The maritime legal sector in Hong Kong requires talent from various professional fields, including solicitors, barristers (litigation lawyers), legal executives, corporate legal advisers, marine managers, arbitrators, and mediators. Among these professionals, maritime solicitors and litigation lawyers (barristers) are particularly important.
To become a maritime solicitor, one must first obtain a bachelor’s degree in law from a university or have equivalent qualification (such as holding a bachelor’s degree in fields other than law, and has completed the Common Professional Examination programme and passed the examination). After that, he or she should complete the 1-year Postgraduate Certificate in Laws (PCLL) or equivalent overseas courses recognised in Hong Kong. Having passed the examination, he or she should serve as a trainee solicitor in a shipping law firm to receive two years of practical training. After completing the training and admitted as a solicitor to the High Court of Hong Kong, he or she will be qualified for practice.
To become a maritime barrister, one should complete the PCLL or equivalent overseas courses recognised in Hong Kong, and then serve as a pupil barrister at a barristers’ chambers which specifically deals with cases in relation to maritime law, or undertake pupillage to receive a year of practical training with an experienced practising barrister who specialises in maritime law. During the training period, one should engage in the handling of maritime law cases as much as possible.
As maritime law firms need sea-going professionals and relevant technical expertise, some of the lawyers therein are also qualified officers on board vessels. Experienced maritime solicitors and barristers may become judges of the Admiralty Court under the Court of First Instance of the High Court in Hong Kong.