I have come to really appreciate my law qualification in Hong Kong, and feel blessed that I could get here through what was actually a relatively “easy” path (notwithstanding all my whinging over having to take two OLQE heads versus one!). It turns out that the “ordinary” pathway for one to become Hong Kong qualified is not just long and arduous, but fiercely competitive, as I’ve come to learn from speaking to the trainees and interns at my firm. Below are the basic steps and hurdles required for an inexperienced person to become a lawyer in Hong Kong, i.e., not the OLQE route.
1. Getting a Law Degree
First things first – getting your law degree is no easy feat in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, as with most former and current Commonwealth nations, the law degree is a bachelor’s degree, the LLB, and so you’re only just a teenager when you need to decide if you want to embark on this lengthy process. Only three universities offer law programs in the first place (Chinese U, HKU, and City U), and when you make your college application you must apply in the program you intend to take. I have been informed that the law class at HKU is only approximately 100 students. Changing majors later on is neither advisable nor guaranteed!
And to get to college itself is tough enough! There are only 8 colleges in HK overall (at least that are funded by the University Grants Committee – the advisory committee to the Government on university funding). It’s no joke that kids growing up in Hong Kong are stressed, as without starting at the right play group, let along the right pre-pre-school, you can forget about going to college at all! (I may be exaggerating, but education in Hong Kong is just insane – probably worth a follow-up post).
Given this, many Hong Kongers have no choice but to go abroad to get their LLB in law, a requirement for step 2.