I know I said the last post under this title was the last of them, but this addendum is related. Some time ago, I was asked by a friend (more an acquaintance) to help with his friend’s daughter, a newly qualified NY lawyer with some career advice here in HK.
I did not know much about this young lady, but she sent me a resume in advance. She got her law education in Australia and then went onto take and pass the NY Bar Exam. She also was working on getting some other certifications in financial accounting that are not terribly easy too – so clearly she is an expert on test-taking.
Unfortunately, she had very limited work experience in the legal world. She had two short internships, as I recall, one at a major Chinese law firm, but other than that – nothing. She was a HKer but not interested in going through the process I described (the conversion exams, PCLL, and training contract). But without 2 years’ experience, she would not be able to take the OLQE.
She asked if I could somehow manage to give her a “job” at my firm, where she did not need a salary for the two years so that she could get “experience.”
I immediately expressed skepticism. At the time I did not think my firm was set up for any inexperienced employees (this was at my last job, where we were ourselves very new to Hong Kong), and it would have been hard to give work to someone like her. Also, when a foreign lawyer with under 2 year’s experience is registered to work in HK, she needs to have someone take a special undertaking to supervise her work. It’s just a technicality that isn’t so hard, but still something to consider.
Finally, I told her that even if she gets those two yeras of so-called experience from us, takes and passes the OLQE, finding a “real” job might be really tough without more substantive experience. Even if she learned a lot from us, the firm only did US litigation – and that might not be very useful for a very junior lawyer in Hong Kong.
I strove to advise her that there’s no such thing as a shortcut, and that it was in her best interest to go through with the hard work to get the good experience she would need to become competitive, otherwise, all her test-taking really was still all a waste! She also had youth to her advantage, and from the sounds of it, did not need to worry about money – so why not?
She didn’t seem to like my advice and moved on. Based on my educated guess, she came from money and connections that could potentially find someone else to give her what she wanted. Wherever she is, I wish her the best, but I think that when it comes to a career in law, no matter which jurisdiction you are in, hard work and passion are unavoidably necessary ingredients.