“I want to go back to University and get a law degree”

Changing paths:

Law as a Second Career

Route to Practicing Law in Hong Kong as a Solicitor or Barrister
Obtain the JD in 24 Months (full-time) or 42 Months (part-time)
The JD is a Qualifying Degree for Admission to the PCLL
Global Learning Environment with International Experts in Their Fields
Fully Equipped Teaching Facilities Conveniently Located in Central
Professional Guidance for Career Preparation and Development
Numerous Merit - based Scholarships and Prizes

Changing careers is a big decision. The idea of leaving an existing career path to go back to school to start a new profession is likely to be just as daunting as it is exciting. There are many things to consider, such as balancing additional schooling with work-life commitments, investing additional time and costs to obtain legal qualifications and entering a highly competitive legal job market.

On the other hand, there are also significant benefits for those who pursue law as a second career. Often, second career lawyers are able to bring substantial working experience from a different field which adds value to their legal practice. Since law reaches into all areas of society, those with past working experience often find that they have many transferrable skills which may give them an edge over their competitors. Those who come to law as a second career will find that a law degree opens up a wide range of career options. Beyond the traditional path of practicing as a solicitor or barrister, there are many other attractive opportunities such as joining the private sector as in-house lawyer, the civil service or other regulatory agencies.

Many of those who have decided to pursue law as a second career have chosen to join the CUHK LAW Juris Doctor (JD) programme.

The CUHK LAW JD programme is a postgraduate qualifying law degree, which is well suited for anybody willing to switch to law as a second career. Students normally complete the JD in 24 months (full-time mode) or 42 months (part-time mode).

Why LAW as a second career?

Find out why our JD students with backgrounds in aviation, banking, engineering, finance, medical, psychology, and other non-law areas decided to study at CUHK LAW.


CHIU Kin Cheung Timothy

JD (2020), PCLL (2021)
Microbiology and Immunology; Psychology; Banking and Finance

Having graduated with a major in Microbiology & Immunology and a minor in Psychology, CHIU Kin Cheung Timothy chose banking as his first career. He worked in sales and trading for over 10 years and also became a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder.

After staying in the same job for an extended period, Timothy felt that he had to get out of his comfort zone and do something different which was challenging and intellectually stimulating, so he made the decision to apply to CUHK LAW.

Timothy initially studied the JD as a part-time student. Realising that he was ready to take the leap of faith into law, he decided to pursue the JD degree full-time. Timothy is now studying the PCLL at CUHK LAW.

“I do believe that for people who are contemplating switching career but are worried about giving up their job, the part-time JD programme is the way to go, As part-time students, they can assess whether law is suitable for them while keeping their jobs before they make a decision to fully commit themselves in pursuing law as a career,” he says.

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Clinical Psychology

LEE Hoi Ching Vanessa

JD (2020), PCLL (2021)
Psychology; Psychiatric Research

LEE Hoi Ching Vanessa graduated from St. Paul’s Co-educational College in 2012 and obtained her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University College London in 2015. After returning to Hong Kong, she decided to explore career options in mental health. She spent a few years working in psychiatric research, as well as in psychological services.

Vanessa finally decided to pursue a legal career. She completed the JD programme at CUHK LAW believing that a career in law comes with a very “promising professional ladder”, one that she described will be “very fulfilling to climb”. Vanessa is now studying the PCLL at CUHK LAW.

“The decision to move on from psychology, a discipline that I love so dearly, was not an easy one. Looking back, I do not regret anything,” she says.

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Andrew LAU

JD (2016), PCLL (2017)
Journalist; Barrister

Andrew LAU enrolled in the part-time JD programme at CUHK LAW back in 2012 when he was working as a TV journalist. Upon completion of the JD programme in 2016, Andrew left his job and studied for CUHK LAW PCLL full-time, after which he began his second career as a barrister.

“Because I had so much fun being a journalist, I didn’t study law with the intention of becoming a lawyer,” Andrew says. “In fact, I enrolled in the JD programme because I thought learning about the law would help me report on legal issues, and perhaps avoid embarrassing myself on live TV by misunderstanding court judgements.”

A few years into his job as a journalist, Andrew began to consider turning to law as a second career. “At the time, I noticed an increasing number of public law cases. People were increasingly resorting to our courts for social justice and for social change. I wanted to be part of it. I wanted to become a lawyer to help maintain the balance between the interests of the individual and the society, and I thought my background in journalism would put me in a good position to do that,” he says.

Leaving the security of a full-time job for a life of uncertainty as a self-employed barrister was a hard decision to make. “Yes, the work is tough,” Andrew says, “but at the same time it’s incredibly rewarding. Nothing beats the feeling of winning a long and complicated case, or even securing acquittals for my clients.”

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KO Ching Xavier

JD (2023)

KO Ching Xavier is in the second year of his part-time JD programme at CUHK LAW. As a pharmacist by training he is currently working in a global pharmaceutical company.

Xavier thinks that studying law is challenging, especially for people who need to work because they will have to spare three nights a week to attend the lectures and also spend the rest of the week to do the readings.  However, he is convinced that it was the right decision for him to take up part-time JD studies.

“I think the JD programme has surely broadened my horizon beyond my expertise as a medical professional, that I have not only enriched myself with technical knowledge of the law, but I have also trained up my logical thinking and reasoning skills that I think are also important in a lot of daily work that I am engaged in,”  he says.

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Real Estate Management Trainee

LEE Kwan Yee Rachel

JD (2021)
International Business and Economics; Finance and Real Estate

LEE Kwan Yee Rachel obtained her undergraduate degree in the United States where she majored in International Business with a minor in Economics. With an original intention to pursue a business-related career, Rachel did various internships in finance and real estate.

Rachel thinks that a business degree could open the doors to limitless career opportunities, but it also lacks specialisation. She finally made the decision to study law as she felt that the legal profession is more focused and ties in well with her business background.

Rachel made her application to CUHK LAW during a gap year after graduating from college during which she interned at a barrister chambers and a legal NGO and that experience has solidified her interest in law and gave her practical legal work experience.

“I gravitated towards CUHK LAW JD programme specifically because I personally enjoy the dynamics of larger classes. There are more opportunities to interact with people from diverse disciplines. In the past year, through group projects, tutorials, study groups, I was able to engage with and learn from many of my peers. The JD at CUHK LAW is a great place to start building a professional career,” she says.

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Social work

YU Wan Suen Melody

JD (2021)
Business Administration; Social Work; Civil Service

YU Wan Suen Melody is a part-time JD student at CUHK LAW. Prior to her JD study, Melody obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Master of Social Science in Social Work. After graduating from her first degree, Melody worked in the business sector and then joined the Hong Kong SAR Government as an Executive Officer. After entering the workforce, Melody realised the importance of legal knowledge in daily life and at work. Therefore, she decided to join CUHK LAW JD programme for her personal development and to explore the possibility of using professional legal knowledge to help anyone in need.

Balancing law school and full-time job is not easy, as many other part-timers share. “I know it may sound cliché, but time management is always the key,” she says.

Pursuing a second career is certainly a big move, especially when Melody already had a relatively established career. But she finally decided to go for CUHK LAW JD programme. “The teaching staff at CUHK not only helped me get prepared for my future legal practice, they also gave me a lot of advice and encouragement when I was at the crossroads of career choice. They are not only my teachers, some of them are also friends of mine. I truly appreciate it,” she says.

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LAW Sze Yeung Dave

JD (2022)
Quantitative Finance; Aviation

LAW Sze Yeung Dave is a current part-time JD student at CUHK LAW. With a first degree in Finance, he chose aviation as his first career and became a pilot.

What prompted Dave’s shift to the world of law? “At first it was a desire to pursue knowledge and to seek intellectual stimulation that encouraged me to study law,” he says. As he progressed along the way, Dave found that legal thinking is not only extremely intellectually rewarding but is also the basis of the practice of law that impacts people’s lives for the better. “It is this unique aspect of law that makes it an inspiring second career choice for me,” he explains.

Dave was appealed by the flexibility of CUHK LAW JD programme when he decided to study law part-time. “The study length and sequence are modifiable which allows me to fit my study around my job very well. The faculty is also supportive to my study in maintaining that flexibility,” he says.

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Public sector

LEI Wai Hei Sharon

JD (2019), PCLL (2020)
Government and Public Administration; Civil Servant; Trainee Solicitor

LEI Wai Hei Sharon completed her first degree in Government and Public Administration at CUHK. After graduation she joined the Hong Kong SAR Government as an Executive Officer.

Sharon reckoned that it is important for every member of the society to have a good understanding of the law. So she did not apply for the JD just because she wanted to be a lawyer, but to enrich her legal knowledge which she deemed useful in everyday life.

“Luckily, CUHK LAW offered the part-time JD programme which was like a genie fulfilling my wishes – it allowed me to start exploring the legal world while keeping my salary, to make sure that it would be an informed decision if I decide to quit my job to pursue a legal career.”

Sharon believes that for anyone who wants to start and develop a new career in a field, it is always better to do it younger than older. “So the perfect timing for taking the first step is now because today is the youngest day we’ll ever be,” she says.

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Project Finance Banker

LUK Chun Kit Adrian

JD (2020), PCLL (2021)
Engineering; Banking and Finance

LUK Chun Kit Adrian studied Operations Research for his undergraduate degree. After graduation Adrian pursued a career path in project finance in banking. He structured loans for project companies, which were often newly setup companies with little assets and no cash flow, but had entered into valuable contracts with great promise for future cash flow.

Adrian decided that it was the right time to change career after having worked in the bank for 5 years.

It was difficult for Adrian to leave his old job and to embark on a JD programme because, at that time, he did not know whether he could become a lawyer after graduation given the “extremely competitive” legal market in Hong Kong. “However, I know that as we live in an increasingly complex world, many companies are looking to hire more legally trained personnel. I felt confident that the JD programme would enhance my marketability not only to law firms, but also to corporates.” Adrian chose the JD programme at CUHK LAW because “simply put, it is a great programme”, he says, “It is well recognised among law firms in Hong Kong. It has a world-class faculty. And importantly, it has a diverse body of students.”

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Medicine and Surgery

Bernard CHOW

JD (2021)
Medicine and Surgery; Public Health

Bernard CHOW is a medical doctor who graduated from CUHK’s Medical School in 2018. He worked as a doctor in the Hospital Authority and practised primary care medicine in the private sector. Bernard decided to study law as “learning about another profession’s mode of thought would be highly beneficial to expand one’s vantage point. This is particularly true for me as I want to pursue a career in Psychiatry, and Psychiatrists work closely with the law”.

Bernard started his full-time JD studies right after completing his Houseman year and attaining his full practising licence as a medical doctor. He said it was a perfect time for him to step out and to acquire new knowledge from another field “as it would be highly complementary to my further speciality training down the road”.    

“CUHK LAW JD is a very unique programme in Hong Kong in the sense that it allows a lot of flexibility for students to achieve their own personal goals,” he says.

Join Us – We are CUHK LAW!

Join Us – We are CUHK LAW!