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Job opportunities within the legal industry in HK

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  1. #31

    Join Date
    May 2009
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    108
    Quote Originally Posted by AmyKYLeung:
    Dear MarthaK

    Many thanks for your detailed response.

    It is nice to finally have someone say to me that being a native English speaker is an advantage. I have taken on board what you have said with regard to having good Chinese language skills. I am currently learning how to speak Mandarin through self study (I have an audio CD and a book). I learnt Mandarin at college and passed the oral examination, but it was only an enrichment activity and when I went to university, I stopped learning as I was also working part time to fund my studies.

    Does your firm only correspond in English or is there still a percentage of the work which is carried out in Chinese? I grew up in a family orientated by business, so I understand the importance of having a good rapport with clients/customers.

    I presume your juniors are born in Hong Kong and therefore may not be confident when speaking with the English clients?

    When you say juniors, are they paralegals? What kind of academic qualifications have they obtained, are they law graduates or have they also undertaken the PCLL? Do you mind if I ask you what kind of salary juniors are on?

    Is your firm an international firm? As you are working in a law firm, I wonder if you could shed light as to whether there are many firms offering positions of Trainee Solicitor. And if the answer is yes, are they recruiting for the current year or two years in advance?

    I will have to take the PCLL for a year, there are more than 3 exams. The 3 exams I referred to earlier is the conversion exams which I must take in order to take the PCLL. I have completed the UK’s equivalent of the PCLL which is called the LPC, however, as I am not getting much luck in securing a training contract over here, I am starting to look at alternative options.

    Ideally, I do not want to join a big international law firm as I don’t want to be another number within that firm. I want to join a small or medium sized firm. I will take a look at the Roll On Friday site and see what answers I can find on there.

    That is another thing, I am not too sure what I would like to specialise in, but as per the electives I chose during my final year of the law degree and the LPC, I want to go into private client work. I enjoyed employment, family and wills type of work. I also thoroughly enjoyed studying criminal during my first year at university.

    I am currently working with the property department of a medium sized firm in my hometown and have gained a considerable amount of experience in terms of legal knowledge and ways to interact with clients.

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks, Amy

    Amy, I'll send you a PM over the weekend.
    AmyKYLeung likes this.

  2. #32

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    Sep 2010
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    If you would have to do civil and criminal procedure papers for the OLQE then I don't see how you can get exemption from the CCP papers required to be taken for the PCLL conversion stage.

    Indeed, the OLQE is for experienced lawyers and if they can't get exemption then how would someone fresh out of law school or paralegal work be able to?


  3. #33

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    Aug 2011
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    United Kingdom
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    MarthaK - Thanks, I look forward to hearing from you.

    Blue88 - I did not say that I did not need to take the civil and criminal procedure papers. I said that I was pretty sure I would be exempt, but I also said that I would have to submit an exemption form to know 100% if I had to take these papers.

    For your information, if you have been reading what I have written, then you would know that I have taken UK's equivalent of the PCLL. In the UK, it is known as the LPC. HK used to follow UK law and in many respects, it still continues to follow the UK law, and therefore subjects I have studied on the LPC, like the civil and criminal units, I have already been examined on the civil and criminal procedure. However, as per my previous posts, until I submit my exemption form, I will not know which exams I will have to take in order to be accepted on the PCLL.

    Just out of curiosity, are you in the legal profession or are you a student?

    Amy


  4. #34

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    Sep 2011
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    5

    Red face

    Hi Amy

    I've recently moved to HK from Australia and have just gone through the job hunting juggernaut here. Here are a few notes which you may find helpful:

    - Was told by a recruiter that Paralegals are offered max $30k p/m base salary + OT (if you work in IPOs this could potentially reach $45-50k p/m but you'd be expecting to work till well past midnight). This is at a US firm; UK firms could offer slightly less. HOWEVER, the good news is that it is quite easy to pass the Chinese screening test - I was at the same level in Chinese as you described yourself, and studied Mandarin with a private tutor for 4 months to reach an acceptable level of proficiency.

    - According to friends who are doing training contracts here, it seems that academic grades are less of a focus of the firms in HK than Mandarin/Cantonese skills and previous work experience, preferably with an Asian focus of course. If you are set on securing a TC here, it would definitely be advantageous for you to start learning Mandarin and skilling up with Asian deals (if not China/HK, then Singapore, Korea etc. are also good for your C.V. and the interview)

    - If you are currently working in the UK and building up your PQE, it is possible for you to transfer to HK with 1-2 years PQE and skip the PCLL process entirely by taking the "foreign lawyer" route (with possible supervision requirement if under 2 years PQE). Most UK/US firms can recruit up to 50% foreign lawyers who don't practise HK law but can do legal work esp. in corporate, banking, etc. Some firms will require you to pass the OLQE to practise HK law e.g. if you work in litigation. The HK Law Society site provides some general info on how to practise in HK as a foreign lawyer The Law Society of Hong Kong

    - Re your concern about law firm size, most of the reputable local HK based firms are quite large in size and are unlikely to offer a great package. However, I would suggest that you look at some of the UK/US firms that have smaller scale operations in HK - this website is a good start to your research The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2010/2011 > Hong Kong - The Clients Guide to the best Law firms, top Lawyers, Attorneys, Advocates, Solicitors and Barristers in Hong Kong

    Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!

    klaudia1 likes this.

  5. #35

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    Aug 2011
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    Hi ats08

    Thank you for your advice.

    How long have you been in HK? Can I ask you the reason why you moved to HK? Did you secure a job in HK before moving or did you move to HK and then started to look for a job? What is the job market like in HK at the moment, is it quite difficult to find a job or is it more a case of knowing people?

    The paralegal wages are quite similar to the wages paid in England (but in HK you pay less tax right?)

    What is your job role and what are your qualifications? I have not managed to secure a Training Contract yet in the UK, so I would have to take the PCLL if I decide to go back to HK in the near future. I have looked into the "Legal Executive" route - have you heard of that?

    Do you think it is best to approach firms direct to ask if they have Trainee Solicitor vacancies or is there a website which advertises all vacancies?

    I would love to hear from you.

    Thanks, Amy


  6. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by AmyKYLeung:
    Dear MarthaK



    Ideally, I do not want to join a big international law firm as I don�t want to be another number within that firm. I want to join a small or medium sized firm. I will take a look at the Roll On Friday site and see what answers I can find on there.



    Thanks, Amy

    Unless you are VERY sure you know what life is like in a big international firm and VERY sure that a small or medium sized firm is the kind of experience you'll love, stop thinking that way now. No matter how much paralegalling/work experience you've had, you will never truly understand the life of being a lawyer until you actually are one.

    Instead, choose the very best firm your grades and CV will allow you. If you are interested in the corporate / finance type of work, that means choose magic circle if you can. In a few years time when you're considering changing jobs, you'll want maximum options, and a magic circle name on your CV is that ticket.

    The job market is a tough place and there are very good lawyers (and bad ones) at all levels. No point having great experience at a small or medium sized firm if you don't even get the opportunity to sell yourself.

    I'm not saying these places are the best places to work. 60% of people can't wait to quit. But in terms of options later in your career, I cannot stress enough how much of an advantage it is to have a top name on your CV.
    Beanieskis likes this.

  7. #37

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    Kassinger

    Very good advice for a young graduate and it applies in many industries. Unfortunately the vast majority won't have the option, but it doesn't hurt to aim high.


  8. #38

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    Oct 2011
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    Kennedy Town
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    Hi Amy, sorry I didn't go through all the comments on your post..so If I'm saying something same as above..jus ignore it.

    Background : Indian qualified lawyer; studied Masters in Corporate & finance law in HKU (2008-2009); currently working for small local firm past 2 years; would be attempting entry for PCLL in Sept 2012; also preparing for conversation exams ( got like four subjects for me)

    Well...I didnt see you mention about your interest or specialization in law which would determine whether you would be need to be working for a big law firm or not and I notice that you aint interested in that but again if your interest or specialization are in corporate side, you have no option than look for a big law firms, coz small or medium size one don't handle any quality work.

    I guess before even deciding whether you should apply for PCLL in Hong Kong & worry about the job market, you should be thinking whether your desired specialization has any future or is it gonna give you a good exposure in Hong Kong. And again job market is the last thing to worry for a professional as goods ones are always in demand.

    There is been a trend from early 2000 that all law firms require their paralegal or solicitor to actually speak and write Manadrin as all major law firms are always keeping in mind those Mainland Chinese clients who bring their business to Hong Kong, they are a easy squeeze as lawyers in mainland are pretty bad ( no offense). My current employer hired me on basis that I would learn mandarin but yea within a month my employer was convinced with my work and knew the language barrier won't affect my work, they instead gave me an assistant.

    So yea my point, just don't worry too much. If you have confidence that you gonna excel...a jurisdiction aint a issue for a lawyer, you can easily have things in your control.

    Its quite easy in Hong Kong to get a trainee solicitor contract in Hong Kong with a basic pay HK$ 30,000.00.

    Tip: If you wanna learn and excel; train under a solicitor who aint doing much or going to retire soon or just handling their regular clients. They would really teach you a lot and give you work, as they would like passing off tricks in the books and clients to you. Normally you won't get that in corporate law firms and you will need to learn things in the hard way.


    Cheers

    Last edited by Rjpirated; 20-10-2011 at 09:40 AM.
    klaudia1 likes this.

  9. #39

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    Aug 2009
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    I think &assinger gave some sensible advice. Names count particularly wh(e startting out. Yyou should jump at any opportunity which will initially position yourself with the broadest range of options and then youwill have the luxury ofcho9ie. Also whilst it is often true that big fiirm culture sux this is not necessarily tru for you. Do not take som'one elses experiences @asgspel. You need to experience it for yourself before making a* deision whether the career path iis right for you.


  10. #40

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    Oct 2011
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    Kennedy Town
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarthaK:
    Amy

    I work in the HK office of an English litigation-biased firm. I also agree that it is extremely important to have good Chinese language skills. We do not take on non-Chinese speaking trainees any more. However, one skill that you do have that would be very much appreciated by the HK office of an English firm is your native-level English. In litigation I'd say that 65% of what we do is in English and a lot of our clients are on London. Where the Chinese comes in useful is in interviewing witnesses and reading documentary evidence, but we also need people who can draft well-written inter-partes correspondence and advice to clients in English. We also need people who can bond with our London clients; being British and having a bit of banter goes a very long way.

    We have several bright local juniors who have done their entire law degrees in English and who understand the law and procedure very well, but I still waste an awful lot of time ameding their drafts from Chinglish into something that the London clients will consider acceptable. They are also far too quiet with the clients. Your native level English, combined with fluent spoken Canto and as much Mandarin as you can learn may counteract the deficiency in written Chinese. I have a newly-qualified colleague with exactly your profile.

    A note about qualification: I don't know much about the PCLL but if you only have to do three subjects then it won't be that onerous, so sounds like a good idea to come here and spend a year doing that while working on your Chinese at the same time. (You could always come back to England afterwards- don't forget there are plenty of London firms who will also value Chinese language skills). A spell studying here will also give you a sense of whether you really want to live and work here permamently.

    However, if you qualify in England and then come to HK, you will have to do 4 papers on the OLQE (Conveyancing, Company law, accounts/professional conduct and civil/criminal procedure I think) before you can practise HK law. These are hard work, harder than the PCLL, expensive and very, very hard to combine with a full time job.

    However, if you qualify in England & Wales and then come to Hong Kong after you have got 4 years of practice behind you, you will get exempted from three of the four papers and just have to do conveyancing, which is harder but not impossible (I did this, as I am 10 yrs PQE). Look at the HK Law Society website for the very tedious detail. Some firms will take you for a couple of years as a Registered Foreign Lawyer but it depends on what you can offer them.

    If you want a training contract at an international firm in HK, there are not all that many of them, so the best approach may be to do a lot of internet research and then contact each firm individually - for English firms speak to the graduate recruitment officers in London as well as contacting the HK offices direct - they may train in London but offer opportunities to spend time in HK. If you are going to contact partners directly, make sure you have a decent idea about the firm's practice areas. Ask around on Roll On Friday. See if you can get in contact with any current PCLL students in Hong Kong.

    A final thought - have you decided what area you want to specialise in? I started off in corporate/banking and hated it. I was lucky to be able to change specialisms but not everyone is. If you want to do commerical litigation and can't get a TC I'd suggest you try to get claims work in an insurance broker or underwriter - they are the clients and law firms love to recruit people who know how the clients work.

    Hope that helps.
    This is what you should be reading.. Thanks Martha

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