Billy Yu Lok Ng, social mobility ambassador

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 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 for 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. There was also 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.

Billy's advice:
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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