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A Path Less Travelled ... from General Counsel to NewLaw and KorumLegal

NewLaw, People
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So, I’ve been asked a few times what has led me to NewLaw and to KorumLegal? 

I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a little more of my backstory and the path that has led me to my current role at KorumLegal. Telling this story requires me to go back a few decades, but please do bear with me! 

Along with my family, left Vietnam in April 1978 when I was just seven years old. The gigantic world that lay beyond the shallow muddy shores of the Mekong River – where I was from – was, until that point, beyond reach or imagination. As we drifted on the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean for the next month or so, intercepted by pirates and facing the prospect of not being able to land ashore again, we did not know what the future would hold, or where we would eventually end up. Only that our lives had been forever transformed. Arriving in Sydney, Australia, some two months later in the depth of Winter, I was already a changed boy, having been plunged into a new country, a new language, a new house, a new way of living. Nothing was going to ever be the same again.

Even at that early stage, change was an ever-present companion in my life, and it would follow me for the next 40 years to this day. So, yes, it may be a cliché to say but change has been a constant and I continue to embrace the changes in my personal and professional life 

I started out my legal career in the Sydney office of Baker McKenzie (or Baker & McKenzie, as it was then known) as an IT lawyer. Having spent 5 years with the firm, I decided that being an in-house counsel was more my thing. After I got a small taste at a printer company called Lexmark, I joined the in-house legal team at Westpac in its IT and Commercial. It was the beginning of a long-term relationship with in-house and with financial services institutions. After 5 years at Westpac, the lure of working overseas led me to Western Union, where I joined the Asia-Pacific legal team based in Hong Kong as a legal counsel, eventually becoming its Asia Pacific General Counsel for a number of years. With my small team of 6 lawyers and other professionals, we looked after the legal, regulatory and commercial aspects of the Western Union business in 39 jurisdictions. We learnt how to be lean, efficient and to adapt to change very quickly. 

Then, in September 2016, the lure of change once again knocked on my door. I had the chance to move to the London office of Western Union. With this, I was able to realise a long-held dream of living and working in Europe – and London, in particular. The world was getting bigger again.  

Towards the end of 2017 and into early 2018, my feet were beginning to itch. Having spent almost 10 years at Western Union, I felt that it was time to move on and explore new horizons and opportunities. That desire for something completely new and different ultimately led me to NewLaw and to KorumLegal. Before starting work at KorumLegal, I took the opportunity to do some travel, including to the small Kingdom of Bhutan. Seeing first-hand how people lived and went about their daily lives, with great humility, was a humbling experience. 

As a client engaging law firms, I had always been frustrated with the lack of innovation and flexibility in the legal services market. I wanted to be a part of a new outfit that understood what it means to be a client; what it means to be truly client-centric; what it means to understand the client’s business and vision. I wanted to be part of a disruptive movement that seeks to do things just that little bit differently. I wanted to be a service provider that focused on value-add and delivering outcomes and practical solutions; and not just keeping the clock ticking over. I always believed that there was a better way to deliver legal solutions to clients. That is why, when looking for new opportunities, I was drawn to KorumLegal. I was drawn to its refreshing approach to client service management, to its delivery of quality and outcomes-focused solutions, and to its commitment to creating and fostering a community of engaged and motivated consultants, where they’re not seen as just another resource, but a valued extension to the KorumLegal family.

So, yes, you could say that it’s been a path less travelled than most lawyers. But one that presents tremendous challenges and opportunities. Having been at KorumLegal for just over a year now, I can honestly say that I have no regrets. I remain excited about this business and what it has to offer our clients, our consultants and our small tight-knit team of employees. Together, we share a common vision.

So that’s the journey to here. There’s still much to do, but I’m excited about the prospects of what we can still achieve together as a team. Our full potential as a business is there to be realised.

Posted by Danh Nguyen

Danh is the EMEA General Manager & Managing Consultant of KorumLegal and an experienced general counsel with over 18 years of global commercial practice experience across banking/financial services/payments and IT/technology and outsoucing sectors. He has worked in global listed companies and in private practice on a wide range of matters including general commercial, remittances and payments, financial services regulatory, AML/CTF, business advisory and strategic risk and compliance. He has advised on and led efforts to successfully apply for remittance and payments licences in a number of jurisdictions across Asia Pacific. He brings the diversity of his experience to the KorumLegal management team in leading large transformation initiatives, using Lean Management principles, tools and practices to drive organisational, operational and cultural change, including Legal Process Management.

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