Ukrainian Bar Association continues introducing international participants. Please meet Felix Ng.
In the international criminal law arena, apart from being a judge for the International Criminal Court (ICC) Moot Court Competition held in the Hague, Felix has served as an officer in the Criminal Law Committee, Business Crime Committee and Young Lawyers’ Committee of the International Bar Association (IBA) for over a decade. He also authored a wealth of international legal publications on criminal investigations, anti-corruption and antitrust law.
Highly acclaimed by global legal directories, Felix was recently nominated as “Dispute Resolution Lawyer of the Year” at the Asian Legal Business Law Awards 2022, and led his law firm to win the Criminal Law Firm of the Year.
Why did you decide to join the UBA as an International Participant?
War crimes, crimes against humanity and international humanitarian law have always intrigued me, thanks to the training that I underwent at the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) in Turin and Leiden University in the Hague. Witnessing the trial of Thomas Lubanga, a convicted war criminal from the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the ICC courtroom in the Hague in 2009 was a truly unforgettable experience.
I was born and raised in Hong Kong, an affluent city untouched by international armed conflicts. During my adolescence, the tragic TV news on Bosnian War in the early 1990’s left its mark on me, especially the heinous genocide in Srebrenica and the humanitarian crisis that followed.
I visited Sarajevo in 2015 on the 20th anniversary of war and had the chance to talk to local Bosnians, who shared fascinating stories about defending their homeland or how they became refugees overnight. While the war had ended for two decades, the trauma (and to a certain extent, hatred) remained indefinitely which was rather disheartening to me.
It, therefore, made me wonder what an international criminal lawyer could do to help the people in war-torn jurisdictions.
As the Russia-Ukraine War is escalating with no end in sight, the humanitarian situation in Ukraine is alarming. What touched me, though, are the stories of resilience, pride and professionalism shared by my Ukrainian lawyer friends amid this crisis. Most of them live and work in Kiev, tirelessly carrying out their legal and family duties even when the sirens are heard.
While I am physically five thousand miles away from the conflict zone, I decided to join the Ukrainian Bar Association and provided sponsorship to the war-affected lawyers. There is no political agenda – I just feel that this is the least we could do to help our fellow practitioners in dire situations.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges before the legal profession today?
‘The Great Resignation’ is real – fee earner burnout frequently happens in my legal circle, partially due to modern technology which (unfortunately) connects clients with lawyers 24/7 via emails, apps and social media.
High salaries alone is definitely not the answer to attract and keep talent nowadays – flexible working conditions, a supportive culture, and respect towards lawyers’ personal lives would be vital for law firms.
What do you think the legal profession will look like in the future?
With the proliferation of AI and legal technology, traditional forms of providing legal advice will likely be assisted by automated systems, chatbots or other legal-tech software based on big data. More routine legal work such as contract drafting or compliance work will likely be wiped out, since clients may employ user-centric automated solutions to handle these tasks without lawyers in the future.
About a decade ago, none of us could envisage the conduct of legal proceedings and investigation interviews via video conferencing facilities and document sharing platforms.
It would be interesting to see if robots or other forms of automated devices could ultimately replace lawyers in conducting advocacy in court proceedings and in client meetings.
Such a transformation would be daunting and exciting for lawyers at the same time, and we all need to embrace it regardless.