DCB Alumni Interview | Yi Wen Lee shares a journey of leadership and law

Diana Tsang
Dulwich College Beijing

At the Alumni Dinner at Dulwich College London held earlier this year, DCB Class of 2019 Yi Wen Lee felt a strong sense of nostalgia. Reconnecting with her fellow alumni, some of whom she maintains regular contact with, others not seen since graduation, felt like travelling back to the past. "It can be difficult to fit in abroad as a third-culture kid, so seeing everyone again was probably the closest feeling to ‘home’ that I experienced while living in London,” Yi Wen reminisced. “I’ve always really valued the DCB community, and I think you grow to value it even more once you've left.”

DCB 2019, Graduation Day Dulwich College 2024, DCB Alumni Reunion

Yi Wen is currently a trainee solicitor at a law firm in London. During her two-year "training" period, she rotates through four departments before specialising in a particular field. Last year, she sat with two banking teams, tackling financings for large-scale projects like EV battery farms, nuclear power plants, and private equity houses. She is currently in the corporate mergers and acquisitions (M&A) department, where she primarily focuses on tech and infrastructure M&A. 

Dulwich College 2024, DCB Alumni Reunion Dulwich College 2024, DCB Alumni Reunion

Her day-to-day life varies depending on the project and department she's in. Her role involves tasks such as coordinating teams in different jurisdictions (e.g., Hong Kong, France, Australia, New York), drafting shorter documents (e.g., legal opinions and board resolutions), and researching questions for clients.

In addition to work, Yi Wen is also involved in several pro bono projects, providing legal advice free of charge. Past projects have included advising individuals on their housing and disrepair issues, maternity leave queries, and representing a client at a disability benefits hearing.


Her Leadership Journey

Yi Wen joined Dulwich College Beijing in Year 8. During her time here, she held several leadership positions including Head Girl, Secretary General of DIMUN, and Owens House Captain. “The best part about these roles was being able to create something with the teams I worked with—whether that was working together to prepare for a conference with other international schools or pushing the limits of your imagination with House Drama,” said Yi Wen. She also founded Debate for Change, a charity debate competition, and gained valuable insights into setting up something from scratch. "DCB offers everyone incredible leadership opportunities—teachers are always supportive of very ambitious activities and students are given a huge amount of autonomy to pursue these plans.”

AY 2017-2018 Yi Wen Lee's Charity Debate Competition is awarded USD1500 Learning Service Grant Yi Wen Lee's Charity Debate Competition awarded USD1500 Learning Service Grant by ACAMIS
DCB 2018, World Scholars' Cup Team, Kuala Lumpur DCB 2018, World Scholars' Cup Team, Kuala Lumpur
DCB 2019, Schwarzman College Women's Conference DCB 2019, Schwarzman College Women's Conference

Having now gone to university, Yi Wen is even more impressed by what students are able to achieve during their time at DCB. From hosting conferences and fundraising for charity to leading a team at a House event, these are experiences that really make DCB students stand out at university. During her time at the University of Cambridge, Yi Wen remarked that almost all of the DCB alumni there went on to have very impressive leadership positions in the community. She believes this is because leadership, collaborating with others, and organising large-scale events are foundational skills which everyone is able to hone at DCB.

As for herself in university, Yi Wen was able to build on her experience at DCB as Chair of the International Students' Campaign (ISC), Secretary of the Cambridge University Law Society, and Women's Officer for the Trinity College Students' Union. “One of the highlights of my time at Cambridge was organising International Freshers' Week, where we welcomed over 500 students across several events, including a garden party, board game nights, and punting socials,” Yi Wen recalled. “We also hosted an International Food Festival, where we celebrated food from over 20 different cuisines—ranging from Vietnamese to Hungarian and Chinese to Brazilian.”

Cambridge 2021, ISC Committee Cambridge 2021, ISC Committee

Values of a Multicultural Identity

When asked about the significance of a global education perspective like that offered at DCB, Yi Wen conveyed its profound importance, stressing that such an education equips individuals with essential skills to navigate the ever-changing landscape of the modern world. “A global education fosters adaptability and growth in the face of evolving job markets,” Yi Wen added.

“Obviously don't judge a book by its cover, but it's often quite easy to spot an ‘international school student’—whether that's because of the way they dress, the way they do things or the way they speak,” Yi Wen observed. “My guess is that we've picked up influences from lots of different cultures (since our schools are a melting pot of nationalities), so people often can't place where we're from because we don't fit a set mould.”

DCB 2019, Graduation Picture with friends DCB 2019, Graduation Picture with friends

“My accent, for example, is a strange mix of British, American, and parts that nobody can quite place. Wherever I am, the part that's different sticks out. I used to be very self-conscious about this, but I’ve come to realise it's just a reflection of my identity, a reflection of the fact that I’ve got this international background."

She further pointed out, “Another practical benefit is the fact that most DCB students are fluent in more than one language, which opens up a lot of opportunities!”


Why Law?

Yi Wen's decision to pursue law at university stemmed from three primary factors. Firstly, her affinity for debating and public speaking. Secondly, her inclination towards essay-centric subjects. And lastly, she believed that it would open up a lot of doors professionally. 

Having now finished her studies, Yi Wen highly recommends law for those seeking a subject that fosters analytical thinking, encourages awareness of current events, and offers diverse career opportunities. It is worth noting that aspiring lawyers in the UK are not required to study law initially. Approximately half of the country's lawyers are from non-law subjects—a one-year conversion course after university is all that is needed. 

Cambridge 2022, on top of the Trinity Wren Library, Graduation Day Cambridge 2022, on top of the Trinity Wren Library, Graduation Day

Yi Wen’s Tips for Aspiring Lawyers

  1. Get involved. Join activities that help build up your analytical and public speaking skills like debating, Model United Nations (MUN) or anything else that involves digesting information and presenting it to others. I also took essay-writing subjects like English Literature, History and Economics at IB, which I found helpful. But don't worry if you've chosen to go the STEM route; some of the best lawyers I know studied Science at university!
  2. Read, read, and read. Everyone says law involves a lot of reading...but I still underestimated how much reading it actually requires! Some "starter" books related to law that I read when I was in high school included “Letters to a Law Student” by Nicholas McBride, "What about the Law?" by Catherine Barnard, Janet O’Sullivan, and Graham Virgo and "Is Eating People Wrong?" by Allan Hutchinson.
  3. Keep up to date. It's helpful to stay informed about current affairs. You could do this by listening to podcasts or reading a section of The Guardian or The Economist each day. 
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At Dulwich College Beijing, we aim to foster lifelong relationships with our alumni, whom we fondly call our International Old Alleynians (IOAs). The Worldwise Alumni Network (WAN) is a powerful professional and social community for IOAs to forge and maintain lasting bonds and a powerful professional and social platform for alumni and current students.