The Headlines

Never Too Late to Study Law

Pursuing law as second career with CUHK’s JD programme

Whenever I hang out with my friends these days, one of the most common topics we talk about is undoubtedly our careers—besides how we are faring in our current job, the conversation often travels back to our younger days, wondering where we would have been if we took a different path.

At one time, a high school friend of mine told me how he had always dreamed of becoming a lawyer, but his life took a turn and, one thing led to another, he ended up in a job that he is not passionate about. And so he asked me, ‘Is it too late for me to switch careers? Am I too old for law school?’

To tackle my friend’s dilemma, I asked him to take a step back and look at some of the life-changing decisions made by famous people around the world.

We see Giorgio Armani, who originally started out as a military medic and ended up a world-renowned fashion designer. We see Walt Disney, who first worked as a newspaper editor before becoming an animator and cartoon producer that everybody knows. And we see Pope Francis, head of the entire Catholic Church who actually worked as a nightclub bouncer prior to his religious career.

So here is my two cents’ worth: there is no such thing as ‘too late’ in life; if you have a passion for justice, why not give law school a try and chase your dream?

‘Changing careers is certainly a huge decision, and often there are plenty of considerations one has to take into account,’ said Elliot Fung, director of the Juris Doctor (JD) and JD-MBA programmes. ‘CUHK JD is designed specifically for someone who is looking to join the law as a second career. It is a postgraduate programme ideal for those who do not have law as their first degree.’

In terms of students’ occupational background, the JD programme at CUHK is one big melting pot—there are students working in civil service, banking, aviation, medicine and many other fields. ‘I chose to study at CUHK because I enjoy the dynamics of the classes it has to offer,’ said Rachel Lee, prospective student of the JD programme. ‘There are many opportunities for me to interact with people from diverse disciplines. It is a great place to start building a professional career.’

Studying law later in life does present several unique advantages. For one, law is a versatile and practical subject. Therefore, with previous job experience, students can have an upper hand in understanding legal scenarios and securing training positions in the legal market. ‘In this increasingly complex world we live in, many companies are looking for more professionally trained candidates. Combining my prior working skills and the knowledge I learnt from JD, I am confident that these altogether would boost my marketability not only to law firms, but also to the corporate world as well.’ said Adrian Luk, recent graduate of the JD programme.

Altering the course of your career is, indeed, a daunting experience. Besides the extra hours in studying and completing coursework assignments, leaving the security of the current job for uncertainty is also something that gives people a second thought before pursuing postgraduate education. ‘This decision is tough and yet incredibly rewarding,’ said Andrew Lau, who left his full-time job as a TV journalist and became a barrister after his studies at CUHK. ‘Nothing beats the feeling of winning a long and complicated case, or securing acquittals for my clients.’

Albert Einstein once said, ‘Never give up on what you really want to do.’ When it comes to hopes and dreams, never ever give them up. As a graduate of CUHK’s JD programme myself, take it from me: step out of your comfort zone, put a foot forward, and never settle for less.

For more information on why students decided to study at CUHK Law for their JD, you can visit the website.

By ronaldluk@cuhkcontents

JD programme law BBA(IBBA)-JD Double Degree Programme Faculty of Law