Yunying Wei studied her GDL and LPC with The University of Law and has since gone on to become a trainee solicitor at the global law firm, Linklaters. We caught up with her to discuss what areas she’s worked in so far and how studying English law has helped her while working in Hong Kong where we have recently launched a new campus.
Coming from a non-common law background, I found it difficult to understand my LLM subjects in depth. This is because all the advanced legal subjects offered at the LLM programme are built on those core English law subjects, like contracts, tort and trusts. Therefore, I decided to study the GDL & LPC so that I can understand English law, apply English law principles and practice English law.
I am currently a trainee solicitor in the Disputes Resolution department at Linklaters. Last week, I worked with the finance team on fee updates, drafted some simple documents (to the court and to the other party), analysed evidence, checked the English translation of some People’s Republic of China (PRC) law provisions and reviewed amendments to the statement of case. My principal does all his conference calls on speaker and has been copying me in on all the emails, so I can keep up-to-date on all the correspondence to get myself up to speed.
I am still at an early stage of my career, but my plan is to make the most of my English law and PRC law background as well as the platform offered by Linklaters. During my role in Hong Kong, I am seeing many deals where we build on our London knowhow, adding Asia specific features and help our clients with the “firsts” in the Asia markets. I’m very proud to work on deals that have been awarded ‘deal of the year’ or ‘firsts’ in the market.
I applied for a training contract when I was doing the LLM. I attended the annual law fair and spoke with the graduate recruitment team, the trainees and the campus ambassador. I also attended quite a few workshops organised jointly by the career service and different law firms on how to prepare for interviews.
When I started at ULaw, I found the international student induction very helpful. I made friends with some other international students who were also new to London/the UK but from different tutorial groups. We supported each other when we were homesick and visited interesting places in London together during holidays.
ULaw tutor Peter Goodchild inspired me during my studies. When I was doing the GDL, as the only non-native speaker, I was very shy and scared of making mistakes. He would direct some of the questions to me in a friendly way and encouraged me to express my opinions. I am very grateful and will try to do the same for others during my career.
Law is a profession that requires long hours, but I am trying to finish everything during work days and save my weekends for unwinding. The country parks are all very accessible in Hong Kong and there are so many different great restaurants. I also try to exercise two to three times a week during work days.
To be a successful trainee at Linklaters you are required to have good attention to detail, to be passionate about what you do and be a team player. Firstly though, do your best to get good grades as you need these to secure an interview. Find something you are passionate about and get to know that well so you can have something to talk about confidently in the interview. Trust yourself and apply. Linklaters is a very friendly firm and we encourage diversity here, so do not ever let your self-doubt stop you.
It was very helpful at ULaw that all the tutors have private practice experience either in a law firm or in house. The tutors know how lawyers actually apply law in real life, they adopt the same approach when running the tutorials and this prepares students for their legal career.
I have done Projects and Derivatives, and Structured Finance during my training contract. I enjoyed Projects because we work on so many ‘deal of the year’ deals and none of them could be done without team work. We supported each other during those late nights and worked shifts before closing so that everyone could get some rest. There was always someone monitoring the deal and taking things forward. We have a very broad practice and none of the deals are the same. I worked on infrastructure and energy, corporate documents and finance documents, renewable and traditional coal/gas, new projects and refinancing during my six month sitting at Projects. We work from the legal aspect, but we also support the business decision making.
I also enjoyed Derivatives and Structured Finance. I like how we take an idea from the clients and develop them into short but complex documents. I especially enjoy analysing the cash flow of the structure to make sure the documents are clear about who pays what in each situation and where the money will be from.
I really enjoyed the small group tutorials at ULaw. We did case studies as a group and presented our outcome as a group. The small group teaching also ensures that the tutors have time to answer questions from each student. I’d recommend the LPC because it helps you to develop your self-studying skills, teamwork skills and presentation skills which are all important in the legal practice.
I also appreciated that I did the LPC with all the Linklaters future trainees. We developed friendships during the LPC, which has made the training contract easier as I always have people I know well to talk to and we can support each other.
I think it is a good idea that ULaw is branching out in Hong Kong as it does not have a conversion course route for non-law/non-common law students. If they want to enter the legal profession, they will need to do the JD, which is a full-time two-year programme. The GDL offers more flexibility. The full-time GDL will be the quickest way to finish the requisite legal education and varies versions of part-time GDL allows people to cater for their personal situations.