for idling. She’ll keep moving forward and learning new things, she explains. She reckons if she ever finds a break in her busy schedule, she will fill it up with a trip to Tokyo, go to an opera or concert, or enjoy good food.

Tam likes to keep things simple and meaningful, like the Georg Jensen silver sterling timepiece she absolutely adores and gifted to her daughter on her master’s degree graduation.

But for a woman who goes through life at full throttle and with a string of projects and cases to work on, life seems to busy enough for now. LHC