I joined the legal profession in the year 2000, after graduating from law school.
In 2005, I left my practice as a solicitor with an international law firm to join the Bar with a focus in civil and public administrative law. It was a difficult decision for me at the time. I made the switch because I wanted my practice to focus more on constitutional issues, and because the Bar would also allow me to become more actively involved in politics.
In 2006, I became a founding member of the Civic Party. I joined the Civic Party because I see it as a defender of our core values in Hong Kong – the rule of law, freedom and social justice.
In late 2006, I was elected as a member of the Election Committee representing the Legal profession. I used my position on the Committee to advocate for faster democratic reform, a low nomination threshold for the Chief Executive (CE) election, and the abolition of functional constituencies. I openly called for more transparency and debate between the CE candidates. In 2011, I was re-elected. In both CE elections, I openly supported the pan-democratic CE candidates by giving them my nomination.
In 2008, I joined the Citizens Commission for Constitutional Development headed by the former Chief Secretary, Mrs. Anson Chan. As a group, we have put forward public position papers and proposals on the subject of democratic reform.
Together with other like-minded professionals from various disciplines, in 2007, I co-founded The Professional Commons – a public policy think tank with the aim to deliver quality public policy research for Hong Kong. I believe our politics needs to become more focused and more professional, as democracy is about the competition of ideas. Since its establishment, this policy think tank has published and submitted to the Government numerous policy proposals on the following areas:
- Sustainable economic development and environmental protection
- Better city planning and cultural development
- Social mobility and health care reform
In 2008, I served on the Bar Council. I also served on the Bar Pupillage Reform Committee to explore ways of improving the quality of and preparation for new entrants to the profession. Over the years, I have taken every opportunity to join the Bar delegation to visit the Mainland and to communicate with PRC officials. I believe in the importance of maintaining the dialogue.
Since 2011, I have been serving on the Board of the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group. I see it as my duty to support (both morally and financially) our professional colleagues in the Mainland, who are sacrificing so much for the development of the rule of law and human rights. Their courage and integrity deserve our every respect and support. As a group, we seek and give financial support for human rights lawyers who have been disbarred or jailed by the authorities for their role as advocates. The recent incidents of Chen Guangcheng and Li Wangyang serve as important reminders for us of the need for social justice and the rule of law in China. The Legal profession has a right to expect their LegCo representative to fearlessly speak up on these issues as and when they arise.
Since 2005, I have been doing district work and giving free legal advice sessions in various housing estates in different parts of Hong Kong. Like many others who do pro bono work, this experience has allowed me to understand better the legal problems of the people at the grass roots, including the serious inadequacies of our legal aid system. I firmly believe that as a profession, we cannot afford to be seen as detached and distant from the public. If I am elected as your representative, I shall continue to reach out to different local communities.
Since 2003, I have published many articles on various public policy areas and on defending the rule of law. These published articles are available on my Facebook page and this blog, denniskwok.wordpress.com.