SCMP Friday, September 8, 2000

Young lawyers 'greedy, narrow '


Many young SAR lawyers have poor English skills, struggle to communicate with clients and are insensitive and greedy, a report on the profession says.
New entrants have a relatively narrow view of the world and are not competent with complex problems or issues outside the law, such as technology, according to a consultation paper on legal education and training. Many are preoccupied with conveyancing - legal work for home-buyers - because of easy money, says the report by Australian legal experts professors Paul Redmond and Christopher Roper.
Most world-class lawyers in the SAR are educated overseas, the report found. It suggests an English-language proficiency test be introduced before students can start a degree or before their admission to a practice.
The report urges a review of how legal training is structured. It is now in two parts: a three-year Bachelor of Law programme followed by a one-year Postgraduate Certificate of Law course. One suggestion is to make the course two years.
Anthony Chow Wing-kin, immediate past president of the Law Society, said: "I wouldn't say Hong Kong's legal education is not comparable to other countries but I do think a review is necessary. If Hong Kong is to maintain its niche as a leading financial centre, it had better maintain a good standard in English, and Chinese as well."
David Smith, acting dean of City University's law school, said a broader range of skills was needed, but the education system did not allow that.
A government-appointed steering committee reviewing legal education and training commissioned the report.