In our latest Q&A with our recently appointed partners, we get to know Brisbane-based financial lines specialist, Ronnie Mok.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a partner at W+K.

In July 2008, I started as a graduate at a national plaintiff law firm, working in class actions and commercial litigation. After four years there, I moved into a boutique firm working in general litigation and insolvency matters. In September 2015, I decided that I needed a sea change in my career. At the time, there was an opening in the W+K financial lines team. I quickly vibed with the Brisbane partners during my interview and was drawn by the quality and mix of litigation work on offer. The offer came through and I didn’t hesitate to say yes.

I joined W+K Brisbane as an Associate in a small team of 4 lawyers. I worked on a wide variety of professional indemnity, D&O, management liability, environmental liability and large-scale property damage matters, before progressing to running those types of files as a Senior Associate, then Special Counsel. The team has grown tremendously during my time here. By end of month, we’ll have 13 lawyers and still room for more additions!

As for partnership, I never really had it as my end goal. I simply enjoyed working on the files alongside an exceptional group of lawyers, irrespective of title. I was, however, lucky enough to have a supervising partner and mentor who recognised I had the potential to go further and persisted in encouraging me towards partnership. Once the idea was planted, I spoke to a range of people across the firm to understand what the realities of partnership would be and discovered that I actually was driven to take that step. With the support of the existing Brisbane partners and the W+K executive team, I decided to take the plunge and became a partner in July 2022.

What made you decide to become a lawyer?

I had always thought about becoming a lawyer ever since I was a kid. But, it’s fair to say, I had no idea what it meant other than the wholly unrealistic version shown in movies or TV shows. As I grew older, I came to realise that English and the humanities were my strong suits – and I also didn’t mind having an argument! So, while all my friends headed into medicine, dentistry or engineering at uni, I decided to follow my strengths (and glamourised childhood ambition!?) and enter law school.

What do you think is a major issue facing your area of insurance law?

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) risk. The concept itself can be quite overwhelming, given it traverses such a broad cross-section of issues and involves so many stakeholders and interests. There are high expectations and responsibilities at play, yet pronounced capability and execution gaps. Given ESG risk impacts on all industries and businesses, insurers are figuring out how to help their insureds manage such risks, but at the same time, determine how these risks affect them.

In the professional indemnity and financial lines space, there will be a sharp focus on an insured’s risk disclosures and progress towards ESG targets as represented to regulators, investors and employees. ASIC has recently signalled its intent to scrutinise the issue of greenwashing. Claims will begin to surface where there is a gap between ESG-related commitments and what is being achieved in reality.

What’s the best piece of advice (work or personal) you’ve been given?

Always keep moving on a file, even if it’s taking small baby steps.

What do you enjoy most about working at W+K?

The collegiality and the challenging work. Being able to work with people that you genuinely get along with (and can call friends) on a range of interesting and stimulating matters makes the work days go by very quickly!

What do you get up to outside of law?

Family and friends are uber important to me and who I spend most of my time with, outside of law. That time is often combined with my love for cooking. There is something wholesome and edifying about people eating together. I love being able to knock up a few dishes of Asian comfort food, a French chicken fricassee or a lemon and calamari risotto and having people gather, connect and share life together over a meal. I also enjoy sports and keeping fit. At the moment, I am playing in a touch footy comp with two social teams and training weekly with a PT. The endorphin kick is great after a long day grappling with complex questions of law.

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…

A dessert chef at a three Michelin star restaurant. Or running my own dessert bar (watch out Reynold Poernomo).