Cristovao Ngai studied the GDL and graduated from ULaw Birmingham campus in 2007. He is now a partner at successful Hong Kong law firm, P.C. Woo. We caught up with Cristovao to discuss his time with us and how that set him up for a successful career in Hong Kong.
My first degree is in Marketing. I have always wanted a playful and flexible career which requires creative thinking. Also, my father and other family members are very successful lawyers. However, it goes without saying that legal knowledge is of utmost importance even in our daily lives. So, no matter what your career is in the future, one should at least possess basic legal knowledge and I have proved this time and time again.
My father studied at the College of Law back in the old days and he knows the school well. I had a challenging time during my first semester, not only due to the transition from another field of study and moving from Liverpool to Birmingham, but because of an awful landlord who I had to deal with simultaneously. Fortunately, I was able to seek legal advice from my tutor then. Looking back on those days now, it was not really that bad. It made me learn to handle matters independently and that was when I began to develop my interests in checking contract law and land law.
It is known that every lawyer should possess in-depth legal knowledge and as a commercial lawyer, it is of paramount importance to understand our clients’ needs. Having commercial awareness is the key. We need to understand the business environment within which a law firm and its clients operate. Lawyers are master creators and inventors on one hand, and clever and skilled reproducers, duplicators and modifiers on the other. We are there to provide legal advice which helps client meet those needs. I enjoy being able to advise clients on transactions and how to succeed in resolving issues.
The UK legal system has long been established and has influenced legal systems all around the world. The qualifications that I obtained are recognised all around the world. International students who study law in the UK find that they gain a much deeper understanding of the law and culture in the UK. No matter where you decide to work once you’ve graduated, either in the UK or back home, you’ll have learned vital skills that you can take with you as you embark on your career.
Working as a partner at P.C. Woo specialising in the banking and money lending sector is very challenging. I work with a team of associates and legal professionals and I play an important role in the team. My responsibilities are to lead and supervise my peers making sure that everyone works well and efficiently together; and to manage budgets and monitor performance against goals. It is the norm that we do get random urgent meetings and receive clients’ calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Nevertheless, I do enjoy my work.
I am very pleased that our firm has been able to grow in the money lending industry. This industry has become a niche area especially since there have been stricter regulations governing licensed money lenders in Hong Kong in the past few years.
Our firm is also honoured to be able to represent numerous clients, being some of the largest money lenders and other participants in the lending market, in complicated money lending transactions and to specialise in this area of practice. Working in the money lending industry has really widened my views.
It is also interesting to see the rapid growth of the number of existing market participants investing in online lending platforms. The rise of online lending could be another niche area in the near future.
My number one piece of advice to anyone thinking of studying law is studying hard is a must, but also to study smart and in the right way.
It’s not all just law for me; every one of my friends knows that I have a passion for music. I had participated in various singing competitions throughout my university life and I was dreaming of pursuing a career in music. I had a chance to sign a live performance contract as well as an artist contract with a television company after all those competitions. I was thankful that everyone supported me in my endeavors. However, I had managed to review the contracts with my then very limited legal knowledge and turned down the offer and thereafter made the decision to enter into the legal profession.
If you’re inspired by Cristovao’s journey, follow in his footsteps and study the GDL with us.