Aspiring barristers may be required to take compulsory courses under an advanced legal education programme proposed by the Bar Association. Under the scheme, the Bar Council - the executive branch of the Bar - may refuse to issue practising certificates to law graduates if they fail to accumulate enough credit points by attending extra lectures and workshops, said the chairman of the legal education committee, barrister Edward Chan King-sang, SC. Mr Chan said it was an attempt by the Bar to improve the quality of new lawyers in view of the declining standard of law graduates in recent years. Chief Justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang has said the standard of law graduates joining the Postgraduate Certificate in Laws (PCLL) course - the compulsory one-year course for law graduates intending to become a barrister or solicitor - must be substantially raised. After the PCLL course, law graduates take a one-year apprenticeship with two or three practising barristers in criminal or civil law before being formally admitted as barristers. They also have to apply for a practising certificate, which is renewed annually. Mr Chan said the advanced legal education programme had been in existence since 1998, but was operated on a voluntarily basis. Under the new proposal, it would be compulsory for pupils to join the programme and gain the required credits. The proposal is likely to be considered by the Legislative Council in September.