The Imposter

The regulatory jurisdiction of the Law Society extends to the conduct of a person who is, or was at the relevant time a Hong Kong solicitor, a registered foreign lawyer, a trainee solicitor or an employee of a solicitor or foreign lawyer.

A person must comply with all the statutory requirements before he is qualified to act as a Hong Kong solicitor or a registered foreign lawyer. For instance, to practise as a Hong Kong solicitor, he must fulfil the conditions set out in s. 7 of the Legal Practitioners Ordinance (Cap. 159) (“LPO”). In addition to being on the Roll of Solicitors, he must apply to the Law Society for membership as well as for a current practising certificate and comply with the professional indemnity insurance requirements.

To practise as a registered foreign lawyer, in addition to being qualified to practise law in a foreign jurisdiction, he must apply to the Law Society to be registered as a foreign lawyer in accordance with the requirements of the Foreign Lawyers’ Registration Rules (Cap. 159, Sub. Leg. S).

A law firm that carries on the business of practising as a Hong Kong solicitor (in the case of a sole practitioner) or as solicitors (in the case of a partnership) must provide its particulars in a prescribed form to the Law Society pursuant to the requirements in the Solicitors’ Practice Rules (Cap. 159, Sub. Leg. H). Similar requirements apply to a law firm operated by registered foreign lawyers carrying on the business of practising as foreign lawyers (Foreign Lawyers’ Practice Rules and Foreign Lawyers’ Registration Rules) (Cap. 159, Sub. Leg. R and S).

There was a recent news report about a “law firm” named “Lam Fung & Lee Solicitors”. The Law Society has no record of such a firm or the persons referred to in its publicity materials.

It is a criminal offence to pretend to be a solicitor. Section 46 of the LPO provides that “any unqualified person who wilfully pretends to be, or takes or uses any name, title, addition or description implying that he is qualified or recognised by law as qualified to act as, a solicitor shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of $500,000”. The matter has been reported to the Police.

The Law Society publishes a Law List containing the particulars of all solicitors that hold a current practising certificate and all foreign lawyers that are registered with the Law Society, as well as the particulars of all Hong Kong firms and foreign firms. The Law List is publicly accessible on the Law Society website. If there are further enquiries, you are welcome to contact our Registration Section. 

Connectivity: Mongolia

Globalisation creates global scale opportunities that were previously unavailable. To remain competitive, we must stay at the forefront of global trends. Forging strong ties and remaining connected to lawyers in overseas jurisdictions will enable us to stay abreast of these changes and prepare us to take advantage of new opportunities. This section briefly provides information about legal professionals in different jurisdictions to encourage you to start thinking about future business opportunities within a global context and to introduce you to potential partners in overseas jurisdictions that may help you to take advantage of them.

Mongolia is an emerging economy and its economic growth reached as high as 17 percent in 2011. It is the 19th largest country by size with a sparse population of about 3 million. It has a civil law system. The Mongolian Bar Association (“MBA”) was established in 2013 and is keen to reach out to the international community. It recently hosted the 2016 Conference for the Presidents of Law Associations of Asia (“POLA”) in Ulaanbaatar. The Law Society of Hong Kong was a participant. Membership of MBA is mandatory for all lawyers in Mongolia. There are currently 5,415 lawyers (including 524 judges and 507 prosecutors) registered with MBA. The gender ratio of lawyers is relatively balanced with 56.3 percent female and 43.7 percent male. With a population of 3 million, there is one lawyer in every 684 people. However, about 73.8 percent of the registered lawyers are based in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. 

Upcoming Deadlines

  • Those who have successfully applied to sit the 2016 Overseas Lawyers Qualification Examination are reminded that the closing date for registration to sit the Examination falls on Friday, 12 August 2016.
  • The professional indemnity cover for law firms for the 2015/2016 indemnity year will expire on Friday, 30 September 2016. To renew indemnity, principals of law firms should file an Application for Indemnity and a Gross Fee Income Report with the Scheme Manager, ESSAR Insurance Services Ltd (“ESSAR”) on or before 15 August 2016.

Monthly Statistics on the Profession

(updated as of 31 May 2016):

Members (with or without practising certificate) 10,089
Members with practising certificate 8,801
(out of whom, 6,661 (76%) are in private practice)
Trainee Solicitors 989
Registered foreign lawyers 1,339 (from 32 jurisdictions)
Hong Kong law firms 866 (48% are sole proprietorships and 41% are firms with 2 to 5 partners, 4 are limited liability partnerships formed pursuant to the Legal Practitioners Ordinance)
Registered foreign law firms 77 (7 are limited liability partnerships formed pursuant to the Legal Practitioners Ordinance)
Civil Celebrants 2,105
Reverse Mortgage Counsellors 445
Solicitor Advocates 39 (34 in civil proceedings, 5 in criminal proceedings)
Student Members 234
Registered Associations between Hong Kong law firms and registered foreign law firms (including Mainland law firms 32

 

Jurisdictions: 

Secretary-General, Law Society of Hong Kong