“If you go to Oxbridge law, you can come back to Hong Kong and start working in 3 to 4 years, but you are restricted to a training contract. There is no guarantee of a good i-firm training contract with a Oxbridge BA anymore. If you are good enough for a BCL, you can try to make it in the bar.
If you can get into Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale or Princeton (in that order), your options are wide open. You can always become a lawyer. It is just a matter if you can afford 3 more years of school.
The value of education is in decline generally. But, this does not apply to Harvard and MIT. The fact that the value of education is declining everywhere makes Harvard and MIT that much more valuable. They are like holding gold bars during quantitative easing. I would not go to Oxbridge law if I have an option at Harvard or MIT.”
“You always choose Harvard over Oxbridge unless you want to be a barrister in Hong Kong. They are still loyal to tradition. For everything else one can do in life, Harvard is always the best.”
“Private legal practice in Hong Kong is getting more and more competitive, as the number of law graduates keeps increasing, but job vacancies do not increase proportionately.
If you choose to become a solicitor and land a training contract at an international firm, you will probably start earning about 50k per month, and 70-80k upon qualifying as associate. However, it is not as glamourous as you think, due to the long hours and overwhelming work. You would be at the mercy of unreasonable clients and bosses who expect you to deliver immediately. More importantly, you need to be able to bill enough to justify your increasing salary. In the long run (say after 10 years), you should have a book of clients to become promoted as partner, otherwise you will have to leave and seek alternative careers eg in-house counsel, government. Even if you make partner, you would have to continue raking in business to feed the juniors (and yourself), and avoid being forced to leave the firm due to power struggles with other partners. Of course, if you become a star practitioner in your field, you can make millions a month (but that will take at least about 10-15 years).
If you become a barrister, it is even tougher, because it is no secret that there is not enough work at the Bar to feed all young barristers. Many top Ox-bridge graduates join the Bar and so you will have to compete with the trim of the crop to succeed. If you can join the top chambers eg Temple, DVC, you should be able to survive.. but whether you can become SC depends on your ability and luck… the potential return is high, as the top barristers can earn millions a month, but you probably need to toll for at least about 15 years to reach the top.
If you do not have the financial pressure to feed your family upon graduation, you may consider the top US universities and do internships at different companies, law firms, chambers to get a glimpse of the work, and understand what you really want to do first…
Good luck :)”
“Your problem can probably be split into two questions.
1. Whether to do law at university
2. Whether it is a good option to practice law
I would first address Q1. From how you described yourself, I’ll say your attributes suit the study of law. Argumentative power, logical deliberation and manipulation of language are the key of the completion of a law degree, from my experience. One more thing to add, with a law degree from oxbridge, with reasonable grades and interview skills, you would be able to land a job at the top magic circle firms or embark on the career path of a barrister at one of the top chambers (e.g. temple or DVC)
As to the second Question – the career prospect of a lawyer. For your reference, international law firms nowadays are offering their trainee solicitors $40K-$50K per month, depending on the firm. While most graduates earn $13000 per month, lawyering appears to be quite a glamorous and sensible option. But of course, lawyers are professional service providers, this nature dictates that lawyers would invariably never earn more than front line division in i banks (I heard the starting salary can be $70000 per month). But you just consider whether it suits you to work as a banker – whether you can or are willing to handle immense stress on a daily basis, whether you can live your life enduring answering your corporate phone 24/7. Most importantly, frontline bankers have targets to meet, major ibanks have ambitious targets and the failure to meet then can mean your are packing your bag in a few months’ time.
Last but not least, there is probably no harm for you to do a LLB first. Graduating with a law degree does not mean you can’t try other things. Quite on the contrary, except certain professions, you can virtually try everything! LLB in my view would be a good training to ones core abilities (analysis, research skills etc). If you decide to enter the banker field after LLB so to say, you can always do a masters degree in finance or business or take exams such as CPA or CFA. ”
“It really depends on what you want. I’m biased towards the US system because I think the liberal arts system is better than the UK system, which is more “profession” oriented. Liberal arts allow you to explore the world and yourself, which can really shape your core values. However, if you are the money oriented type, perhaps the UK system suits you more. One more thing, it’s much more difficult to get a job in the USA if you are a foreign student on visa. It doesn’t matter whether you are from Harvard or not. If you intend to go back to HK to work, then either one should be fine. Personally I have a great time in the USA – l can do and explore whatever I’m interested in. Finally, congrats! P.S. if your US choice is majoring in liberal arts in MIT, choosing the UK might be a better option. Employers do know the differences.
仲有，揀選時學校既環境/文化合適與否好重要，cuz it can make or break your experience。坦白講，career prospect應該係最後先去諗既一環。如果你覺得career prospect係最重要既話，美國大學偏向唔係咁適合你。”
“如果唔做law，唔創業， 係咪只係得金融業可以揀？^ a moment of sadness that even elite students like you think this way ….
Follow your interest. The bloody truth is way too many people have told me they have taken the “wrong” career path (with their hindsight) for the pursuit of prestige… what I want you to know is that fame and money will follow once you have established yourself as one of the top performers in your industry. And the most effective way to maximise the probability of such an outcome is to spend lots and lots and lots of time doing something you are genuinely interested in.
Have you ever considered Computer Sciences or Engineering? Although you said you are not best in maths but as long as you are interested, it should be fine. In the next 10-20 years CS and Engin will lead you to considerably more opportunities than a degree in Law/Business (think about AI, automation, robotics, blockchain etc.)
In short, I would put Ivy League above Oxbridge EXCEPT Cambridge Maths and Oxford PPA (you know the reason). Good luck. ”
“I am not that positive regarding the prospects of studying and practicing law in HK. I will divides my comments into 2 parts: (1) legal study and (2) legal practice.
It is extremely competitive among overseas graduates to get a PCLL seat. Local universities retain most of the seats for their own students. It is not a must for a Oxbridge student to get a PCLL seat. Plus, you have to do PCLL conversion exams within 3 years. The Law Society is going to implement the common exam in 2021. God knows how low the passing rate will be and how it will change the whole legal education system. Another factor is the nature of legal study – tremendous workload as a result of statutes and case law. You basically have no work life balance if you have to secure decent grades and a PCLL seat.
Getting a trainee contract in an international law firm or top chambers is not as easy as what the above readers said. It is extremely difficult given the importance of connections, backgrounds and academic performances in this industry. So ideally you may earn 40k when you graduate. But for most of the cases, even graduates from Cambridge or LSE start their legal career in local firms and earn 20 to 30k per month. Of course they earn more when they qualify but the point is lawyers nowadays do not easily earn as much as the above readers said. Besides money, the working hours is long. You are right in saying that lawyering demands energy but does not yields as much benefits. Thus, I recommend the US route if money is not a concern.”
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