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Programme Aims and Features
The Bachelor of Laws (LLB) offers an education in fundamental legal concepts and subjects, as well as a wider liberal-arts education. In 2004-05, the LLB became a four-year programme, in line with recommendations made by government-appointed consultants. Under the 2012 curriculum reform, the LLB remains as a 4-year progrmme. The four-year LLB provides students with greater opportunities to address the following challenges:
- Acquiring a solid foundation in legal knowledge, transferable critical and analytical skills, and broadening of intellectual horizons
- Developing a high level of language proficiency
- Preparing for vocational training in the new skill-based PCLL
- Understanding globalisation and the changing international scene
- Understanding the close interaction between the systems of China and Hong Kong
- Developing maturity
The LLB comprises a professional core which equip students with a solid foundation in legal knowledge, and elective courses which allow students exposure to the broader context in which the law operates. Students will have the opportunity to obtain a minor in a non-law area, or to obtain specialization in a specific area of law. In addition to our 4-year LLB, students may also consider choosing to study on the newly launched 4-Year Dual Degree Programme in Laws (the Programme) which is jointly offered with the Faculty of Laws of University College London (UCL). The Programme will enable graduates to obtain two LLBs from two top-ranking law schools in the world (HKULLB and UCLLLB), and open paths to legal qualifications in both jurisdictions. Students will spend the first two years at UCL and the following two years at HKU.
Applicants who are interested in applying for this Programme are required to apply to the Faculty of Law directly.
To practise law in Hong Kong, LLB graduates must pass the Postgraduate Certificate in Laws (PCLL), a one-year full-time or two-year part-time course taught by the Faculty of Law at HKU or other universities Thereafter, to become a solicitor a graduate must spend two years as a trainee solicitor in a law firm, or in the Department of Justice, while prospective barristers must undertake 12 months of pupillage. Admission to the PCLL offered by the Faculty of Law is open to law graduates from the University and other approved universities and similar institutions in Hong Kong, and also to and holders of other recognised law qualifications acceptable to the PCLL providers who can demonstrate competence in the required core subjects. Admission is competitive: the selection criteria include the standard and origin of the applicant's first degree in law.
The LLB degree has also been recognised by professional bodies and universities overseas. The Law Society of England accepts it for exemptions from Part 1 of the Common Professional Examination, and exemptions may also be granted from certain papers in Part 1 of the Bar Final Examinations in England. Law graduates of the University regularly go on to study for higher degrees at prestigious universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, London and Stanford.
Hong Kong is a fascinating, stimulating environment for the study and practice of law because of its position as an international centre of trade and finance. Under the Basic Law, the existing law of Hong Kong will remain fundamentally unchanged for 50 years from 1997, which means that the Common Law, based on the English system, continues to apply. Hong Kong lawyers are playing a larger role in the modernisation of China, as well as in the constitutional and legal questions associated with the change of sovereignty – so Chinese law is also relevant. International trade and humanitarian law are becoming increasingly important, too.
Many graduates of the Faculty of Law are now serving the Hong Kong community as solicitors, barristers, magistrates and judges, corporate counsel and government lawyers. Others are teaching law in Hong Kong's three law schools. Our alumni have served as chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association, Permanent Judge of the Court of Appeal and Judges of the High Court. Many have also been appointed Senior Counsel or joined the governing bodies of the legal profession in Hong Kong, the Bar Council of the Hong Kong Bar Association and the Council of the Law Society of Hong Kong.
Faculty graduates can also be found pursuing a wide range of careers that at first sight might seem to have little to do with law. Some of our graduates become senior figures serving the business sector, political leaders, chairpersons of statutory bodies, and senior civil servants and journalists.