Make the Move - Working as a lawyer in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong is regarded by many as the main business gateway to China. Hong Kong has been an attractive destination for many Australian lawyers, due to its proximity to Australia and its accessibility. In terms of experience working in Hong Kong, gives Australian lawyers to work on some of the world’s largest deals and matters.

The Hong Kong legal market is ever changing, similar to many of the most significant legal centres in the world. Most international firms in the region are localised, meaning that they are eligible and practice Hong Kong law allowing them to provide a full service offering. Keeping a close eye on the US firms who are continuing to grow in the region, some US firms aren’t actually localised and instead focus on US securities law and international cross border transactions. The US firms tend to be a lot leaner in practice size.

Mandarin and Cantonese language skills are highly desired by firms based in Hong Kong however it is very practice and role dependant on whether it is a pre-requisite. For example, if the hiring partner does not have language skills it becomes crucial for that particular hire to be able to speak Mandarin or Cantonese at a business level.

There are many benefits of working as an overseas lawyer in Hong Kong. Gaining invaluable experience on billion dollar deals and high profile litigation/arbitration matters is a big drawcard for many lawyers looking to further develop in their chosen area of specialisation however it is very important you consider your options carefully as opportunities are very practice dependant. For example, a stellar australian capital markets senior associate who has been working at the one firm his whole career may find it difficult to secure a role in Hong with a leading US firm as partners may find their experience in Australian capital markets as too attenuated.The practice areas which are consistently in demand in Hong Kong are :

  • Corporate
  • Funds
  • Banking and Finance
  • Projects and Project Finance
  • Construction
  • Disputes/International Arbitration
  • Restructuring and Insolvency

Cost of Living

According to Hong Kong is 7% more expensive than Sydney


Taxation in Hong Kong also makes it a very attractive location for Australian lawyers. Taxation levels are very low and are capped at 16% much lower than Australian tax rates. In addition to this, most firms will structure your remuneration in a way that you can deduct rent from your taxable salary as to reduce your tax bill.


Hong Kong has hot, humid summers (31 degrees) and very mild, dry winters (18 degrees).


You are also well placed to travel throughout Asia and Australasia, discovering the jungles of Cambodia, the beaches of Phuket, the wonders of China, or the urban megalopolis that is Tokyo city.

Five fun facts about Hong Kong

  • Hong Kong may be famous for its towering skyscrapers but 40 percent of the territory is actually country park and nature reserve. Hiking the green trails is a favourite weekend pastime.
  • Dim sum originated here in southern China and means “touch the heart”. These tiny bites of goodness were created as snack food for travellers and today are an essential part of local culture.
  • Hong Kong International Airport is the same size as 20 soccer field
  • A foodie paradise, Hong Kong has one of the highest numbers of restaurants or cafes per capita and is also the place to score the cheapest Michelin-starred food on the planet. Go eat!
  • Don’t worry if you find your apartment building is without a fourth floor. Numerical fun facts – omitting the number four is common because four sounds like the word “death” in Chinese and is considered unlucky. Conversely, lucky eight means wealth.