Billy Yu Lok Ng
Firm: Carters solicitors
Role: Trainee solicitor
'I love musical theatre; in a round about way, it inspired me to join the legal profession.'
As strange as it sounds, it was my love of musical theatre that inspired me to join the solicitor’s profession. I have wanted to be a solicitor since I performed in a school production of 'Legally Blonde’. I played the role of a lawyer who was an outcast at law school, not the most stylish or popular, but who had to work part-time whilst he studies. The character was inspirational and spoke of pursuing opportunities, grabbing them with both hands.
I come from a small town in Hong Kong and neither of my parents are professionals. My mother was a tailor who graduated from primary school and started working in a factory sewing gloves for 15 hours a day. My dad is a dumpling maker who left school at around 11 years old. In spite of this I could not ask for more. They may not have been able to provide me with insights into a professional world or advise me on how to get a training contract, but they did their very best to inspire me in many different ways.
I attended a non-fee paying primary and secondary school in Hong Kong. In 2012, I left home to study at the University of Kent, using my parents’ limited savings and a personal loan. I soon realised that I was going to struggle financially - accommodation costs were high as were my living expenses. I was fortunate enough to secure a job as a residential warden at Chaucer College in Canterbury, a position which did not pay a salary but provided free food and accommodation in exchange of looking after foreign students and helping them learn English. I also worked at Debenhams, as a private language tutor, and as a housekeeper at Kent Hospitality during the summer. In hindsight, it was a challenging time, not only financially, but because I had no friends, family or connections in the country, also there was a significant change in culture and English is my third language.
I miss my family, who are still in Hong Kong, although I did have a difficult relationship with them. During one visit back to Hong Kong, my parents suggested I shouldn't return to university to finish my law degree. They thought the different culture was a bad influence. I insisted that I wanted to finish my degree, but I did so at risk of further damaging my relationship with my parents.
I have never let my circumstances define me. I am motivated to be the best person and solicitor I can be, and hope I can prove my family wrong. I won the prestigious University of Kent’s Chancellor’s Prize when I graduated. In the same year I was awarded the Anthony Nolan Volunteer of the Year prize.
Diligence and perseverance are as important as intelligence for solicitors. Like everyone else I was rejected by numerous vacation schemes and training contracts. I persevered and ended up undertaking 20 legal internships, including one abroad in Beijing and one in Bangalore through a scholarship. These experiences set up me up to secure the training contract I am undertaking today.
My advice to aspiring solicitors, particularly those from a minority group, is to embrace what makes you different - don't let anxiety about your differences defeat you.
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