New Blood

The 3+3+4 academic structure was implemented with the introduction of the new senior secondary curriculum in 2009. In 2012, the last cohort of Form 7 students taking the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination and the first cohort of Form 6 students taking the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education proceeded to tertiary education.

Time flies. While the discussions on how the PCLL providers had to prepare for the double cohort seemed to have taken place not too long ago, this very double cohort will in fact be graduating in a few months’ time.

“Double” seems to imply a two-fold increase. Fortunately, it is not as daunting as it sounds. Comparing the number of full time PCLL admissions in 2015/16 and 2016/17 (the double cohort year), the difference is about 17 percent (581 for 2015/16 and 680 for 2016/17). There will potentially be 100 additional PCLL graduates entering the job market in the third quarter of 2017.

The solicitors’ profession in Hong Kong is a relatively young profession. About 30 percent of our practising certificate holders were admitted within the period 2010 to 2015 and the double cohort graduates will further increase the percentage within this range.

On one hand, it is encouraging to have a good supply of new talent. On the other, it is hoped that the supply can be absorbed and effectively utilised by the legal service market. One aspect that may be of interest is the impact on the salary of trainees. We have recently done a survey of trainees’ salary range. The average monthly salary for a first year trainee is HK$29,993 and for a second year trainee HK$31,079 whereas the median monthly salary for both first and second years’ trainees is HK$25,000.

This range is roughly compatible with some overseas jurisdictions as variations like the local living standard and other circumstances must be taken into account. Singapore’s average monthly salary for graduates after completing the one year practical law course / pupillage is S$4,866 (about HK$26,481) based on a survey conducted by the Ministry of Education in Singapore in November 2015. In Scotland, the recommended salary for trainee solicitors from June 2016 is £17,545 annually (about HK$14,351 monthly) and for a second year trainee is £21,012 (about HK$17,187 monthly). In November 2016, the Law Society of England & Wales recommended, as a matter of good practice, that providers of training contracts should pay their trainees a minimum salary of £20,276 annually (about HK$16,585 monthly) in London and £18,183 (about HK$14,873 monthly) outside of London.

Remuneration is certainly not the only factor, but a respectable remuneration package is important in attracting new blood into the profession. Employers play a crucial role in facilitating the healthy development of the profession by offering to new entrants a decent package that is commensurate with the demands of the job. Based on the figures, most have fulfilled that role.

Connectivity: Slovenia

This section aims to provide information about the legal professions in less well known but emerging jurisdictions. In this instalment, we look at Slovenia that has the potential to be our business partner in a global context.

Slovenia is situated in the south of Central Europe, strategically between the Balkans and Western Europe and within the scope of the Belt and Road Initiative. It has one of the highest per capita GDPs in Central Europe and is a location of choice for many international companies.

Slovenia adopts a civil law system based on the German system and its legal profession is fused. There are currently over 260 law firms and around 1,700 attorneys and 350 trainee attorneys. With a population of around 2 million, the ratio is approximately one attorney for every 1,213 people.

To become an attorney in Slovenia, among other requirements, one must be a citizen of the Republic of Slovenia. One must have obtained the relevant academic qualifications in law, passed the state bar examination, then completed one year’s full-time employment with a law firm, or in court, or the office of the state prosecutor, public defender or notary, and have passed a test of knowledge of the law regulating the legal professional conduct with the Slovenian Bar Association. All legal proceedings are conducted in Slovene as the official language, but there are law firms which specialise in providing services to English speaking clients.

Jurisdictions: 

Secretary-General, Law Society of Hong Kong