Law Ministry Accepts Recommendations to Strengthen Professional Training of Lawyers
1 The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) announced today that it has accepted in principle the recommendations of the Committee for the Professional Training of Lawyers on strengthening the professional training regime for lawyers in Singapore. The key recommendations include: (a) uncoupling admission to the Bar from the completion of a practice training contract; (b) lengthening the practice training period from six months to one year; and (c) raising the standard and stringency of Part B of the Singapore Bar Examinations. The Committee also made 17 other specific recommendations to address discrete issues within the professional training regime. The implementation of these recommendations will help raise the quality of legal training and better equip law graduates with the necessary expertise to meet the demands of the future economy and society.
2 MinLaw will work with stakeholders, including the Law Society of Singapore and the Singapore Institute of Legal Education, on the implementation of the recommendations. The three key recommendations will be implemented from the 2023 session of Part B of the Singapore Bar Examinations onwards, to give the industry time to adjust. The majority of students currently in law school will not be affected by these changes.
3 The Committee for the Professional Training of Lawyers was set up by the Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon in August 2016 to conduct a root-and-branch review of the professional training regime and to make recommendations on how it might be modified to raise the quality and consistency of training standards across law practices. The Committee was chaired by Justice Quentin Loh and comprised 14 other members including representatives from the Supreme Court, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, MinLaw, the Law Society of Singapore, the Singapore Corporate Counsel Association and various Singapore law practices (see composition in Annex A). Following the completion of the Committee’s work, its report was submitted for MinLaw’s consideration earlier this year.
Uncoupling admission to the Bar from the practice training contract
4 MinLaw has carefully considered and accepted in principle the Committee’s recommendation to uncouple admission to the Bar from the completion of a practice training contract. This will allow law graduates who fulfil the requirements to be qualified persons to be admitted to the Bar without the need to undergo practice training, and will benefit those who intend to pursue alternative careers. Those who wish to practise law would still need to complete a practice training contract before they can obtain a practising certificate. The proposed change recognises that a legal education can lead to different career pathways, and allows law graduates greater flexibility and choice. This recommendation will apply to qualified persons who pass Part B from the 2023 session onwards.
Lengthening the practice training period from six months to one year
5 MinLaw has carefully considered and accepted in principle the Committee’s recommendation to lengthen the duration of the practice training contract from six months to one year. As the Committee explained in its report, a longer period of mentorship will allow practice trainees to develop a strong foundation from which they may then carve for themselves a sustainable and fulfilling career in legal practice. By way of comparison, the practice training period for solicitors in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Hong Kong is two years. This recommendation will apply to qualified persons who pass Part B from the 2023 session onwards. This will allow those who wish to pursue law to take the longer practice training period into account before they enrol into a law school. It will also give law practices more time to make the necessary adjustments.
Raising the standard and stringency of Part B
6 MinLaw has carefully considered and accepted in principle the Committee’s recommendation to raise the standard and stringency of Part B of the Singapore Bar Examinations. This is necessary to maintain the high standards of the Bar and ensure that new lawyers are equipped to meet the challenges of the modern professional environment. This recommendation will be implemented from the 2023 session of Part B onwards.
7 MinLaw has also accepted in principle 17 other specific recommendations made by the Committee to address discrete issues within the professional training regime. These relate to training standards, as well as the processes involved in applying for and obtaining practice training contracts. These 17 recommendations, which will support the new professional training regime, will be implemented in consultation with the relevant stakeholders (e.g. Supreme Court, the Law Society of Singapore, the Singapore Institute of Legal Education, law practices, and law schools) over the next five years. The full list of recommendations is in Annex B.
 Qualified persons refer to local law graduates from the National University of Singapore, Singapore Management University and Singapore University of Social Sciences, and overseas law graduates from approved universities, who have met the requisite degree standards and other requirements, as set out in the Legal Profession (Qualified Persons) Rules. For more information about being a qualified person, please refer to the website of the Singapore Institute of Legal Education.
Please click on the image below for the infographic explaining the key changes to the admission and training of lawyers