“Reflections of My Life”

This 1969 hit song by pop rock band “The Marmalade” (from Scotland, as am I) causes some reflection, as my family and I prepare to return to life in London.

The song is about (among other things) reflection and change. Given my family’s pending voyage home, it seems a good time to reflect on my time in the legal profession here and to pass something on.

A decision by a foreign lawyer to qualify in Hong Kong should not be made lightly.

The OLQE (Overseas Lawyers Qualification Examination) is a real test of industry and nerve. The process of admission is not easy. It may not get any easier.

That said, Hong Kong remains an open market for those willing to commit and who put in the effort. By comparison, as a foreign lawyer, try qualifying locally in (for example) Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing, Dubai or Mumbai.

Despite a lower salaries tax rate, costs savings for an average family in Hong Kong are often illusory. This is largely explained by property and rent prices and school fees.

The legal profession is also very different now to what it was (for example) pre-1997. Increasingly, Hong Kong looks to China, the Pearl River Delta and the ASEAN markets for business, growth and innovation; and then there is the “Belt & Road”.

More change is coming. For example, solicitor incorporations and other alternative business structures. There will inevitably be consolidation in the local market. Some who do not adapt may not survive.

IT will dictate further huge changes in all business sectors over the next five or so years. Office life will become very different.

In my few years in Hong Kong there have also been significant social and economic changes. These are likely to increase and be reflected in the professions.

“Millennials” entering the legal profession (or other professions) will find it very different to those who went before them. In some respects, it will be harder. They need to engage. The role of the Young Solicitors’ Group and the “YSG CONNECTED” programme (and “mentors”) has never been more important.

Dual-qualification as a lawyer is worth having and striving for. It stays with you. I intend to keep my Hong Kong practising certificate. As my family and I ready to depart from Hong Kong and arrive in London, some of the lines from the song stay with me:

“The greetings of people in trouble…

… Take me back to my own home…”


RPC, Solicitor (E&W and Hong Kong)