Vivi Victoria Qian: Chinese Norwegian in the law sector

photo:Yang Yang


  • Could you tell our readers a bit of yourself?

I am 24 years old and born and raised in Oslo and currently a student on the last year of my law degree at the University of Oslo. In August, I am going to be starting my legal career as an associate (Advokatfullmektig) at Thommessen law firm in Oslo. This upcoming year, the year of the Ox, will be filled with new experiences as I will embark on my first year as a young professional.

As for interests, I have since a young age been interested in the society and especially how the legal system in each country is a reflection of the surrounding society. So when I decided to study law, my goal was to learn more about how to use knowledge of the legal system as a tool to further develop and change the Norwegian and international society, both in terms of growth in individual rights, but also in terms of sustainability and further economic growth in the future. I would say that the 5-year Master´s programmein Law in Oslo has contributed a great deal to my knowledge about the Norwegian society and also to my personal growth. So far, I am very satisfied with my career choice.

As for my free time, I like to stay social with friends and family and physically active as well. Especially during this pandemic, I have been enjoying cooking and learning new Chinese recipes. I have also been spending more time in the Oslo forest and becoming better at cross-country skiing.

  • Tell us a bit about Thommessen, what does it mainly cover? We know there many sectors in law.

Thommessen is one of the largest and leading Norwegian law firms with its main office in Oslo. The firm also has offices in Bergen, Stavanger and London and cover all areas of corporate law. Thommessen assists mainly businesses with transactions, complex projects and other contentious matters within commercial law. Some examples on areas which Thommessen covers are M&A and corporate law, banking and financing, construction and contract law, dispute resolution, real estate, employment law, EU/EEA and competition law and tax law. There are currently 213 lawyers working at Thommessen across all offices. Thommessen is also the Norwegian member firm of LexMundi – a world leading network of independent law firms.

  • Many overseas Chinese prefer technology subject, comparing with that, legal study is harder and also more expensive. Why did you choose law study? What is your motivation? Is it very demanding? What is the difficult, interesting part?

As stated above, I have since a young age had an interest in laws and regulations and been intrigued to learn more about that. It was especially after I attended the elective subject Rettslære(Jurisprudence) at Elvebakken Upper Secondary school that I became more certain that I wanted to pursue a career in the legal field.

A great advantage to studying law in Norway is the vast amount of different job opportunities after the studies. With a 5-year Master’s in Law degree it is possible to become for examplea judge, defense attorney, public prosecutor, consultant, human rights lawyer, activist, commercial lawyer, work in-house for various companies and also quite a few governmental jobs.

My motivation was therefore first of all interest in the field, but also the flexibility in terms of jobs and career paths that the Master of Law degree provides. It is no secret that Law school in itself can be quite demanding at times as it requires a lot of self-study and deep understanding of the Norwegian legal system. In order to succeed in law school, my biggest tip is to learn how manage the time between studies, free time, social life, staying active and a part time job early on.

  • Talking about Elvebakken videregående school, why did you choose this school?

I chose Elvebakken as it is located in the Oslo city center area and because the school is known for its great professional and social school environment. It also has one of the best school theatres (revy) in Norway, which makes the school stand out amongst other upper secondary schools in Oslo.

  • What role did your parents play in your study? Are they kind of “tiger mother” type parents?

My father has always been very hard working and has strong personality and therefore wants me to do well in all aspects of life. Growing up, both my parents had high expectation of me when it came to school, but they have always respected my own will and wishes when it came to my social life, choosing subjects at school, what school I wanted to attend and what I wanted to study at university. Since many of the subjects I took in upper secondary school belonged to social science, which requires strong language skills, there was not much that they could help me with. The same applies to law.

  • What is the qualification is required to be admitted to thelaw study?

There are no specific requirements other than to complete high school. In Norway there are no big applications processes to be admitted to the public Universities. In order to be admitted to the 5-year Master of Law program, you have to apply through the Norwegian Universities and Colleges Admission Service (SamordnaOpptak) where they only measure the students with the grades they received from High School. The grading requirements therefore varies from university to university and from year to year. For law studies the grading requirements has increased a lot during recent years, and are in general consideredas quite high.

  • For those people who are interested in it, which universities in Norway offer degrees in law?

Since the title Master iRettsvitenskap (Master of Law) is a protected title in Norway, there are only three universities in Norway that offer the 5-year Master of Law program. All the Universities that offer the master of law programme are public and run by the state:

  • The University of Oslo
  • The University of Bergen
  • The University of Tromsø

It is also possible to combine abachelor in law with a two year “master’s degree” from one of those three universities mentioned.

  • What is your master thesis about?

 My master thesis is in the field of securities trading law (verdipapirhandelloven) and about shareholders mandatory bid to other shareholders of the securities companies admitted to trading on a regulated market. This subject is highly relevant on a EU/EEA level as well, so I plan to incorporate case law from other jurisdictions.

  • What would be your job? What are you going to do in your job?

 I will be starting my legal career in Thommessens M&A and Capital Markets division as an associate (Advokatfullmektig). My job will be to assist businesses with mostly questions related to corporate law, such as acquisitions, listing on the stock exchange and various other legal tasks related to corporate law. In Thommessen I will also be working frequently in teams with other lawyers and coworkers to assist our client’ needs.Since I previously have been anintern at Thommessen, my assumption is that my daily work life will be varied and depend on what projects I will be working on once I start working full-time.

  • Does your company have business with China?

Yes! Thommessen has some Chinese clients and has previously assisted them with some acquisitions in Norway. A large and ever-expanding share of our activities are international in nature. We represent non-Norwegian businesses in Norway, as well as Norwegian businesses internationally.

  • What is the requirement to be a lawyer in Norway? A degree? A test? Or a certificate?

 In order to become a lawyer in Norway, there is an mandatory practice period, lasting at least two years. The other requirements varies, but usually one has to have three cases in court, and do a mandatory lawyer course which is run by the Norwegian Bar Association (Advokatforeningen).

  • How was it as a Chinese growing up in Norway? Did your Chinese background ever bring you any trouble or advantages?

 I feel very fortunate to have a Chinese ethnic background growing up in Norway, as it has allowed me to have some sort of a bonus culture.  I will also say that there definitely has been some challenges due to feeling different from others with a Norwegian ethnic background, and especially from having a different physical appearance when I was younger. As I have grown older, I have learned to appreciate being different and looking a bit different from others.

  • Legal service is quite expensive in Norway. Many people cannot afford that. Is there any Pro bono, English: “for the public good” among the industry? As an ordinary person, is there any place to seek free legal consultant? Or low price legal serviceprovided by government or other organization?

There are several free legal services in Norway with various objects which cover different areas of law. Currently there are five law student driven organizations offering free legal advice across the different universities in Norway. At the University of Oslo we have JURK and Jussbuss. The first one (JURK) is especially targeted towards offering women free legal advice and is called Juridiskrådgivning for kvinner in Norwegian. Theother studentdriven organisationsareJussformidlingen, Jushjelpa Midt-Norge, Jushjelpa Nord-Norge. Otherorganisationsthat offer free legal adviceare for example Barnas jurist (The Children’s jurist) Kirkensbymisjons, Rettshjelpsentralen and NOAS. If certain conditions are met, there is also a general way to seek free legal advice through the Norwegian governments Rettshjelpsordning.

  • Have you watched any legal TV shows?

I like to watch American legal TV-series and have enjoyed series like Suits and The Good Wife. But to be clear, going to court in Norway looks quite different from when they go to court in the American TV Shows. There is usually less back and forth debate in the court. The judge rules the case according to the law and not necessarily based on the parties’ arguments.´

  • Could you share a bit of your job hunting experience? How is the job market for law sector?

The job market for the law sector is generally considered as a good one. According to recent study at the University of Bergen, about 93 % of law students have relevant full-time jobstwo years after graduating. There are usually at all times quite a few positions advertised publicly that students can apply for.

A great advantage of studying law, especially in Oslo, is the possibility to build relationships with future employers and companies as a student. Several times a year, it is possible to attend various professional events with usually a lecture held by various private practicing firmswhich are related to subjects the students are enrolled to attend that semester. Furthermore, it is possible to apply for traineeships, usually lasting from 4 to 6 weeks at private practicing law firms, but also firms with in-house lawyers and the public sector. During these traineeships, you get a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with the people that work at the firms and test out how it is to be a full-time employee which can also potentially lead to a job offer after graduating. For example, I have been a trainee at Thommessen on two different occasions which later lead to me receiving a job offer.

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