Obituaries: Vincent Connor, Scots solicitor who became well known in Hong Kong

Vincent Connor, solicitor. Born: 17 April 1964 in Glasgow. Died: 5 October 2021 in Hong Kong, aged 57

Vincent Connor loved to relax with a spot of drumming (Picture: Pinsent Masons)
Vincent Connor loved to relax with a spot of drumming (Picture: Pinsent Masons)

Vincent Connor was a lawyer and beyond. He undoubtedly developed an outstanding reputation in the field of construction law both in Scotland and Hong Kong, however, his contribution to society and life went far beyond the practice of law.

Although his mother died when Vincent was only nine, his father Stan – a gliding regiment veteran in Palestine, and ultimately a Strathclyde Police Chief Superintendent – sister Pauline and brothers Arthur and Tony forged him into the dapper, multi-talented gentleman and lawyer that he became.

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Vincent was an academic star from primary school in Kirkintilloch through to Glasgow University, from which, in 1987, he graduated with First Class Honours.

He went on to train as a solicitor with Glasgow firm Hughes Dowdall and in 1990, not long after qualifying as a Scottish solicitor, pivoted from general civil and criminal law and joined the leading construction law practice of McGrigor Donald in Glasgow.

His blend of military-like organisational skill, desire for the theatre of advocacy and superb relationship handling ensured that by 1995 Vincent was already a Partner.

In 1996 he made partner again, this time by marrying Gillian, and they were able to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary just weeks before his passing.

As a young boy in the early Seventies Vincent’s ambition was to be a spy – M15, of course, no doubt influenced by early James Bond – and it’s fair to surmise that Connor, Vincent Connor, would have excelled in the military or MI5 just as he excelled as a lawyer.

Being a lawyer, though, afforded Vincent the opportunity to wield his talents as an ambassador, diplomat and advocate. Courage, opportunity and a challenge always seemed to define him.

In 1998, despite being at the very top of his game and having a lot to lose by leaving McGrigor Donald, Vincent teamed up with a close friend (your author) to establish a Scottish law firm for the international London law firm of Masons (now Pinsent Masons).

Vincent seized the opportunity. There were only four lawyers to start with, but with his guidance, work ethic, advocacy skills, organisational capability and relationship nous, the young business grew rapidly.

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Although he had made a huge success of the firm’s Scottish business, Vincent responded to another call of duty. In 2007 Vincent and Gillian left Scotland for Hong Kong, where he set about becoming a Hong Kong Scot, a global Scot and a leader of the Pinsent Masons Hong Kong office.

Apart from developing a stellar reputation as a Construction and Engineering lawyer in Hong Kong, resolving issues on some of the largest infrastructure projects in the region, Vincent somehow found the time to develop a wider societal contribution.

He took on a number of external roles including Chair of the International Infrastructure Forum of the British Chamber of Commerce, and Honorary legal adviser to the Institution of Civil Engineers in Hong Kong.

He sat on the advisory board of the Law Faculty at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Outside of Hong Kong he was a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Vincent was a proud Scot and his contribution to Scotland as a Hong Kong Scot was incredible. He did a huge amount of work in promoting Scotland internationally and particularly in Hong Kong. This was recognised when he was inducted by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon into the GlobalScot Hall of Fame in 2018, having been appointed a GlobalScot as early as 2007.

Vincent was also a trustee of the Saltire Foundation, which supports high-flying Scottish graduates in securing international work experience opportunities, and chaired a council of Scottish business people in Hong Kong.

He never forgot his first class legal education and was an ambassador for Glasgow University and their alumni network in Hong Kong. On top of all that, he was a Saint Andrew’s Society committee member, often reciting and singing at Burns Suppers and other events.

Away from the office and his societal contributions, Vincent’s focus was on Gillian, and his love of life and fun was legendary. He was a drummer and vocalist in a gifted amateur rock band, The Basic Lawyers. He enjoyed travelling, hiking, learning Spanish, socialising, singing and drumming.

Vincent’s star qualities held with him to the end. He took his courage to his illness and never seemed to let fear find a path. A Hong Kong Scottish man who made purposeful contributions in all walks of his life, he will be missed by his wife Gillian, his siblings Pauline, Arthur and Tony and their families, his friends, work and society.

As he was fond of saying: “Make it so!“

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