Words for Mentees (3): Choosing career and being a lawyer

Most people spend more time working than sleeping. If it’s bad to spend 8 hours to sleep in an uncomfortable bed, it’s even worse to spend more than 8 hours doing something you hate. You can only last long and excel in a career that you actually enjoy and are good at.

The legal profession is generally divided into two streams: barrister and solicitor.

Barristers are advocates at court and specialise in litigation. To become a barrister, after studying PCLL, you have to complete one year of pupilage at a chamber. Pupils do not receive salary and are only allowed limited practice after six months of pupilage. Once you complete the pupilage, you have to pay your own rent for an office space in a  chamber. Barristers are self-employed and it can be financially burdensome. To alleviate this, the Bar Association has funds to assist prospective barristers; and more sizeable chambers may offer rental discount to new joiners. Alternatively, you can join the Department of Justice as a legal trainee (barrister) who gets a monthly salary.

To become a solicitor, you have to be a trainee for two years at a law firm or the Department of Justice. The type of work and remuneration package depends very much on the law firm you join. International law firms specialising in corporate and banking law tend to recruit the best graduates and offer the highest salary. In comparison, the more common general practice law firms provide legal service such as conveyancing, divorce and litigation. The starting salary of international law firms can be 4-8 times more than general practice law firms.

The legal profession can be a long term one. As you practise longer, you specialise in certain areas and find your interest and niche. For example, there are barristers who specialise in criminal cases or judicial review, solicitors who do merger and acquisitions in China. It is not uncommon to move from barrister to solicitor and vice versa too.

For career prospect, barristers can become senior counsel. Within a law firm, the top of the ladder is to become a partner. Many experienced lawyers may become in-house counsel in banks and companies that tend to offer more work-life balance.

What it takes to be a good lawyer? There are many perceived traits of a typical lawyer – smart, quick thinker, organised, eloquent, and argumentative. I think different
types of lawyer require very different personality and skill set. However, above all, the most important is to be hardworking to succeed.

I recommend reading Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In”. It may help students to look farther and deeper into long term career development.


Related posts:

  1. Words for Mentees (2): Choosing subject and studying law If you study law, you don’t have to be a lawyer; but if you don’t study law, you can’t be...
  2. Words for Mentees (1): While at school The secondary school I went to runs a mentorship programme. Past students from all walks of life mentor current Form...
  3. 非洲我來也(7):Choosing safari Kenya的safari tourism非常之developed,有無數個tour operator任君選擇。要找合適的旅行社,首先要決定自己的budget and style。 同樣是去safari看同一班動物,行程大同小異,但價錢可以相差六七倍。分別就在於high end or low end。High end safari travels from Nairobi to Masai Mara National Park...
  4. Happy at work (3):重返律師樓 Update一下我的近況:現在我在一間律師樓上班,又做番以前一路做開的企業融資律師工作。去年胆粗粗一心想試下不同類型的工作,就開始幫人證婚。過了一段悠閒的日子,有個朋友十萬火急要找人去她的law firm幫手,我就join了她的law firm,不經不覺都做了幾個月了。機緣際遇,我真的没有想過會重返律師樓。因為是為了幫朋友(當然亦有很大部份上班的誘因是我十分之enjoy見到出糧戶口的credit entry!),所以一開始就約法三章,我要maintain work life balance,不要OT,不要weekend上班,讓我可以繼續做我喜歡的證婚工作和放假去旅行。於是我就為自己創造了一個很多人眼中的理想工作環境。我覺得自己很幸運,這樣的機會不是每一個人都可以擁有。 我不會忘記人生每一日都應該好好珍惜,好好享受。過程(日日上班)和結果(出糧)同樣重要。昨日聽到一個準新娘說,她希望可以快點完成婚禮,之後就有時間調整和享受人生。我不明白點解要為籌備婚禮咁stressful,不是應該好好enjoy每一刻的preparation嗎?結婚是一世人一次,當然想盡善盡美。但是為了一天完美的大婚之日而忘記了享受整個籌備的過程,令自己受很多個月的stress,是不是有點本末倒置呢?...
  5. Overtime 超時工作 結婚註冊儀式延遲開始是慣常事,但我不可以因為有delay的可能而遲到,結果就經常坐在場地等等等。很明白婚禮有很多moving parts,大部分人都是第一次攪婚禮,缺乏經驗,不曉得控制時間。與人相處建基於互相尊重,相信大多數人都有基本禮貌和時間觀念,不會固意延誤。因此我會盡量遷就耐心等待,但有時wedding之後約了人的話,就變相浪費了他們的時間一齊等。 有些人在booking時或在結婚當日發現要delay時,會問我overtime收費。我一向都不charge for overtime, 不想太市儈, 因為覺得結婚是開心事,我無謂增加新人的壓力。但是去得多wedding,就發現實在等得太多太耐,我都正在考慮是否有需要set overtime charge。講明超時收費,起碼可以避免有些人take it for granted,任得人白等,浪費律師和所有準時到場觀禮的客人的時間。經驗顯示,我試過去一個有特定時間要求的婚禮,講明每超時15分鐘就加收多少費用,結果那次成為我史上最準時的婚禮。 今日去證婚,呆等了一個鐘頭。一路等一路覺得自己戇居,那裡有律師免費白坐一個鐘頭?雖然超過約定時間那麼久,加上他們連事先電話通知我遲點到場都沒有,我覺得我有權自行離開,不見證他們的婚禮,但我又不忍心這樣做。太心軟, I wasted one hour of my life....

Comments are closed.