This is part 2 of my multi-part series on what it takes to qualify from scratch (i.e., not via the OLQE).
Next up is the PCLL – a one year (or two years, if doing it part-time) practical law study course that is only given by one of the 3 universities listed above. The first requirement is a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) or equivalent legal studies in either Hong Kong or another common law jurisdiction.
If you haven’t done that you can, in the alternative, take the Common Professional Examinations of Hong Kong or England and Wales (not a bad alternative for those who didn’t study law in college or are looking into a second career as a lawyer).
As of September 2008, the Hong Kong Standing Committee on Legal Education and Training requires PCLL applicants to demonstrate “competence” in 11 Core Subjects: Contract, Tort, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Land Law, Equity, Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, Evidence, Business Associations, and Commercial Law. OK – easy enough, since just about anyone who has a law degree probably can demonstrate such courses.
But wait – there’s more. The new rules also require demonstration of competence in three ‘Top-up’ subjects: Hong Kong Constitutional Law, Hong Kong Legal System and Hong Kong Land Law. This gives home field advantage to anyone from Hong Kong, but then what for everyone else? Fortunately there are yes – you guessed it – MORE EXAMS! You can enroll in courses and prepare for the Hong Kong Conversion Examinations! (Sounds a bit more like a money making scheme to me, though).
FINALLY – all applicants (including native English speakers) must take the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test (the Academic module) with a minimum standard of overall band score 7. The Department of Professional Legal Education considers that the candidate’s language ability as indicated in the Test Report Form is valid for only three years preceding the application deadline, i.e. for a 2013 application, the IELTS results cannot be earlier than 30 April 2010. No exemptions will be permitted.
Wow!! That is a lot of work, PLUS, there is no guarantee of admissions, as with so limited seats, not everyone can necessarily get one on the first application! CRAZY!
AND this is still not all that is required. Stay tuned for Part 3!