Frank Hutapea - Unlocking a Young Lawyer’s Path to Success
Hotman’s oldest son shares his father’s passion, looks, and ethics. And both of them champions personal victories and success while aggressively fighting to defend their clients in and out of the courtroom. But unlike his father who is outspoken in media and has over a million followers on Instagram, when you try to take a closer look at Frank Hutapea’s personal life on the internet you will find nothing other than a professional profile.
“I’m a different person than my dad. He enjoys [fame] and never say no to taking pictures with people. He lives for it, he lives for the career. I think it’s the generation gap, I grew up with social media, so nowadays, I have my own boundaries and I like my privacy,” says the 28-year old up-and-coming lawyer.
Growing up in a house where both parents are in the legal profession, Frank admits that he was brainwashed since the early age. As he recalls, his father is the kind of person who takes their kids to work, even on a school holiday. “During the Asian financial crisis in 1998 there were many bankruptcy cases, and that was the time when I went with him to the courtroom the most,” Frank says. “I just sat down and listened to the case,” he adds.
Frank explained that the family’s law firm became famous because of bankruptcy and business cases. Hotman Paris and Partners was established by his father in 1999 after he left Makarim and Taira as a partner. Since then, the firm has specialised in bankruptcy litigation, international finance litigation, and criminal litigation, primarily white-collar crime.
Runs in the Blood
While attending university in 2009, Frank was not planning to follow in the footsteps of his father, instead, he pursued business in San Francisco. Before he continues his study at another university in LA, his father visited him to ask about his plans after graduating, and to ensure that business major is the right direction for Frank. After giving some thoughts, Frank had a change of heart at the last minute. He found his true calling, and within a week he changed major, then applied to the University of Kent in London where he earned his Bachelor of Laws. Frank also took an intensive class in Jakarta, because without the local degree he cannot practice Law in Indonesia.
“My parents didn’t give me much freedom when I was young, but they spoon fed me with what they have. They taught me their way, and today I get to live my life and be independent,” Frank says.
Currently, Frank is at his 3rd year as Managing Associate at the firm focusing on Business Law. He still needs to work his way up. Previously he worked at two other law firms in Jakarta and at an American firm in Singapore. While in London he worked at SJ Berwin, one of the biggest multinational law firm.
Despite the undisputed importance of education, certain skills are rarely taught in law schools or even the law offices where many young lawyers start their careers. In practising Law, education is the number two priority, while experience is number one. Frank explained that a lawyer is a one person job. Just because his father is famous doesn’t mean that his father’s client will trust him. His father’s client hires based on experience, even though Frank worked twice the obligation. “I have to build my own career, and it’s not easy at all,” Frank says. “I went through hard times at first. Lawyering is about the experience. A few years ago my salary was 3 million rupiah per month, working until late night,” he adds.
Frank admits that being a Hotman Paris’s son is both a gift and curse. His father obviously opens a lot of doors for him to succeed. However, People will always underestimate him at the meetings or courtroom. This is one of the reasons that motivate frank to work twice harder.
At the firm, Frank involved with every case that they faced, in which several are the biggest bankruptcy cases in Indonesia as well as mining cases. “The way I see it, my father build the law firm with more than 30 years of experience. At the end of the day I have to step up and take over his legacy someday,” he points out.
Today’s young lawyers are expected to be expert in networking. From day one it is necessary for them to build relationships with their colleagues and clients. On the weekdays, after office hours, Frank spends his time socialising. He noted that it is one of the important aspects of being a lawyer. “You cannot be a hypocrite, in Indonesia relationship matters. It's good for your career and makes your job easier,” Frank says.
Often time, cases are settled before court hearing because of the relationship with the other lawyer. They respect each other enough that they don’t want to create an enemy. In terms of money, it’s not good for business, because the lawyer doesn’t receive a success fee. However, they have to act on what’s best for the client.
Frank disclosed that sometime the client doesn’t understand the real problem, and it’s a challenge to explain the dispute. Emotion and anger poisons decision-making, thus they can’t think logically. In that case, he advised his client to settle instead of going through a long process. Telling them what’s best for them. For Frank, what matters the most to him is the trust given by his clients. “When they trust you, they will ask for your advice on everything, even a very private family matters. You cannot buy trust,” he stated.
The biggest obstacle for Frank is that he has many friends in Jakarta. Sometimes, before his father takes a case, he would ask Frank to ensure there is no conflict of interest. To prospective clients Frank advised that it would be better for a company to hire him on a retainer base, that way if there is a case his law firm cannot act against the company.
Frank is known to enjoy the night scene where he can mingle, drink and socialise. He admits that he has a habit to explore the night-life in every country that he visit. His dream is one day to have his own bar or lounge where he can call his own and bring his friends to hang out and also networking.
“My dad always tells me to set my target and chase it. My other passion is opening a lounge one day. It doesn’t have to be a happening spot, as long as I can make it however I want. I’m still realistic with my dreams,” Frank says.
Frank described his ideal weekend getaway is spending time at one of his villas in Bali, drive around Canggu to enjoy the empty roads, and eat a nice fruit bowl with coffee while reading easy articles without political news.
Frank enjoys to participating in car gatherings, particularly Lamborghini club because he can be at the same level with other successful people and sometimes according to Frank they just want to spend a good time instead of talking business.
Frank’s favourite watch brand is Richard Mille. He notes that collecting watch is an expensive hobby, however, he follows his father’s advice to buy everything with cash, not a credit card. But he admits that at the moment he doesn’t have the luxury to buy on his own. Most of his watches are gifts.
Spending a few years in London while attending University makes Europe Frank’s number one favourite destination. Spending time in London is the ideal holiday for him.
Golfing in the morning is one of Frank’s favourite activity. Besides spending time with friends, golf is also an opportunity for networking. This gentleman’s game is also great for health and career.