Hong Kong

Since the handover of sovereignty in 1997, Hong Kong has continued to maintain and build on its reputation as one of the world’s leading financial centres. Hong Kong’s political system is governed by the Basic Law of Hong Kong, its constitutional document and it functions under a common law framework. Hong Kong is one of the world’s most densely-populated areas with a population of seven million people. Cantonese and English are the official languages, although with the stronger economic ties developed with mainland China, Mandarin has become more widely spoken.

There are approximately 70 foreign registered law firms in Hong Kong. Foreign lawyers are not permitted to practise or advise on Hong Kong law. However, they are allowed to form associations with local law firms in order to share fees, profits, premises, management or employees. These associations must be registered with the Law Society. Although foreign law firms conduct their business in English, there is a preference for legal professionals qualified in Hong Kong and who speak Cantonese and/or Mandarin. Overseas qualified lawyers from both common law and non-common law jurisdictions can apply for admission in Hong Kong if they fulfill certain conditions and successfully complete or are exempted from all or part of the Overseas Lawyers Qualification Examination. For more information on being admitted as a Hong Kong qualified lawyer, please visit the Law Society of Hong Kong’s website.

Living and working in Hong Kong

Visas

In order to work in Hong Kong, you must have a sponsoring company that is willing to employ you and make an application on your behalf. They will need to provide a contract of employment, amongst other documents, as proof to the immigration department. The company will then be given the visa which will be forwarded to you. This process normally takes between 4 to 6 weeks. More information can be found at the Immigration Department’s website.

Salaries and Tax

Junior lawyers working for international law firms can expect to receive between HKD 550,000 to 1 million per year, with mid-level lawyers earning 1 million to 1.6 million per year. Tax on salary is not deducted at source and you will be required to complete a tax form providing details of your earnings. The tax rate is on a scale between 2 to 17 percent with a flat rate of 15 percent applicable once salary reaches a specified level. Allowances are available for single parents, married couples and for dependent children which reduce the taxable amount from the total salary. Please visit the Inland Revenue department’s website.

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