I was 14, stumbling through Hong Kong Park in black heels when it began to rain. That rainy morning marked the first day of my pursuit of the Bar. I had never set foot in chambers, let alone under a prominent silk, now sitting high on the Bench. Anxious excitement washed over my every move. Yet, I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience of attending court and reading skeleton, despite being an amateur. Nonetheless, two things were established and remain my critical advice to mentees: 1. TV legal dramas are not the basis for studying law, and 2. Politics remains at the entrance of chambers, only law is permissible within. This internship was followed by years of ping-pong amongst others, where I continued to learn about the practice of the law.

Like many, my route to the Bar is not without disappointment, self-doubt and rejection. That sunny Wednesday afternoon in July is unforgettable. I had just returned to chambers from a long day at court, engaging with a multitude of civil claims to distract myself from the release of IB results. As was eminent in chambers culture, practitioners and fellow mini-pupils threw their weight behind me for the last few hours, doing all they could to keep my nerves under control. After an agonising wait, I was devastated to see my hopes being dashed at the first glimpse of my results. Crashing waves of failure and disappointment took over any remaining rationality as I realised that I had missed my first choice by far. I couldn’t help but wonder whether my dream would ever come true. Thankfully, my Sifu (Cantonese: respected pupil-master), Sabrina, offered considerable support and comfort, reminding me that putting in my best is all I can ask of myself, no matter what lies ahead. To those stumbling in pursuit of the Bar, you can only believe and keep trying.

I was quarantined on my first day of term at King’s College London, having tested positive for Covid-19 the previous night. Having just refocused my mentality for new adventures in London, that was a less than ideal start to the academic year. Any hope of making friends during ‘freshers’ was gone, a lonely year seeming to lie ahead. Fortunately, I couldn’t have been more wrong, as I was able to meet many friends across tutorials and lectures upon the start of classes. It seemed as if London was beginning to be the light at the end of the tunnel. To all those who kept me going for the first term, and to my mentors in London and Oxford who extended the warmest of welcomes to me, I am forever indebted.

I must also express my deepest gratitude to my Sifu, Mr Fung SBS KC SC, for generously introducing me to a multitude of opportunities. Having served a mini-pupillage under him, he was well-informed of my resolute desire to become a commercial advocate. At his wedding in January, I had the privilege of acquainting with many of his learned friends: Mr Justice Kemal Bokhary of the Court of Final Appeal, the President of the Competition Tribunal, Mr Justice Jonathan Harris and the esteemed silk who brought me to Middle Temple, Master Scott KC SC. These leading names established one thing: Legal London welcomes everyone with a breadth of opportunities. 

London weather is not the most amicable – cold, wet and windy. Nonetheless, Legal London is warm and comforting, with endless opportunities on offer. Whether the Inns of Court, each with its own pristine buildings and vibrant atmosphere, or the grandiose Royal Courts of Justice, there is much to explore in this metropolitan. As I reflect on my first year in Legal London, I realise that ending up here was undoubtedly for the better. This year has brought new friends, mentors, adventures, and a new direction with fresh opportunities to diversify my career. My skills have been challenged in all fields through Middle Temple workshops and internal debates, and many valuable friendships have arisen from each occasion. Once determined to go home, I am now dreaming up elaborate plans for Call in both London and Hong Kong, whilst treasuring the time with friends and mentors in both jurisdictions. Legal London is the ideal place to pursue my dream of being an active player in the legal sector, whether it be in the capacity of a barrister, academic or other roles. To anyone in the same predicament, I urge you to make the most of what every opportunity holds. After all, an open mind is critical to the pursuit of greater success.

Having started my pursuit of the hidden treasures of Legal London, exaggerated depictions of shouting matches between barristers and a judge slamming the gavel define the law no more. Instead, ‘living’ in the Maughan Library and passionate mealtime debates on current topics define Legal London for me. Middle Temple lectures, workshops and High Table dinners provide much needed social opportunities and diversified perspectives on an otherwise routine first year. Waking up to emails from my Middle Temple sponsor, Michaella (to whom I am most grateful), always brings a smile to my face. Surrounding me every step of the way are constant reminders that black robes flapping in the wind, glistening horsehair wigs and suitcases of documents shine not far ahead of us, briefs patiently awaiting each and every resilient adventurer who reaches the top of the climb. As we journey closer to the wig and gown, one thing resonates strong and sound: one must have faith. I am excited for my career at the Bar, and to give back for the extensive and meticulous training Middle Temple has offered me. In the meantime, I remain optimistic and grateful. 

Pearl is an undergraduate Law student at King’s College London, who previously studied at German Swiss International School Hong Kong. A student member of the Inn, Pearl has undertaken a considerable number of mini-pupillages at leading sets in Hong Kong since 14 years of age, pursuing her dream of becoming a Barrister.