The Making of a Professional
After finishing her LLB at CUHK, Jessica Chu will study in the PCLL progarmme and get one step closer to a career in law. She is already given a training contract at a Magic Circle international commercial law firm (Magic Circle is a term to describe five leading international law firms headquartered in the UK) where she will work as a trainee solicitor for two years.
As Jessica recalled, she became interested in studying law because it has applications in almost every facet of daily life, and which affects our everyday decisions and interactions with people in society. She also wanted to study a challenging and intellectually stimulating subject, and law is a great way to sharpen one’s critical thinking, analytical skills, and language ability.
Jessica wasn’t disappointed. The Bachelor of Laws (LLB) programme at CUHK, according to her, ‘is very much anchored in daily life and in tune with current affairs. It allowed me to understand the broader context behind social issues and helped me develop my own perspective towards such issues.’
The extent of legal training at CUHK is indeed far and wide. LLB Students may choose from a range of clinical courses including the Refugee Assistance Clinic and the Public Advocacy Interest Clinic, which place students with partner NGOs in Hong Kong where they are supervised by expert lawyers to aid clients in need. Or they may try the FinTech ‘incubator’ clinic run in partnership with CUHK Business School, where they would work alongside business students to develop their start-ups.
Jessica recalled, ‘My favourite part of the learning experience was the ability to utilize my knowledge outside the classroom. For example, I joined the New Ventures Legal Team, a student-led group supervised by full-time faculty members, which provides startup companies with legal knowledge at the CUHK Pi-Centre. Throughout the year, we hosted legal workshops, created a glossary and summary of common contract terms, prepared to launch a legal blog, and acted as a contact point for individual startup firms.’
CUHK’s LLB programme was first established in 2006, but already it has established itself as the foremost undergraduate programme in local legal education. Prof. Stuart Andrew Hargreaves, Assistant Dean (Undergraduate Studies) and LLB Programme Director, said, ‘From the beginning, we have been recruiting students with exceptional linguistic, logical and critical thinking abilities, and a collaborative personality and intellectual curiosity. Each year we admit 79 new students and the Faculty of Law offers exchange scholarships to those with the best public exam results.’
Jessica said: ‘The law students are a closely knit, cohesive and friendly community. It is very easy to meet friends through joining the various student groups such as the Undergraduate Law Society and the Mooting Society. We also have sport teams such as the LLB Football and Basketball teams, which compete with teams from other LLB programmes in Hong Kong.’
While the study of law may be old, its teaching methods are innovative and evolving, particularly at CUHK. E-learning techniques including flipped classrooms, online wiki’s, mobile phone chat groups, podcasts, and guest lectures via Skype are utilized to enable the students to find a learning style that works well for them.
Another distinctive feature is their mooting success. Professor Hargreaves explained, ‘Mooting is a competitive form of legal debate in which teams from our Faculty compete with teams from around the world. Our students receive coaching in both written and oral argument from the faculty members throughout an entire semester before competing in a competition.’ Jessica herself had represented CUHK at a mooting competition in Singapore, which simulated a court trial where she had to orally defend a client in front of opposing counsel and a panel of judges. Professor Hargreaves continued, ‘Our mooting teams have won a variety of awards in international mooting competitions, such as the Philip C Jessup Moot Competition, Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Moot, and Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot. Our success is due to the collaborative efforts of students, coach, faculty members and the support of the Faculty.’
The Summer Study Abroard Programme (SSAP) is a credit-bearing law elective course in collaboration with Tsinghua University, the University of Sydney, and Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. SSAP is intended to encourage LLB students to learn not only about the law and the legal systems of Hong Kong, but also to experience a broad and diverse legal education and gain exposure to different cultures and legal systems. Other exchange partners of the Faculty include: Bocconi University, Maastricht University, the University of Sheffield, The University of Auckland, the Law School of Peking University, the Law School of Tsinghua University, East China University of Political Science and Law, and the College of Law at National Taiwan University. Some subjects completed on an exchange programme may be counted towards the fulfillment of the LLB degree.
During her four years at CUHK, Jessica had studied law subjects at the University of Cambridge, the University of Sydney, and the China University of Political Science and Law through exchange and study abroad programmes. She said, ‘Not only have these enhanced my academic experience through studying at top institutions in different continents, but they have also broadened my horizons through immersing myself in different cultures and learning to live independently overseas.’
The Faculty of Law has a dedicated Office of Career Planning and Professionalism, led by the internationally renowned litigator Mr. Paul Mitchard QC, which provides LLB students with up-to-date information on law firms and internship and other employment opportunities. It also provides students with guidance on job applications, CV preparation and other resources designed to ensure that students are fully informed and equipped for preparing for and entering into what today is a challenging job market.
Like her other classmates, Jessica was a beneficiary of these career resources which secured for her internships such as those at two Magic Circle law firms in Hong Kong, a government internship abroad in Australia, and one at a US Congresswoman’s district office this summer. She reflected, ‘I particularly appreciate their Distinguished Mentorship Programme, which connected me to a practicing solicitor who offered me my first legal internship, and made it easier for me to kick-start my portfolio as I had no prior connection in the legal sector.’
Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2018