University of Law to train first Hong Kong solicitor-advocates

The University of Law will train solicitors in Hong Kong to represent clients in court.

The Hong Kong Law Society and its education department, the Academy of Law, has appointed the University of Law, formerly the College of Law, to train solicitors in advocacy skills such as submissions, appellate advocacy and witness examination.

Until June last year, only barristers have been able to represent clients in Hogn Kong courts. The enactment of the Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Bill 2009 now allows solicitors to become solicitor-advocates and represent clients in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Court of Final Appeal (7 February 2013).

After being trained, solicitors will be assessed by the panel of senior solicitors, barristers and judges that makes up the Hong Kong Higher Rights Assessment Board before qualifying as solicitor-advocates. The first round of assessments should be completed in the spring.

The assessment board receieved 122 applications to become solicitor-advocates initially. Of those, 90 applicants applied to bypass training and assessment because of their prior advocacy experience, while 32 chose the training and assessment route.

English lawyers who qualified before 1997 automatically qualified in Hong Kong as well, meaning that those with extensive advocacy experience, such as solicitors who are also QCs, were able to bypass the advocacy training and assessment panel.

The University of Law was formerly the College of Law but was awarded university status in November last year and formally rebranded last week.

The University of Law has taken over Oxford Brookes’ discontinued legal practice course (13 February 2013).