The legal profession
Information based on the
Departmental publication "Legal System in Hong Kong" printed in 2008
legal profession in Hong Kong is divided into two distinct branches - barristers
(also known as "counsel") and solicitors. Solicitors have limited rights
of audience before the courts whereas barristers have unlimited rights of audience
in all courts and tribunals where legal representation is allowed. Lawyers practising
within one branch of the profession are not, at the same time, allowed to practise
within the other.
While the majority of members of the legal profession
are engaged in private practice, a significant number work in one of the government
legal departments (such as the Department
of Justice or theLegal
Aid Department), or are employed as legal advisers to public or private companies,
or engaged in teaching and research at one of Hong Kong's tertiary institutions.
are around 1,000 practising barristers in Hong Kong. They are all members of the
Hong Kong Bar Association ("HKBA"). The Bar Council of the HKBA, which
is elected annually, is the governing body for barristers.
The conduct and
etiquette of members of the Bar are governed by the HKBA's Code of Conduct as
amended from time to time. Every barrister, whether in practice or not, must maintain
the standards and professional integrity of the Bar. The Bar Council is responsible
for investigating and considering complaints against the conduct of barristers.
Should the circumstances warrant, the complaints will be referred to the Barristers
Disciplinary Tribunal which will determine the matter and, if the complaint is
found to be made out, impose the appropriate punishments.
In respect of
legal works conducted in Hong Kong, barristers can only accept instructions from
a firm of solicitors, or members of professional bodies recognised by the Bar
Association. Hence, the point of contact for members of the public in most cases
is the solicitor who gathers the evidence of a case and interviews witnesses.
There are over 5,900 solicitors practising
in Hong Kong. TheLaw
Society is the governing body of the profession, which is largely self-regulatory.
An elected Council has wide responsibilities for maintaining professional and
ethical standards. It is responsible for issuing practising certificates.
work of the Law Society includes investigating complaints made by members of the
public against solicitors (which may result in disciplinary proceedings); researching
and commenting on legislative proposals; setting and maintaining high standards
of work and ethical practice through practice rules, directions and guidelines;
and maintaining frequent contacts with legal professional bodies in other jurisdictions.
Law Society sets and monitors education and training standards for solicitors
and administers a scheme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) which is
mandatory for all trainee solicitors and all solicitors with practising certificates.
The scheme includes mandatory risk management education for all levels of the