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In February, international law firm Paul Hastings rolled out the Paul Hastings Innovation Prize (PHIP) – a 1000-word essay competition on the subject of innovation – exclusively for students in their penultimate year at the University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Law. This is unlike most campus recruitment campaigns in the legal field where academic excellence usually plays a leading role for aspiring talents to score a summer internship, 

Two winners will be announced in August, both receiving HK$15,000 in cash and a summer internship that could potentially turn to a trainee contract after assessment by the top executives.  

Through this competition, the firm aims to distinguish top talents that not only demonstrates academic excellence or professional writing skills, but also those who possess an innovative mindset and are capable of giving great advice to the firms’ clients, and executing big ideas. 

After initial screenings by HR, Jeff Lee, an associate in the corporate department at Paul Hastings, selects the top two candidates for the summer internship.

In light of this, Human Resources asked the firm (PH) a few questions about their new recruitment initiative:

Who came up with the idea of hosting an essay competition? Why is there a need?

Our senior HR Manager Vera Yue came up with the idea. As the firm grows, more and more of our talent will be tech-savvy Millennials who grew up in a different era where technology, the Internet, and innovation are a core part of their daily lives. 

To attract them, we believe there is a need to come up with a modernised approach that is both engaging and can bring out their best qualities. 

This essay competition is an open and creative opportunity that allows us to know directly how the younger generation views innovation, a fundamental value of the firm’s growth strategy, while identifying the ones who possess an innovative mindset that are aligned with the firm’s ethos. 

How does PHIP fit into Paul Hastings’ recruitment campaign as a whole?

As businesses gradually transform digitally to adapt to today’s face-paced, data-driven environment, our goal is to stay ahead of the game and serve as an agent of change, by designing novel ways to work with the younger generation. 

The competition serves as a method to nurture and inspire top-notch applicants to share their innovative ideas, which echoes the firm’s aspiration to celebrate young talents with innovative minds, further strengthening the firm’s positioning on innovation.

It also echoes back to our recruitment strategy, where we are not only looking for a great lawyer with legal skills, but a good advisor to clients and a team player who quickly adapts and embraces changes.  

Why does Paul Hastings consider now is a good time to launch a new programme?

It's exactly these challenging circumstances that show the need for change is more urgent than ever. We must strive to stay ahead of the game and act nimble to changes in order to stay afloat and lead in uncertain times. People are the core of our business and we must ensure our talent can live up to the challenges we face ahead. 

Additionally, we believe the initiative serve as an encouragement for aspiring lawyers in Hong Kong to pursue their career goals in these trying times.