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Job ideas for someone with a US law degree and a few years of litigation experience?

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  1. #1

    Job ideas for someone with a US law degree and a few years of litigation experience?

    I apologize if this subject has been asked many times before, but I am looking for ideas about what to do with my US law degree and two years of litigation work experience here in Hong Kong. For personal reasons, I need to relocate to Hong Kong and need to find a job here (with a work visa sponsor). I graduated from a top 10 US law school with good grades and have two years of litigation experience at a small but well-known firm. On the flip side, however, I cannot read or write Chinese, do not speak any Mandarin, and only know a small amount of Cantonese (not enough to work in the language).

    I have considered trying to apply for position as an expat lawyer here in Hong Kong, but am concerned that I don’t have any corporate law experience or Chinese language proficiency. Also, I am not super interested in the idea of doing corporate transactional work (which is why I went into litigation in the first place). Does anyone have any suggestions? Would it be best to vie for a foreign lawyer position in corporate law, try to get work as a paralegal, get locally certified, or find something not law-related?

    I am open to any positions, legal or non-legal (e.g., consulting, teaching, etc.), although obviously, the better the pay and work experience, the more attractive it would be. I have even considered teaching English here for a few years, although not sure how easy it would be to get those kinds of positions given my background (or whether that would harm my prospects of going back into legal practice later). Any idea on what kind of work I could do here in Hong Kong?

    Thanks in advance for your help!


  2. #2

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    Whatever you decide would be a lot easier if you marry the "personal reason" and get a Dependant Visa...


  3. #3

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    There are a number of international firms in HK that do US litigation/regulatory work. Think FCPA, OFAC, OECD, etc. They do hire US-educated litigators and no corporate work is involved. Chinese may be useful, but not as critical as in corporate. Seek out the relevant partners and apply directly. Good luck.

    HKnewarrival likes this.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gruntfuttock:
    Whatever you decide would be a lot easier if you marry the "personal reason" and get a Dependant Visa...
    The OP speaks cantonese. I would assume the personal reason is filial (as opposed to romantic).

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by HKnewarrival:
    I apologize if this subject has been asked many times before, but I am looking for ideas about what to do with my US law degree and two years of litigation work experience here in Hong Kong. For personal reasons, I need to relocate to Hong Kong and need to find a job here (with a work visa sponsor). I graduated from a top 10 US law school with good grades and have two years of litigation experience at a small but well-known firm. On the flip side, however, I cannot read or write Chinese, do not speak any Mandarin, and only know a small amount of Cantonese (not enough to work in the language).
    I have considered trying to apply for position as an expat lawyer here in Hong Kong, but am concerned that I don’t have any corporate law experience or Chinese language proficiency. Also, I am not super interested in the idea of doing corporate transactional work (which is why I went into litigation in the first place). Does anyone have any suggestions? Would it be best to vie for a foreign lawyer position in corporate law, try to get work as a paralegal, get locally certified, or find something not law-related?
    I am open to any positions, legal or non-legal (e.g., consulting, teaching, etc.), although obviously, the better the pay and work experience, the more attractive it would be. I have even considered teaching English here for a few years, although not sure how easy it would be to get those kinds of positions given my background (or whether that would harm my prospects of going back into legal practice later). Any idea on what kind of work I could do here in Hong Kong?
    Thanks in advance for your help!
    Well I don't think foreign lawyers are restricted to only coporate work (although that is the field where most expat lawyers work in admittedly). You said you do litigation? What kind? Tort? Contract? Criminal defence? Maybe there might be an opportunity for you in the trans-national litigation area, but don't know how many such cases exist.

    Also, if you don't want to practice as a foreign lawyer you can consider trying to pass the licensing exam to become a qualified local solicitor or barrister (but good luck with that, the failure rate for that exam is like 90%, last time I'm told). Alternatively, you can do the long process to qualify as a local attorney (part-time LLB and then PCLL). In the mean-time, you can consider working in another field. Once you become a local barrister or solicitor, there are restrictions on what other job you can take, but prior to that there is only one main limitation I think. (If I'm not mistaken, the local legal practionier code forbades lawyers engaging in personal conduct that would bring their profession into disrepute, whatever the hell that means). So yes, with that caveat in mind, short of offering legal advice, you can do pretty much anything you want in HK while in the process of obtaining the license to practice.

    Don't know if you'll really enjoy working in a local law firm however, most of the local lawyers I deal with are all SOBs.
    Last edited by Watercooler; 16-05-2013 at 09:46 AM.
    HKnewarrival likes this.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Watercooler:
    Also, if you don't want to practice as a foreign lawyer you can consider trying to pass the licensing exam to become a qualified local solicitor or barrister (but good luck with that, the failure rate for that exam is like 90%, last time I'm told).
    Everything the OP needs to know about qualifying in HK as an Overseas Lawyer can be found here. According to a well-known private course provider in HK, the pass rates for the OLQE exams have ranged from 50% to 90%, depending on the exam and the year (for their own students, 71% to 94%). Most experienced foreign lawyers who qualify via OLQE need only take one exam (Conveyancing), but those with less than five years relevant experience may need to take additional exams in Commercial and Company Law, Accounts and Professional Conduct, Civil and Criminal Procedure and Principles of Common Law. (Exemptions are available for all of the above, but very few people would qualify for an exemption from the Conveyancing exam.)

    Having recently gone through this nightmare of a process myself I am convinced that it is mainly designed to prepare lawyers to survive in the nonsensically bureaucratic HK legal world--law has almost nothing to do with it!
    Watercooler and HKnewarrival like this.

  7. #7

    Thanks for all the advice. Unfortunately, a dependent visa through marriage is not an option, nor do I otherwise qualify for an HK ID through birthright, etc.

    My work experience has been in general commercial litigation (mostly domestic contract disputes), although I’d be interested in trying other areas of law. I’ll take a look at firms that do FCPA or other US litigation/regulatory work to see if there are some good leads.

    Thanks for the link to the information on foreign v. overseas lawyers. It certain looks like a long, drawn-out process! I don’t know how long I will need to be here in Hong Kong, but likely 3-5 years, so I don’t know if it makes sense for me to immediately initiate the process of becoming locally qualified, unless I learn that I am going to be here longer than that.

    If there are any other leads or suggestions, they would be much appreciated!


  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by HKnewarrival:
    Thanks for all the advice. Unfortunately, a dependent visa through marriage is not an option, nor do I otherwise qualify for an HK ID through birthright, etc.

    My work experience has been in general commercial litigation (mostly domestic contract disputes), although I’d be interested in trying other areas of law. I’ll take a look at firms that do FCPA or other US litigation/regulatory work to see if there are some good leads.

    Thanks for the link to the information on foreign v. overseas lawyers. It certain looks like a long, drawn-out process! I don’t know how long I will need to be here in Hong Kong, but likely 3-5 years, so I don’t know if it makes sense for me to immediately initiate the process of becoming locally qualified, unless I learn that I am going to be here longer than that.

    If there are any other leads or suggestions, they would be much appreciated!
    Just wondering whether you have found a suitable position yet. I am in the same boat coming from Australia however I have a HK ID Card...

  9. #9

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    Not sure if your interests/background fit this, but if they do - try the SFC and international banks, particularly the broker-dealers. There's a constant demand for legal and compliance staff in the finance industry.


  10. #10

    Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions. After lots of searching, I've decided to take a non-legal job. It'll be a big change, but the industry is interesting, the hours aren't nearly as bad as Big Law, and the pay is fairly good. I'm looking forward to starting soon. Good luck to everyone who is job hunting!