Tips for Overseas Lawyers Who Wish to Move to Hong Kong

by Annie Tang in Articles

DatePosted on April 20, 2022 at 11:30 AM
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Over the years, many lawyers and other professionals have moved countries regardless of whether they have already secured a job or not in the hope of either advancing their careers and/or for personal reasons. This may sound like a risky, unknown or even scary prospect to some, however, there are many others (including myself) who have already trodden down this unknown path to Hong Kong and subsequently made it our home.

Hong Kong is a melting pot reflected not only in its diversity of people and richness in culture but also in the industries operating here and encompasses an amazing blend of city, beach and nature all within close proximity. Hong Kong is also renowned for its convenience to travel around Asia or globally (outside of pandemic times!). This island which populates less people than in the city of London continues to attract people to keep coming here for both social and career/business opportunities.

Hong Kong night view

In fact, one of the most frequent enquiries we receive from overseas lawyers (working in either private practice or in-house) is regarding how they can relocate to Hong Kong to work. Here are some tips:

  • Internal Transfer: this is by the far the best route since many expatriate lawyers working in Hong Kong relocated from their original office to Hong Kong. If your current company does not have an office in Hong Kong, consider joining a company in your home country that has international transfer opportunities or is part of an international network or association
  • Broaden Your Experience: raise your hand when there is opportunity to gain Asia Pacific ("APAC") including Hong Kong experience. If your job scope includes Hong Kong and/or APAC coverage, your prospects of moving to Hong Kong are higher than if your experience has just been covering your domestic country.
  • Networking: it really is who you know sometimes. Network with anyone and everyone including business leaders, entrepreneurs and HR professionals. Ask your friends and relatives and ex-colleagues for leads and introductions and work with specialised legal recruitment companies.
  • Research: apply for jobs through online job boards and social media. If you are set on moving to Hong Kong, consider your immigration/visa requirements, housing costs and tax liabilities as well as schooling and language/technical skills or qualification requirements before taking the plunge! Do some research on law firms who may have practice areas covering overseas jurisdictions (for eg, some firms may have Korean or Indian practices).
  • Be open minded and persistent: if Hong Kong has less jobs available due to Chinese language requirements, explore roles in other countries and follow the same tips above and maybe your journey will bring you to Hong Kong further down the line.
  • Flexibility: if it is near impossible to move into a legal role from your home country, then you could consider a change of career or leveraging off your other skills. For eg, if you are an M&A lawyer with insurance experience, is there a chance to move in to an underwriting role or if you are a part-time law lecturer, are there opportunities to lecture at the universities in Hong Kong, or if you are an employment lawyer, are there prospects to move in to an employee relations (HR) role?

Let me know if you have any other tips and I can update the above list. Best of luck and please look me up when you relocate here!


This article can also be found on LinkedIn, posted on 13 May 2022. 


About the Author

Annie Tang

Annie is a co-Managing Director of Star Anise, focusing on in-house legal roles. She is a former practising Hong Kong lawyer and a mother of two.

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