Special Report – José Álvares

What better way to celebrate Macau Business’s 17th anniversary than to showcase 17 locals aged 35 and younger with the kind of talent that boosts our confidence in the future?

MB May 2021 Special Report | 17 talented young people

José Álvares was made partner at just 29 and has been a prominent lawyer among the younger generation. He has also become a current affairs commentator and has been sharing views on Macau and Hong Kong, while refusing to jump on the China-bashing bandwagon.

Of the several young Portuguese lawyers that have arrived in Macau in the past decade, one has stood out: José Álvares.

He got here by chance: after graduation, a six-month internship at a Macau-based law firm seemed like a sound opportunity to kickstart his career. Thereafter he was picked up by a veteran Portuguese lawyer in the region with whom he’d collaborated closely for five years. He then left to team up with a friend, engineer-turned-lawyer Barry Cheong, and CA Lawyers came into being, with Jose Álvares a founding partner at the age of 29. He credits being surrounded by a truly welcoming community – his clients are mostly local, among them friends and others who gave him a chance, accepting him with open arms into reputable organizations such as the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and the Hong Kong Securities and Investment Institute. He resists the temptation to give further details – in this profession (as in others) discretion is key, a policy he takes especially seriously given his position as a council member on the Macau Lawyers Ethics Board (where he was recently re-elected to another two-year term).

Like the majority of lawyers in Macau, Mr Álvares is primarily a generalist. That being said, while previously he worked extensively in the financial sector, he is now more focused on civil litigation as well as on corporate and private wealth advice.

His story is a rare one in that, given the current environment, he created a new office in a traditional sector after just 5 years in a new city and before he’d turned 30 (he is now 32).

That’s not the only reason we put him on this list, however.

In recent years, José Álvares has also been providing political commentary in the media on several matters, including some more “sensitive” than others.

Last year, for example, when a number of non-Chinese commentators criticized Hong Kong’s national security bill, he remarked – while not touting it as the ideal way forward – that he believed the protesters’ radicalism had ultimately forced Beijing’s hand.

“I will not unreflectively jump on the China-bashing bandwagon – far from it,” he stresses. “I think there is a certain level of misunderstanding of China. I have a lot more to learn, but at least I’ve had a chance to have a glimpse of it on the ground”. José Álvares sees no reason to come here with a proclaimed superiority that could lead to unsettling a community that has crafted its own flourishing path. Moreover, he says, given time, one finds examples of healthy interaction and exchange: “with Deng Xiaoping, on the economic front there was a gradual opening to foreigners and a shift to a more market-based economy, which was typical of the West”.

In his free time, José is a sports addict, currently playing on local team Chiba in the 3rd Division of the Macau Football Association. He also engages in volunteering initiatives, currently taking part in Oxfam Hong Kong, whose main cause is poverty alleviation – a key, he says, to a sustainable future.

Previous | Inky Leong