Legal Job in Hong Kong

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  1. #1

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    Legal Job in Hong Kong

    I am finishing my last semester at a US law school, and I would like to relocate to Hong Kong on graduation. I have applied for entry to the PCLL program at Hong Kong University, but am looking for legal employment in the interim. Can anyone offer me some advice on where to look? I'll be visiting in Hong Kong in March, is there anywhere in particular I should visit in real life for help?

    Thanks in Advance.


  2. #2

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    Do you have the right of abode in HK or would you need some sort of visa?


  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by themohk:
    I am finishing my last semester at a US law school, and I would like to relocate to Hong Kong on graduation. I have applied for entry to the PCLL program at Hong Kong University, but am looking for legal employment in the interim. Can anyone offer me some advice on where to look? I'll be visiting in Hong Kong in March, is there anywhere in particular I should visit in real life for help?

    Thanks in Advance.
    You may be able to find work as a paralegal at one of the international firms - your chances will increase if you speak fluent (native level) Mandarin. Talk to some of the bigger recruiters to get a sense of your marketability. International firms don't tend to hire first years outside of the normal September/ October starting schedule (interviews would have been completed back in the fall of 2008). Looking at "local" firms will be a waste of time. They cannot hire you as a lawyer because they will not be able to meet the Law Society's supervision requirements for someone who has less than two years of practice. Note that you will not be allowed to do any of these jobs if you don't have a permanent HKID and you are in school. Your study visa won't allow you to work off campus.

    All of the above is subject to the fact that the law market in HK, like everywhere, is not good right now and firms are making cuts wherever possible. Not a good time to be fresh out of school and without an offer letter in HK. Your chances of finding gainful legal employment are much better in the US.

    On a side note - why would a US lawyer get a PCLL?? Just practice a few years then take the HK bar, if you're really interested in being HK qualified (and unless you want to litigate here or draw up wills or something why bother). The PCLL itself doesn't add anything valuable on top of a JD from a US law firm's perspective. It is marginally important at a UK firm in HK, but still not a big deal.

  4. #4

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    Thank you for your reply. My circumstances are complex: I am graduating from an American university (and hope to pass the Illinois bar), but I am Malaysian Chinese (no HKID, need visa). Part of the reason for the PCLL is that I want to return to the general region permanently, and I feel that Malaysia does not offer many opportunities for me. Another is that I participated in a mock arbitration in Hong Kong last year (Vis Moot) and felt that I was really better suited to Hong Kong then Chicago (where I currently am). Since I intend to return permanently, I felt the PCLL would give me a little more flexibility.

    I hope to secure employment of any sort, and do a PCLL part-time. Legal employment would be a first choice to gain experience, but I am willing to take any other employment that is available; I have a degree in computer science from Purdue in Indiana, but it has been some years since I have coded anything.

    Unfortunately, I only speak basic Cantonese and rudimentary mandarin (although I am working on the Mandarin). I do speak Malay, although I'm not sure how useful that is.

    Thank you again for your advice.


  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by themohk:
    Thank you for your reply. My circumstances are complex: I am graduating from an American university (and hope to pass the Illinois bar), but I am Malaysian Chinese (no HKID, need visa). Part of the reason for the PCLL is that I want to return to the general region permanently, and I feel that Malaysia does not offer many opportunities for me. Another is that I participated in a mock arbitration in Hong Kong last year (Vis Moot) and felt that I was really better suited to Hong Kong then Chicago (where I currently am). Since I intend to return permanently, I felt the PCLL would give me a little more flexibility.

    I hope to secure employment of any sort, and do a PCLL part-time. Legal employment would be a first choice to gain experience, but I am willing to take any other employment that is available; I have a degree in computer science from Purdue in Indiana, but it has been some years since I have coded anything.

    Unfortunately, I only speak basic Cantonese and rudimentary mandarin (although I am working on the Mandarin). I do speak Malay, although I'm not sure how useful that is.

    Thank you again for your advice.
    There are a lot of people going down your route, i.e. paralegaling while doing the PCLL at the same time part time. However most of them are locals, i.e. they don't have any visa issues. In your case you would be needing a visa for your PCLL and also for your part time work, I don't know if that is possible, but I am sure someone will come back and let you know.

    From personal experience most paralegals I have dealt with are locals and/or speak cantonese, however while this is the rule, there have been a few exceptions.

    Another problem with your situation is you have studied in the states. Most international and local firms prefer people with a background from england, australia, canada. While the USA is common law background, there are quite a lot of differences in US jurisprudence from the other common law countries. However, there are quite a few US firms with a presence in HK, it may be an idea to target them (look at legal 500).

    Now, the next issue, being the job market at the moment. Basically it sucks. A lot of places have hiring freezes on at the moment, and firms are letting staff go. Sorry to sound negative, but the market at the moment is not the best. Suggest you speak to a recruiter to get a better idea.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by pin:
    There are a lot of people going down your route, i.e. paralegaling while doing the PCLL at the same time part time. However most of them are locals, i.e. they don't have any visa issues. In your case you would be needing a visa for your PCLL and also for your part time work, I don't know if that is possible, but I am sure someone will come back and let you know.
    1. You can't have two visas. With a student visa you cannot (limited exceptions for PT on campus employment). With a work visa you cannot study. You also cannot get a work visa for a PT job. It would be quite difficult for you to get a work visa for a paralegal position at a local firm (there are plenty who can fill the job).

    2. Assuming you found a way around the visa issue, international firms very rarely hire part time professionals. Legal employers don't want to deal with the scheduling conflicts that are inevitable.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by hello_there:
    1. You can't have two visas. With a student visa you cannot (limited exceptions for PT on campus employment). With a work visa you cannot study. You also cannot get a work visa for a PT job. It would be quite difficult for you to get a work visa for a paralegal position at a local firm (there are plenty who can fill the job).

    2. Assuming you found a way around the visa issue, international firms very rarely hire part time professionals. Legal employers don't want to deal with the scheduling conflicts that are inevitable.
    Thanks to all for the advice. Looks like I will have to resign myself to penury, or finding a job without pursuing the PCLL.

  8. #8

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    Hi - I suggest completing your PCLL 1 year full time and waiting for the market to turn or spend 2 years in the states and do the OLQE and return once again when the market has turned. Otherwise good luck


  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zenon:
    Hi - I suggest completing your PCLL 1 year full time and waiting for the market to turn or spend 2 years in the states and do the OLQE and return once again when the market has turned. Otherwise good luck
    I completely agree with the second suggestion, unless you can land a job as a US associate at an international firm here.

    Also, I'm not sure if a US JD who does a PCLL will also have to do a 2 year training contract before qualifying to practice in HK, but that's something to figure out before making your decision. It pays nothing, and would be a big waste of time for a US JD (you should be an associate developing real practice skills, not a trainee, ie. the person who puts together closing binders, and works on other menial tasks, many of which are secretarial level (not even paralegal type) work).

  10. #10

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    Sep 2010
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    Hi

    Hi, i was browsing the net on legal opportunities in HK and i found this thread of yours. Wondering if you are currently working/studying in HK? Wat are the possible ways tat i could try out?