Overseas Lawyers Qualification Examinations

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  1. #1

    Overseas Lawyers Qualification Examinations

    Hey guys,

    I'm new to this and was wondering if anyone could give me a bit of advice.

    My boyfriend and I are looking at relocating to Hong Kong. I understand that as a lawyer from a common law jurisdiction I'll need to sit the Overseas Lawyers Qualification Examinations.

    I was just wondering:

    (a) how long is a reasonable period of time to study for the exams? e.g a couple of months?; and

    (b) will it be too much to work and study for the exams? I am beginning to look for possible jobs in Hong Kong now although have been told that I should expect to work hard. I'm just wondering if it'll be too much to work and study and if it would be a better option to get a job after I've sat the exams.

    I had seen that someone had mentioned trying to do a course through Lexomnibus to help study for the exams which I'm looking into but it'd still be great to get some feedback on the questions raised above.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


  2. #2

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    You should definately come to HK! Legal services market is booming. If you have more than 5 years local experience, you will only need to do 1 exam to qualify locally. However, many firms will just hire you as a "registered foreign lawyer" so you can actually work for them without a local admission.

    Also, there are many in-house legal jobs available, again with no need for admission locally.


  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by randy1:
    You should definately come to HK! Legal services market is booming. If you have more than 5 years local experience, you will only need to do 1 exam to qualify locally. However, many firms will just hire you as a "registered foreign lawyer" so you can actually work for them without a local admission.

    Also, there are many in-house legal jobs available, again with no need for admission locally.
    I would say, yes the market is strong, but only if you speak chinese.

  4. #4

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    I disagree - the big money in HK is all with the foreign firms. Most legal work in HK is done in English. The top firms in HK are all UK and US firms. If you want to work in China, yes then Chinese language would be an advantage. For HK, its the legal skills you bring that matter most, not whether you can speak Chinese, and for most fields local language is not needed.


  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by randy1:
    I disagree - the big money in HK is all with the foreign firms. Most legal work in HK is done in English. The top firms in HK are all UK and US firms. If you want to work in China, yes then Chinese language would be an advantage. For HK, its the legal skills you bring that matter most, not whether you can speak Chinese, and for most fields local language is not needed.
    Have you looked at the legal market in HK recently? Have you read any of the recent market updates and salary surveys?

  6. #6

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    Yes. The lastest I saw was from Robert Walters, a legal recruitment firm.


  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by randy1:
    Yes. The lastest I saw was from Robert Walters, a legal recruitment firm.
    In that case I suggest you read the salary survey again.

  8. #8

    Thanks everyone for your feedback, I really appreciate it!

    I've had a look at the Robert Walters survey - thank you for pointing me in that direction. I am definately keen!

    I have been working in a commercial law firm for the past 2 years since I was admitted in 2009. I am however really keen to move into litigation. Taking this into account, would most firms be happy taking me on as a foreign lawyer only or would they prefer I had sat the Overseas Lawyers Qualification Exams?

    From what you've mentioned below it doesn't seem like it's that pertinent for me to sit the exams?


  9. #9

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    Here is the survey randy1 and pin were referring to. I would tend to say that language skills are of some importance. I don't know why randy1 read it differently.

    Commerce & Industry:
    Legal professionals with English, Mandarin and Cantonese language skills were particularly sought-after. Lawyers with between 3-5 years’ and 10+ years’ PQE were in high demand.
    Financial Services:
    …there was a high demand for professionals specialising in equity and credit derivatives, DCM/ECM, funds, wealth management, corporate IPO and employment. Lawyers at the 2-5years’ PQE level who were fluent in Mandarin were particularly sought-after in these areas.
    Private Practice:
    Because of the heavy volume of IPO listings, we saw strong demand for corporate specialists in this area with 2-5years’ PQE and strong Mandarin language skills.
    Outlook for 2011:
    As in 2010, companies will seek candidates possessing local experience and Mandarin language speaking skills.

    Edit: Link http://www.robertwalters.com/resourc...urvey_2011.pdf
    Last edited by Claire ex-ax; 14-03-2011 at 03:29 PM.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by agriffin:
    Thanks everyone for your feedback, I really appreciate it!

    I've had a look at the Robert Walters survey - thank you for pointing me in that direction. I am definately keen!

    I have been working in a commercial law firm for the past 2 years since I was admitted in 2009. I am however really keen to move into litigation. Taking this into account, would most firms be happy taking me on as a foreign lawyer only or would they prefer I had sat the Overseas Lawyers Qualification Exams?

    From what you've mentioned below it doesn't seem like it's that pertinent for me to sit the exams?
    Hmm, litigation will be tricky, especially with the language issue, and the fact that you are quite junior.

    Not trying to put you off, but I'm about 5.5 year PQE with solid experience in my field and I've sat the OLQE. Even that won't help me because of the language issue (at present anyway). I really want to move jobs but without language skills I'm finding it pretty hard.

    BTW as you qualified in 2009 I don't think you'll meet the 5 year legal experience requirement and would have to sit most of the OLQE heads. I was lucky in that I only had to sit property and even then that was 4 months of very hard studying. I also took a course run by LexOmnibus (which I paid for). The courses are not cheap.

    I suggest you come out here and find a job as a registered foreign lawyer (which many people do) and then get your firm to pay for your OLQE and course fees.

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