Alumni Spotlight: Jane Pek (2008-2014; New York)

May 22, 2023

Cleary Gottlieb alumni often reflect upon their time at the firm with fondness and gratitude.

Jane Pek (2008-2014; New York), Director (Legal & Regulatory) at Temasek International (USA) LLC, shares some of her thoughts below.

When were you at Cleary, what group were you in, and why did you choose Cleary?

I was in M&A. Ironically, I went into Cleary thinking that was the one group I didn’t want to be in because it would be too intense, all-nighters, etc. Then I was staffed on an M&A transaction that ended up taking over my life for a few months, and while that part was non-ideal, I realized I really enjoyed the pace and dynamics and moving pieces.

What skills did you learn or experiences did you have at Cleary that have served you well?

I learned so much! Legal drafting skills, how to analyze and communicate about complex legal issues, how to be appropriately anal about work product. The best thing about Cleary, though, was the people I met, who were smart and funny and kind and interesting. I remain good friends with a number of them, even though we have all moved on from Cleary at this point.

Tell us your path from Cleary to where you are now.

After Cleary, I took a break from the law for a few years – I spent a year in Singapore, where I’m originally from, and did an MFA in fiction-writing at Brooklyn College. I loved my time at the MFA, but towards the end of it I started to panic about financial security or the lack thereof and ran back into the comforting arms of corporate law. I found a job as in-house counsel at the New York office of Temasek, a global investment company based in Singapore, which is also a Cleary client!

After Cleary you went to Temasek. What do you enjoy most about your role?

Getting to work on a wide range of matters – we invest in everything from early-stage startups to PE buyouts to public markets, across different industries – and learning about all kinds of interesting companies, developments, and trends.

What’s the biggest misconception about your job?

That I work at a PE fund (which I don’t because we don’t take third-party money) or a sovereign wealth fund (while Temasek is owned by the Singapore government, we also don’t invest government monies).

If you can share, what legal issues do you often need to consider?

Regulatory implications are always important for us, especially in this current environment. Structure, governance, and exit rights are also things that I often think about.

What has surprised you?

The degree of autonomy I have, which I definitely appreciate!

You are also an author, having recently written and published your debut novel, The VerifiersWhen did you first discover your love for writing and what inspires you?

Writing has been the one constant in my life, something I’ve done since I was a kid and that I’ve kept coming back to. I love the “what if?” in fiction, and how it provides us with a way of exploring human questions and concerns that can be both timely and timeless.

What’s the best and the worst writing advice you have received?

Best – toss-up between “Write something that only you would be able to write” and “An ending should be surprising yet inevitable.”

Worst – from a well-meaning friend: “Come up with a formula and follow it!”

What’s next for you on the writing front?

I was fortunate enough to sell the next two books to The Verifiers, thus turning it into a trilogy! So I’m working on Book 2 right now, and cursing my lack of foresight with respect to various things I said in Book 1 that I now have to live with in Book 2 and going forward. I also write short fiction, and have a story coming out in a literary magazine called Electric Literature this summer.

Do you have any favorite memories from your time at Cleary?

There were some great three-hour summer lunches . . . I also remember fondly, no doubt because enough time has passed, a Bank of America M&A deal that I was on as a first-year where, because there was so much going on, I ended up working directly with the client on a piece of the transaction – the Cleary team was great, the client was forgiving, and I learned a ton.

What advice do you have for a young Cleary associate who may want to pursue a similar career path?

For any Cleary associates who may be interested in becoming fiction-writers, I’d say the most important thing is establishing the time and mental space and discipline to actually get the book written.

What advice would you offer any young associate that you wish someone had offered you?

Sleep as much as you can, when you can.

Is there anything I haven’t asked you about yet that you would want to share with the Cleary community?

These are all great questions!

Learn more about Cleary’s global alumni network here.