Juniors may get chance to work in free legal service

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 February, 2008, 12:00am

Junior barristers may be hired to assist their seniors in handling cases in the Bar Council's free legal service scheme as they are finding it increasingly difficult to find work.

Bar chairman Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung SC, who raised the proposal in a council meeting this month, said the aim was to increase learning opportunities and improve the livelihoods of new barristers.

At present, only veteran counsel are asked to tackle pro bono, or free-of-charge, cases. But under the new scheme, a junior barrister would work with a senior in every case for a 'slightly more than nominal fee'.

The council will work out how much money they can allocate to the scheme and the number of junior members who can benefit. About 80 juniors join the Bar each year, compared with about 10 in the 1980s.

'We cannot deny that livelihood is an issue,' Mr Yuen said. 'The hard fact is that we have many people at the junior end of the Bar. The Bar Association can only try our best to improve the working environment. We cannot force solicitors to pick this or that barrister for their case.'

A first-year law student said he supported the proposal and called on the Bar to provide more exposure for new members.

'I learned from people in the field it is getting increasingly tough for new entrants to the Bar to find cases in their first five to six years,' he said.