School of Law

Nicholas Pirie

LLB Law | 1966 - 1969

Photo of Nicholas Pirie

About Me

I went to work as a Clerk to the Justices after leaving the University of Leeds. I then went to practice as a barrister at 4 Kings Bench Walk – Leonard Lewis QC’s Chambers. In 1975, I came to work in Hong Kong as barrister and have been practicing there ever since.

Why I chose to study LLB Law

My parents insisted I do a course which would lead to a profession. My brother did optics at Manchester University and my sister became a school teacher and latterly a headmistress of an Oxford School.

My Student Experience at Leeds University Law School

As I had kidney disease and was not always well, I was at the centre of the note making team - this encouraged great interaction with other students. Throughout my three years, I lived at Boddington Hall and met some wonderful students who have been life-long friends - particularly the German exchange medical students.

I remember the eccentricities of the professors particularly well, in addition to the brilliance of some of the tutors. I also remember the lecturer of land law at the time was a practising solicitor, and very good at explaining this esoteric subject.

My Course

Before coming to University, nobody told me that law students have to inhale so much information - so this was a shock to start with. However, in the end, jurisprudence was excellent and stood me in good stead as a practitioner – particularly studies that dealt with rights. In addition to this, my course inspired me to write books and I contribute to academic journals in Hong Kong – mainly on the subject of damages.

After Graduation

Meeting and interacting with students from all over the world, particularly in a post-war period, prepared me for work with the international community and the increasingly cosmopolitan working environment that we are now accustomed to.

I have worked in Rotary now for over 20 years, helping to run a leprosy patients project in Sichuan; I would not have had the confidence to do this for nearly 20 years, unless I had had a good grounding in law at Leeds.

I have also caught up with other Lawyers from Leeds: Bill Catley, John Wright and others in Hong Kong, who all have had successful professional careers as a result of their training at the University of Leeds.

My degree also taught me discipline in learning.

My Careers advice to current and prospective students

After completing a law degree, I would encourage students to gain a professional qualification, perhaps as a solicitor, barrister or accountant. It is important to get the basic learning and training complete.

However, I also feel it is important that some lessons in life are learned outside the world of law, for example in an office, or doing social work – I worked as a Probation Officer for the Inner London Probation Office for a while. You cannot possibly advise clients, or cross examine witnesses, unless you have participated and learned some basic life lessons yourself.

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