Strengthening the Professional Training Regime for Lawyers in Singapore
3 October 2023 Posted in Press releases
1. The Ministry of Law (“MinLaw”) introduced the Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill (the “Bill”) for First Reading in Parliament today.
2. The Bill, when passed, will strengthen the professional training regime for lawyers in Singapore and better equip law graduates with the necessary skills and competencies to meet the demands of the future economy and society. The proposed amendments will lift overall standards within the professional training regime, complementing other ongoing efforts to enhance legal education for a future-ready legal workforce.
3. The Bill introduces key amendments to implement the recommendations of the Committee for the Professional Training of Lawyers (“CPTL”), and makes other miscellaneous and technical amendments to the Legal Profession Act (“LPA”).
4. The Bill makes the following legislative amendments in order to give effect to the CPTL’s recommendations1:
(i) Decouple admission to the Singapore Bar from the completion of a practice training contract;
(ii) Lengthen the practice training period from six months to one year;
(iii) Confer on practice trainees limited rights to practise after six months of training;
(iv) Permit up to three months of the practice training contract to be completed at approved in-house legal departments of approved corporations; and
(v) Introduce a moratorium for practice training contract applications.
5. To give effect to 4(i), the Bill creates a new framework to admit a new category of “lawyer (non-practitioner)” (“lawyer (NP)”).
a. As a lawyer (NP) does not have a right to practise, a qualified person may be admitted as a lawyer (NP) after passing Part B of the Singapore Bar Examinations but without undergoing practice training.
b. Practice training will only be compulsory for a lawyer (NP) who wishes to be subsequently admitted as an advocate and solicitor. Please see Annex for a comparison between the old and new admission regimes.
6. To give effect to 4(iii), the Bill repeals the LPA’s current “part-call” provisions and replaces them with a new framework for provisional practising certificates (“Provisional PCs”). After completing a prescribed period of six months of practice training out of the required total of 12 months, a lawyer (NP) who is a practice trainee may apply for a Provisional PC to practise provisionally under the supervision of a solicitor.
7. The substantive elements of 4(ii), 4(iv) and 4(v) will be given effect to via subsidiary legislation.
8. The Bill also makes other miscellaneous and consequential amendments necessary to operationalise the new lawyer (NP) admission and provisional PC frameworks.
MINISTRY OF LAW
3 October 2023
Annex: Comparison between Current and New Admission Regimes
1. For more information on the CPTL’s recommendations, refer to the full report by CPTL and MinLaw’s press releases (“In-principle acceptance by MinLaw of the recommendations by the CPTL”, August 2018; “Deferment of Implementation of Recommendations of the Committee for the Professional Training of Lawyers”, February 2023).↩
Last updated on 3 October 2023