When Andrew Halper graduated from the Allard School of Law in 1981, little did he know that his degree would lead him to live and work around the world.
After a stint in Vancouver as a Crown Counsel and then in private practice until 1989, Halper joined the Canadian diplomatic service, working in Ottawa and Hong Kong, and then at the Canadian embassy in Beijing between 1991 and 1994.
He readily acknowledges the indispensability of business development to keeping law firms going, but also observes that “what’s beautiful about working for an organization like the Foreign Service is there’s no need to go out and hustle people and try and convert them into clients…. All of that is abstracted. It’s out of the picture. You can just focus on political as well as legal issues.”
Halper said the experiential learning opportunities he received as a clinic student are among his most salient memories from his time at Allard.
“The clinical experience was hugely impactful for me,” he said. “It was the seminal, sort of lynchpin experience of my time in law school.”
Halper also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese from UBC as well as a DEA in African Law from Université de Paris, Panthéon-Sorbonne.
Following his time with the diplomatic service in China, he remained in Beijing where he headed the office of Canadian law firm Goodman Phillips & Vineberg. He left Beijing after 7 years and settled in England in 1998, joining Dentons LLP as a corporate partner in their London office, and later working as a partner at the London and Shanghai offices of Eversheds LLP and CMS Cameron McKenna. He has also held a number of advisory roles related to business in China.
In addition to serving on the University of London’s Board of Trustees, he is Chair of the British Refugee Council, and is a part-time magistrate in Northwest London.
Halper said he has enjoyed remaining involved in legal education, lecturing part-time on Chinese law at three U.K. universities during his first decade in London, and in recent years as a member of the Allard School of Law’s Dean’s Advisory Committee for the Centre for Asian Legal Studies.
“That is an extremely interesting thing to do. I don’t think I’m an authority on Asian legal studies, but I practiced on the ground in China for a long time and then did obviously quite a lot of work for Chinese corporates outside of China and western corporates going in, so a practitioner’s view is considered helpful,” he said.
For students and young lawyers who might be interested in pursuing career opportunities internationally, Halper’s advice is simple: “be bold.”
“I think you have to take chances,” he said. “Without wanting to sound too ridiculous, life is an adventure, and as far as we know we have one go-round, so people should be bold, if that’s what they long to do. They should figure out how to do it because it’s not going to happen for you automatically.”