More than a year from start to finish, fighting paperwork and intricacies of a bureacracy I’d never grow accustomed to, I finally got admitted as a solicitor to the High Court of Hong Kong in June! About a week before my admission date I received a letter via “government service” addressing me as Madame Solicitor — tres fancy! It was exciting. The letter simply confirmed no objection to my admission from the Department of Justice, and then I had the formality of ticking off whether I’d be swearing or affirming.
On the special day, which was rather bright and breezy, I arrived with legal dress in hand, ready with my mover, who also happened to teach my OLQE prep course, and a small audience consisting of 3 of my colleagues from work. Once properly robed, I was directed to the jury box, which we were told normally accommodates 7 was jam-packed that day with 13 ready applicants of multiple ages and nationalities.
In front of me was a simple instruction card reminding me to await my movant’s speech, then to head up to the solicitor’s roll, where I would read my affirmation or oath, signature, and then bow to the judge on my way back to my seat.
The High Court judge came dressed in his wig and festive red robes, only worn during celebratory occasions such as this one. He did an excellent job explaining the ceremony and was pretty witty as well.
Each mover spoke at least 10 minutes about his applicant (in some cases, one mover could move more than one application), where the applicant’s educational and professional background was described, as well as some interesting information about his or her personal history (in one applicant’s case, his penchant for costumes and karaoke skills was brought up!), some words of thanks, and a request that the applicant be admitted, having received no objection and having had his or her papers in order.
The judge often interjected with witty comments and questions, and ended the whole shebang with a speech of his own, which was time consumingly translated into Cantonese for any non-English speaking audience members.
The judge reminded us of our duties, and was so pleased to see many qualified new solicitors (though he was dismayed not to see any barristers getting admitted — I had no idea they were admitted through the same ceremony). I was also very impressed with my co-solicitors — some had incredibly impressive qualifications, many being preeminent leaders in their fields!
All in all it was a really meaningful day, much more grand than in New York, though there’s no doubt the First Department in New York is a beautiful court; and obviously way grander than the oath I read and signed before another NJ-admitted lawyer. There is something to the ceremony that makes me realize what a big thing this is, and I hope that I will get an opportunity to get to know Hong Kong law even more intimately in a future opportunity having gone through all this effort and expense.
Good luck to anyone else laboring to make it through this journey!