Chris Aukland is the managing director of specialist recruitment agency Ambition and is responsible for the growth and management of the Hong Kong business. He has 15 years’ consulting experience in the UK and Asia.
Getting back into the workforce
Due to marriage, family and relocation, I have not been in the workforce for almost 10 years. I graduated with a law degree in 2000 and worked in the field for a few years before having to relocate. What are my chances of getting back into the field after being away for so long? Can I still get back into the legal field? I don't speak any Cantonese or Mandarin.
Christopher Aukland - Career Doctor
Posted Friday 1st March 2013 11:06:00 PM
The legal profession is intensely competitive in Hong Kong so although it is not impossible you need to be aware that, most likely, it will be very challenging to re-enter the legal industry workforce after having been out of the market for more than 10 years. Without knowing your exact qualifications and experience it is difficult to say how possible this will be for you, but if you are really committed to getting back into the workforce then you need to be willing to start almost from scratch and be prepared to persevere and work exceptionally hard. Firstly, to become admitted as a solicitor in Hong Kong you need to be a law degree holder (LLB or JD), complete the PCLL and then a two year training contract with a law firm. Without obtaining the PCLL qualification you could consider being a paralegal. Job titles can vary from paralegal, legal assistant or legal executive, depending on your level of seniority. Age is not the most critical factor but relevant recent legal experience is very important to organisations when they are considering taking on potential candidates. At an entry level, most law firms will look for candidates with Chinese language skills combined with recent and local working knowledge who are willing to put in a significant volume of hours and do routine, entry level work. You will therefore most likely be competing with newly qualified graduates with the necessary language skills who are more than willing to put in the work and hours to get to the top. Given the steps involved, I suggest you evaluate exactly what you want to achieve by re-entering the work force and discuss this with your peer group, seek out professional opinions on the various options and then set yourself realistic goals and targets to aim for. If you remain committed then I would suggest networking extensively as well as considering taking additional legal related courses in Hong Kong, and apply for legal support roles to get a foot back in the market. It is never too late to start your career journey so best of luck!