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Set the bar high if you wish for a legal career

Published on Friday, 18 Jan 2013
Christopher Aukland

Is there any chance for me to become an in-house legal adviser? I have just finished my LLB, though I have no legal experience. Should I apply for the position of paralegal or would my chances be greater as a legal assistant? Another concern is that I’m 39 years old. Am I too old to start work as a legal assistant? What other qualifications should I have? Ivy

It’s never too late to begin your career journey. The legal profession in Hong Kong, however, is intensely competitive.

To gain a position as an in-house legal adviser, you would generally need to become a qualified lawyer. To become admitted as a solicitor in Hong Kong, you would need to be a law degree holder (LLB or JD) and complete the PCLL and then a two-year training contract with a law firm. You also typically need to graduate with a 2.1law degree to get into a PCLL programme.

Without obtaining the PCLL qualification, you can consider being a paralegal working in-house, with job roles including paralegal, legal assistant, legal executive or even legal manager, depending on your level of seniority.

Age is not the most critical factor as relevant legal experience is more important and a role as a paralegal or legal assistant is the easiest way to gain this. Your options would be to work either in a law firm or an in-house role, though generally law firms are more open to less-experienced candidates.

Alternatively, we have also seen candidates working as a legal secretary or PA in an in-house environment or law firm, then gradually moving into a paralegal role. This, though, is highly dependent on the individual candidate’s drive to become a paralegal and the quality of work delivered to their superiors.

Christopher Aukland is Regional Director of Michael Page and Page Personnel in Hong Kong. Michael Page and Page Personnel are part of PageGroup, one of the world’s leading  recruitment companies, with operations in 164 offices in 34 countries worldwide.

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