Monthly Archives: July 2012

Olympic Coverage in Hong Kong – and Chinese Taipei?

The Olympics are on and I am pleased to say that Hong Kong worked out its controversial public television coverage issues such that two channels will show the Olympic games on tv for all to see, despite the time zone preventing us from watching the key events at decent hours (the opening ceremony aired at 4am!).

What I find interesting is that in Hong Kong there will be more coverage of all kinds of sports — and not just swimming and gymnastics.  Being an ex-fencer, I was thrilled to see this original Olympic sport featured on television.

But while I was excited to see television coverage of my normally overlooked sport (in America, that is), I noticed, the coverage was not of the top athletes, but rather was of the local athletes. 

Hong Kong actually has 42 athletes in 13 sports representing the SAR in this year’s games.   Sports not only include a few representatives in fencing, but also badminton (a no-brainer considering how popular it is in HK), archery, judo, shooting, even weightlifting, among others.  Given that Hong Kong will only compete in 13 sports, this might be why time is set aside for sports like fencing or shooting (which I saw each of on television last night).

Not only is special effort made to cover the local athletes of Hong Kong, but once their turns are done, there is some effort to feature other nearby Asian athletes, including China and a country represented by the letters “TPE”.

TPE? Isn’t that the airport code for Taipei? Why Taipei and not Taiwan?  Well I don’t exactly know the answer to that last question, but it turns out that since the civil war in China, the Republic of China, a/k/a Taiwan, is most commonly known in almost all sporting events as Chinese Taipei.

According to my ever-cited Wikipedia, both the ROC and PRC, it’s the one name that both countries (I’m calling Taiwan a country) can agree on using.  The usage of ROC, is confusing for fairly self-explanatory reasons and creates an obvious ambiguity concerning Taiwan’s political status.  But what’s wrong with calling yourself Taiwan?

Well the Chinese don’t like it because it connotes independence from PRC, whereas the Taiwanese apparently dislike it because it somehow suggests subordinance to the PRC!

In any case,  watch the public teleivison coverage of the Olympics in Hong Kong — you’ll get exposure to less popular sports and learn something about international relations!

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Q&A: OLQE Application Education Requirements

Here’s my second installment in answering reader questions.  JP (again) wrote:

For filling in the application form on educational background – did the ordinary US law school curriculum on Constitutional Law suffice for the part on “Equity” and “Constitutional and Administrative Law”?

Another good technical question that I too found difficult.  But relax – because you and I are not the only ones who thought this an odd one.  Perhaps this question makes more sense if you had a more typical Commonwealth law education, but for us Americans, we learn elements of Equity (torts, contracts, corporations, property, etc.) and Constitutional and Administrative Law (constitutional law, and then any variety of classes, including employment law, securities, etc.) in a variety of classes, and not a specific class.  So I asked this question directly to the Law Society and they were so kind to show me a redacted letter from my very law school suggesting just this regarding a prior aplicant.

How very useful!  So from there, I just forwarded this letter to my law school, and they prepared a fresh one for me.

So JP, and others facing this question, you can readily mock up a similar letter for your law school to sign to, or ask the Law Society for one such sample letter.  It seems so long as your law school verifies this notion, you are good to go.

Good luck!

The Five Gold Shop

My dragonboat colleagues were impressed with the gloves I’d gotten for practice. Like the ones provided by the firm, they were simple workman’s gloves, but mine had this amazing coating of rubber all across the palm – very useful for applying pressure to a wet wooden oar. I tried to explain that I had bought them at my local hardware store.

Hardware store? What’s that?

We were all fluent English speakers, and yet the term “hardware store” was unfamiliar.  And when you stop to think about it, the term “hardware” is a little odd, isn’t it?

I started explaining what you buy in a hardware store – tools, supplies, simple electronics, and then she said – “ah! you mean a 五金鋪!”

五金鋪 literally means a 5 gold shop. I tried to research the origins of this word, but to no avail. I did, however, find that there is a Chinese wikipedia page! Here’s the entry.

Anyway, these Chinese hardware shops are jam packed with stuff needed for home improvement.  But as noted in this Chinese wikipage, it doesn’t stock lumber or steel, and those sorts of things.

Writing Challenge FAIL!

Today marks 30 days since my promise to post a new entry for each day for 30 days.  Including THIS post, I only made it to 23!  I wish I could have met my challenge, and admit to failing quite badly, but I have to admit, 23/30 ain’t too bad, especially for a lazy blogger like me!

But I did learn some lessons. First, blogging is damn hard work, and I salute all of you who do it so regularly and make it look so effortless!  Second, I have noticed that I do have  a readership, and I hope that I can satisfy you.  Third, there are lots of interesting things to talk about on my “boring” subject of practicing law as an American in Hong Kong (well, this is what this blog has evolved into).

I am also happy to have just launched a Q&A column, where I plan to get my inspiration from you, dear readers.  I hope I do a good job and that more of you will ask more questions.

You Asked – I’m Answering! Seeking a Head IV Exemption

I have noticed a slowly increasing readership of my blog, but primarily for the purposes of following some of my practice pointers on becoming admitted in Hong Kong.  Many of you have asked me specific questions on my “About” page, and I have tried to answer some there.  But now I wonder if it might be useful to take some of those questions and answer them generally in individual posts.  Plus, it gets a bit cumbersome to scroll through all those Q&As on the About page.

So here goes my first such Q&A –

JP asked:

What sort of explanation you were able to use to obtain an exemption from Head IV (Accounts & Professional Conduct)? I have been a practicing corporate/commercial lawyer for the past 4.5 years and was toying with the idea of taking the QLQE next year. I’m hoping to be able to obtain the exemption for everything except for the Conveyancing Head.

At the time I did my aplpication, I had no guidance as to how to draft my exemptions letter.  I tried searching all over the internet for examples, but to no avail, so I hope that my advice here helps.

As to Head IV on Accounts & Professional Conduct, I kept it pretty simple. First, I cited all my reference letters, which I of course also drafted for my referrers, as evidence of my experience, knowledge and training generally. 

Then I attached copies of CLE certificates for all ethics related courses, and reminded the Law Society of my continual obligation to receive regular training on the subject.

And that was that! It doesn’t seem to be a head that mandates a high threshold to achieve an exemption, despite it being one of the harder heads to pass.  Or perhaps I was just extremely lucky. 

Anyone else able to write in on what worked for them?

And JP – good luck!  Do let me (and anyone else watching) know if this works for you too, and how things go generally!

HK Wealth and the Practice of Law

The extreme welath gap in Hong Kong and the insane concentration of wealth in Hong Kong is well known and not news, so I should have anticipated that when working for one of the better known litigation practices in Hong Kong, I’d come across lots of ultra wealthy clients.

Perhaps this is just one more perk of practicing in Hong Kong, since I can’t imagine ever being staffed on the kinds of cases I am now if I were practicing in New York.  Even if I were so lucky (or perhaps unlucky, depending on your perspective) to be working at the top litigation firms in New York, the chances of working for the likes of say Bill Gates or Warren Buffett are still close to nil.

I’ve had very wealthy clients before.  Your typical white collar defendant will be banking at least a mill or so a year, but the wealthy clients I deal with now are seriously above and beyond that, with net worths of up to billions USD!

What I have found, unfortunately, is that these are not easy clients to work with!  Something about the insanely wealthy just makes them, well, insane! They are very much used to getting their way, always being right, and having an army of yes-men around them.  This makes it really hard to advise them when navigating risky legal waters.

The other thing about the insanely rich — at least in Hong Kong — is that their lives are insane too!  These folks live dramas that are way better than anything you’ve seen on tv or the movies — wild kidnapping plots, tragic deaths, disappearing persons, fantastic murders, you name it – they live that!

So to all those who aspire to come to Hong Kong to become lawyers, get ready — it can definitely be the wildest ride you’ve ever had (as lawyers, at least)!

Finally a Favorite, But…

When a law student, you get to read lots of US Supreme Court (a/k/a “SCOTUS” – though I’ve always despised that acronym) cases, and you begin to pick your favorites — of course I always loved the ladies (Sandra and Ruth), definitely enjoyed many a Breyer opinion, as well as the hallowed Rehnquist.  So when I came to Hong Kong, I wanted a new favorite.  It took me some time to familiarize with cases, and I have to admit I am still far from knowing the “classics” in terms of opinions here, but I did finally find my favorite — the Honorable Mr. Justice Kemal Bokhary!

He is both brilliant and witty, and a true defender of human rights.  He is what we need in Hong Kong as we fight the Red Tide that is no doubt coming, but also all the while seeping in bit by bit every day since the handover. 

But alas,justas I got to know and love Justice Bokhary, I learn that he has reached the statutory retirement age, and despite there being discretion to permit those reaching such age to continue employment, he is forcibly being retired, only to make way for the elevation of who many legal community members would wholeheartedly agree is the entire opposite of everything Justice Bohkary stands for.

This is unfortunately, one of those ways that Red Tide seeps in.  But this was not going to be surprising, considering that Justice Bohkary stood up to Beijing when it usurped the Court of Final Appeal’s decision in a right to abode case.  Of course, he lost that one.   So for those who ask what one country, two systems means — well, it’s not quite what it’s advertised to be!

And trust me, no one is glad to see him go.  And what’s worse, the other two permanent CFA judges will similarly reach the age of 65 in the next two years, so those of you who can do the “math,” can you tell me what to expect?

I’m definitely bummed out, especially considering that one of my cases will be heard before the CFA come next Spring.  But alas, I won’t see my favorite in action.

For more interesting reading, check this article out.