Q&A

  • Posted on: 17 March 2015
  • By: kissitadmin

Q.1 Where can I find information about pupillage in Hong Kong?

ou should study the following legislations: Legal Practitioners Ordinance, Cap.159, Laws of Hong Kong Barristers (Admission) Rules, Cap.159AA Barristers (Advanced Legal Education Requirement) Rules, Cap.159AB Barristers (Qualification for Admission and Pupillage) Rules, Cap.159AC You should also study the Code of Conduct of the Bar of the HKSAR (“the Code”). You may also want to visit the website of Hong Kong Bar Association – http://www.hkba.org.

Q.2 How should I plan my pupillage?

The period of pupillage is normally one of 12 months, of which at least 3 months are expected to be spent on civil and 3 months on criminal practice. How you structure the entire period of your pupillage basically depends on the types of work you want to see and the availability of your intended pupil masters. Your pupillage may also include not more than one month of service as a Judge’s Marshall. It is not uncommon that students apply to their intended pupil masters as early as during the last year of their undergraduate study. To serve as a Judge’s Marshall, you would have to apply to the Judiciary Administrator or the Judge directly.

Q.3 How do I find a pupil master?

A practising barrister who has been in full practice at the Bar in Hong Kong for not less than 5 continuous years is eligible to take a pupil. A Senior Counsel may take a pupil for not more than 3 months. You may visit the website of Hong Kong Bar Association to view the Bar List which contains a full list of our practising members.

Q.4 How many pupil masters should I have?

Apart from the answers to Q.2 and Q.3 above, there is no specific requirement or restriction as to the number of pupil masters one may have. However, pupillage with a particular barrister for less than 3 months is normally not approved. Further, you may not serve pupillage with more than one Senior Counsel or with a Senior Counsel for a period of more than 3 months.

Q.5 What happens if my pupillage is so arranged that the last part of my 12-month pupillage becomes less than 3 months?

The Bar Council has the discretion to consider approving such pupillage arrangement on a case-by-case basis.

Q.6 What should I do if I still have a month or just a few days of the 12-month pupillage to serve but the validity of my certificate of eligibility for pupillage would expire before then?

You would need to extend your certificate of eligibility for pupillage. The rules require you to apply for the extension not less than 2 months prior to the expiry of the current certificate. Ignorance of the time limit does not afford a good excuse for the Bar Council to exercise its discretion to extend your certificate out of time. The application fee is HK$250. If the extension is for a few days, you may ask the Bar Council to consider waiving the application fee.

Q.7 Could the period of pupillage be less than 12 months?

The period of pupillage may be reduced if the pupil has substantial experience in court advocacy at the time of the application for pupillage. Previous experience of other work or practice in the legal field will not suffice. Application for reduction of pupillage should be made to the Chief Judge of the High Court.

Q.8 Could I extend my pupillage beyond 12 months?

Yes. However, if all your pupil masters would certify that you are fit and suitable to practise as a barrister at the end of the 12-month pupillage, you would still be required to apply for a full practising certificate for the purpose of carrying on your practice. In that case, the pupillage extended beyond the 12th month would be a voluntary arrangement between you and the barrister from whom you want to continue to learn.

Q.9 Could I serve my pupillage in parts?

Your pupillage should be served during the 12-month validity of your certificate of eligibility for pupillage. Truncation or suspension during the course of pupillage is not approved except by prior application and in exceptional circumstances. Any approval may be granted upon terms and the extension of the certificate of eligibility for pupillage.

Q.10 May I take holidays during pupillage?

Apart from weekends and public holidays, any other holiday will be treated as truncation of your pupillage and the answer to Q.9 above applies.

Q.11 Do I get paid during pupillage?

There is no mandatory funding of pupillage in Hong Kong. However, chambers may have their own arrangements. Pupil masters also have the discretion to remunerate pupils for work of value. The Bar Association has established various scholarships and funds which pupils may apply for. You could contact the Bar Secretariat or visit the Bar website for details.

Q.12 Could I have a part time job during pupillage?

Pupils must apply for prior approval of the Bar Council for engagement in supplementary occupation during pupillage. Such applications would be decided on a case-by-case basis considering the nature and extent of such engagement, the views of the pupil master as well as whether the pupil’s training may be adversely affected. Any approval may be granted on terms.