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Barristers

Barristers are one of the two streams of the legal profession. The other stream is solicitors.

The traditional work of barristers is advocacy - they present cases in court, where their ability to speak and to think quickly "on their feet" as the evidence unfolds is what they are skilled in. Barrister will be "briefed" (instructed) by a solicitor - it is the solicitor who first contacts the client and has initial conduct of the case. However, the barrister is to a fair extent independent of the solicitor and can take an independent judgment as to how to conduct the case. Barristers are occasionally advocates in magistrates’ courts, but they mainly work in the District Court and Family Court (it is possible to have a solicitor advocate), the High Court or in appeal courts.

Related to this advocacy work, barristers also deal with advice on litigation and the drafting of documents ("pleadings") related to litigation.

Most solicitors are graduates with a law degree. They must also undertake professional training both by a one year studying either at the University of Hong Kong or the CityU for the Postgraduate Certificate in Laws. They then go through a pupillage with a qualified barrister. More senior barristers can apply to become a Senior Counsel ("take silk").

Barristers are all sole practititoners, but they often share premises ("chambers") and administrative staff. The barristers’ profession is regulated by the Hong Kong Bar Association which deals with matters such as training, qualifications and complaints.


Solicitors

Solicitors are one of the two streams of the legal profession. The other stream is barristers.

Solicitors undertake most of the work in magistrates’ courts, Family Court and District Courts - both preparation of cases and also advocacy.

Litigation is only a small part of the work of the solicitor’s profession as a whole. Some are involved in commercial work relating to business eg dealing with commercial transactions, corporate matters, land, share and other property dealings. There is also a large amount of private client work which does not involve any litigation (if all goes to plan!) such as the conveyancing of houses, making wills, advising on tax matters and so on.

Solicitors May Advertise

Solicitors in Hong Kong are permitted to advertise their business. It is common to find solicitors putting up advertisements on newspaper, TV and mini-bus. They provide legal services to individuals who look for affordable rate of legal fees. Therefore, it is not surprising to find to lawyer who is prepared to draft and attest a deed poll for change of a person's name for $500. Some law firms set up sub-offices serving the needs of local clients.

Most solicitors are graduates with a law degree. They must also undertake professional training both by a one year studying either at the University of Hong Kong or the CityU for the Postgraduate Certificate in Laws. They then have to undergo two years of training contract with a solicitor in practice.

Solicitors operate in Solo or partnerships.

The solicitors’ profession is regulated by the Hong Kong Law Society which deals with matters such as training, qualifications and complaints. Most law firms are very small in size. They have 3 to 5 solicitors and not more than 20 clerical staff in support. Partnerships having 5 or more partners or firms with more than 10 solicitors are regarded as big firms.