When Richmondite Hermanie Chiong was called to the bar on Monday, she was one of the youngest lawyers to ever earn that honour in B.C.
Chiong, 23, obtained her law degree from England’s Oxford University and could probably work anywhere in the world, but has opted to move back to Richmond, where she was born and raised.
“Richmond’s my home. Being able to return with a new perspective and give back to the place where I grew up is not only fulfilling, but also an honour. I wouldn’t choose otherwise,” said Chiong.
Marc Kazimirski, the founding partner of Vancouver’s KazLaw where Chiong is currently articling, describes Chiong as a “rock star.”
Kazimirski recalled first meeting Chiong a year ago during an interview. He wasn’t only impressed by her academic achievements and hardworking attitude but also the fact her values were very much in line with those of the law firm.
“In an office like ours, where people are going to work closely together, it’s important that there are shared common values because representing injured individuals requires some compassion, patience and fire in the belly. Because we are going to fight for them as their advocate.”
Chiong said she has always wanted to help others. In April 2013, she worked 145 volunteer hours as a navigator at Richmond Hospital before moving to England to attend Oxford University.
“A lot of work we do is fighting for victims, fighting for what we think is right. We represent people who need the voice the most, including young people who haven’t gained entry into the workforce and people with disabilities. These are valuable members of our society who have the potential to contribute.”
In addition to working with Kazlaw, Chiong will also work with other senior students from the UBC faculty of law to set up the class curriculum.
“Looking back five years ago, I don’t think I imagined I would be here right now,” said Chiong. Her advice for other young people is keep an open mind and work hard.
“I don’t think anything comes by pure chance. Opportunity comes in many ways, but they will all be fruitless if you don’t put in a lot of work.”