Postgraduate options for studying law in Hong Kong continue to grow following the establishment of the territory's third law school at Chinese University (CUHK) in 2005. Besides its Juris Doctor (JD), Joint JD/MBA degree, Master of Laws (LLM) in Chinese business law, common law and international economic law, CUHK also offers a Master of Philosophy of Law (MPhil), Doctor of Philosophy of Law (PhD) and Postgraduate Certificate in Laws (PCLL). Similarly, the University of Hong Kong (HKU) offers comparable degrees including seven taught postgraduate LLM programmes, among them arbitration and dispute resolution, which was introduced in 2007. HKU's law school was the first in Hong Kong to introduce an LLM more than 20 years ago and now offers it in Chinese law, corporate and financial law, human rights, information technology and intellectual property law (IT/IP), and common law. The university also offers four taught postgraduate diploma programmes in commercial law, IT/IP, public law and Chinese law. According to Douglas Arner, director of the LLM (Corporate & Financial Law) programme at HKU, the programmes provide students with the opportunity to either pursue a broad range of courses or to specialise deeply in one area. He said the course structure provides flexibility for students from different backgrounds to structure their programmes to meet their needs. About one-third of the students at HKU's Faculty of Law come from Hong Kong, one-third from the mainland and one-third from overseas. Most of the part-time students are working full time in legal or related fields such as finance, commerce, IT/IP and human rights. 'The large and diverse student body means that students also have excellent opportunities to build friendships and contacts in Hong Kong, the mainland and around the world,' Dr Arner said. 'The programme provides an opportunity to study at one of the leading universities in the region and for non-local students the opportunity to study in one of the most exciting cities in the world, and at lower tuition levels than would apply in the United States or Britain.' City University's School of Law offers a slightly more diverse programme with its taught postgraduate courses, among them two LLM qualifications, a Doctor of Juridical Science, and Master of Arts in Arbitration and Dispute Resolution. While the Faculty of Law at HKU is the oldest in the territory, having originally opened in 1972, the law school at CUHK took in its first students in 2006 and launched a PCLL programme in September 2008. Stephen Hall, associate dean, (Graduate Studies) and director of the JD programme at CUHK, said the PCLL programme is innovative and its focus on small-group teaching is a distinguishing feature. 'It's also the newest of the PCLL programmes in Hong Kong and has built upon best practice both in Hong Kong and overseas,' he said. Professor Hall said the focus was on teaching and assessing some of the law programmes in English. 'The main purpose of doing that is to build an international student base and an international student faculty. It also enables overseas students to learn about Chinese business law without spending several years having to study Chinese,' he said. As of mid-December last year, the LLM programme applications received at CUHK were more than double the number of applications 12 months previously, and the JD applications were more than five times more than a year earlier, Professor Hall said. He attributed the growth to two factors. 'First, there has been strong support for our programmes largely as a result of students saying good things to their friends, family and online where there are several active online communities for legal education,' he said. 'The other reason may have to do with external factors. In Hong Kong, when there's an economic downturn one of the interesting cultural features is that people look to improve their skills. If they are concerned about the possibility of being laid off or being sufficiently skilled to find employment, one of the areas they think about is law. 'A couple of years ago law had to compete with finance and economic degrees for the very best. Now we have the field to ourselves.' At HKU, for the 2008-2009 academic year the total admission numbers for the seven taught postgraduate LLM programmes were more than 200 plus nine students accepted on the various diploma programmes. 'We have the broadest selection of specialist courses available over a wide range of subject areas as well as the largest and most diverse teaching staff in Hong Kong,' Dr Arner said. 'The variety of courses and diversity of staff is comparable to the best law faculties in the world.' Continuing competition for the best graduates and funding, however, means that all three universities are seeking to strengthen their programmes through whatever means are available. HKU, for example, will begin a joint master's programme with the University of Zurich this year and intends to introduce a new programme in international law in the near future.