Monday, June 16, 2014

On Taking the Overseas Lawyers Qualification Examination (OLQE)

Well, the time of reckoning has come.  Now that I am five years qualified (counting from the date of being sworn in to the New York bar), the time has come for me to sit for the OLQE, or Overseas Lawyers Qualification Examination in Hong Kong.  This is essentially the bar exam, all over again. 

My firm is in the process of converting from a registered foreign law firm to a local law firm, which is why we are all facing the music, from the partners on down to the last lowly associate.  If I pass this exam, I am eligible to become a Hong Kong qualified lawyer. 

The OLQE consists of five heads, or subjects: Head I, Conveyancing, Head II, Civil and Criminal Procedure, Head III, Commerical and Company Law, Head IV, Accounts and Professional Conduct and Head V, Common Law.  Most foreign lawyers opt to take it five years after qualification in their home state because then they are eligible for exemption from Heads II, III and IV. An applicant admitted to practice in common law jurisdictions is automatically exempt from Head V.   To have to take four or all five heads while working a full time job is truly grueling and daunting, so the firm is willing to give us a respite until we are eligible to take only one. 

In order to be exempt from the other heads, I had to prepare a long application detailing my experience in the other subjects. A notary also had to come and witness all of my signatures.  I received my letter last week informing me that I have been granted exemption from sitting Heads II-V, which means I only have to take and pass the one exam, Head I, Conveyancing.   It's the best possible result, but it is still a bit grim as Conveyancing is the most archaic and complicated of the subjects.

I start taking bar prep classes in August and I can barely contain my joy.  The date of the exam this year is October 28.  Dun dun dun...


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. HI I'M A CHINESE LAWYER, AND wanna sit for OLQE in 2015 .

  3. Hi Allison, Thanks for sharing your experience. I have a few questions regarding exam exemption. Is it ok to contact you? Thanks.

    1. Sure. Please let me know the best way to reach you.

    2. Hi allison,

      Just wondering what is the examination venue for past OLQE?


    3. It has usually been in a hotel or conference center. When I took my exam, it was in the Holiday Inn in TST on Nathan Road. Hope this helps.

  4. Hi Allison,

    Thank you for your blog.

    I am a candidate for the 2016 OLQE exams.

    I'm considering enrolling in the IP learning courses or the Lex Omnibus courses.

    I understand that you only enrolled in Head 1 - Conveyancing and I've heard great reviews about Michael Wilkinson.

    I'm required to take all other heads except for the oral head (5 exams in total).

    I would be grateful if you could advise whether you have heard any feedback from other candidates about whether the best courses are provided IP Learning or Lexomnibus?

    Thank you for your time.

    My email is


    1. Hi Damen,

      I have heard good feedback from takers of both exams. I hear that they are different in approach, with Lex Omnibus being more about teaching you the subject and IP Learning being more about coaching you for the exam, however I think by the end of the courses you really know enough either way!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Hi Alison, thank you for sharing your OLQE experience. I have a few questions on the exemption part and would like to discuss with you. I have sent you an email and looking forward to your reply, thanks!!

  7. Nice post! I also took help of an online LSAT course. I am so glad I took their help because I am a successful lawyer in today’s time and it is all because online courses have made it possible for students to actually prepare for the exams without having to worry about other courses and assignments. An online course is quite feasible.

  8. nice bLog! its interesting. thank you for sharing....;''/