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Bar Council's plan for junior lawyers comes under fire
Published:  Mar 16, 2016 8:55 AM
Updated: 10:25 AM

DAP Seri Delima assemblyperson RSN Rayer is against the motion to make it compulsory for lawyers who have less than five years of practice to acquire continuing professional development (CPD) points.

Rayer wants the Bar Council to withdraw the motion, describing it as "grossly unfair" as it targets only junior lawyers.

He urged the Bar Council to abandon the motion less it be labelled a “tool of oppression” used by senior lawyers against their juniors.

"It is already tough for junior lawyers who are just beginning to venture into the legal profession everywhere in the country to make a decent living, given the escalating costs of living, cost of rental, demand of minimum wages and given the various other developments," Rayer said in a press statement today.

"One example of the current developmemt is the introduction of Yayasan Bantuan Guaman Kerajaan which has taken away the chunk of work for criminal lawyers," he added.

"The high number of fresh advocates and solicitors being admitted to the Bar every year and the mushrooming of new legal firms make it even more challenging for junior lawyers to get work," he said.

"What about the bulk of corporate legal work being monopolised by big legal firms?" he asked.

Bar Council chairmam Steven Thiru plans to table the motion at the council's annual general meeting this Saturday.

If passed, lawyers who have less than five years of practice will be compelled to acquire a given number of CPD points every year.

This will be done by forcing then to attend compulsory training programme every year, failing which they would be fined up to RM500.

Rayer said the motion, if passed and adopted, will affect 6,000 lawyers nationwide.

He urged this affected group to descend on the Renaissance Hotel in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday to oppose the motion and vote against it.

He said there is no rationale behind the motion as the Bar Council would be clearly passing a motion which is ultra vires the Legal Profession Act of 1976.

He added this can be challenged in court for being “unconstitutional” as the proposed motion could clearly infringe Article 8 of the federal constitution, which states that all persons are equal before the law and deserve equal protection before the law.

He added that all fresh graduates already have to go through compulsory chambering or pupilage period for nine months under an advocate and solicitor who has been in practice for seven years.

Rayer said during the chambering period, the pupil or trainee lawyer is also required to sit and pass a compulsory ethics examination as an added requirement before being called to the Bar.

"And, if after all this, the Bar finds that the junior lawyers are still lacking in ability, it should be the master of the junior lawyers and the Bar Council as a whole who should be blamed for lacking the ability to train junior lawyers to meet the expected standards and challenges of the legal profession today," he added.

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