After completing at least six months of their stint, these trainees can choose to apply for a provisional practising certificate, which allows them to appear in court and give advice to clients under supervision.
Ms Rahayu Mahzam, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Health, told the House: “The first batch of law graduates under the new admission framework will commence their practice training period, or PTP, in January 2025. Upon completing their PTP, they will be better equipped to hit the ground running.”
She noted in her speech that in other countries and territories such as France, Germany and Hong Kong, there is also emphasis on practice training to complement formal education where solicitors are required to undergo two years of training. The changes came from recommendations made in 2018 by a committee that was tasked by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon to review the professional training and admission regime of lawyers in
On Tuesday, MPs spoke in support of the Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill, which aims to better equip law graduates with the relevant skills and competencies to meet the demands of Singapore’s future economy and society.
They also expressed concerns about fair remuneration and benefits such as paid sick leave, with the training period being extended.
Mr Patrick Tay (Pioneer) said that while the intent of lengthening the practice training period is a noble one, it must be balanced against the adverse financial impact on trainees.
He said trainee lawyers typically work long hours and are paid meagre honoraria of $1,000 to $2,500 a month, in comparison with their peers in other industries, who draw between $3,500 and $5,000 each month.
Mr Yip Hon Weng (Yio Chu Kang) suggested mandating a minimum wage for trainees, similar to what housemen are paid in the medical field.
Ms Rahayu said that practice training is, at its core, an apprenticeship where aspiring legal practitioners seek out mentors to guide them in the industry and provide opportunities for practical exposure.
On this basis, practice trainees typically receive honoraria but do not receive employee benefits such as paid leave or Central Provident Fund contributions.
She encouraged law firms to provide fair and reasonable honoraria that recognise trainees’ contributions and allow them to meet their financial obligations.
Ms Rahayu said the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) had considered mandating a minimum quantum, but such a measure is prescriptive, introduces rigidity, and would need to be constantly reviewed to account for prevailing conditions.
“The quantum also risks being set above what some small (law firms) can afford, and will also have the inadvertent effect of reducing the number of training places,” she said.
She said the Law Society will continue to monitor the industry trends.
She added that MinLaw, the Singapore Institute of Legal Education and the Law Society are already looking into granting leave days and medical leave to support trainees through the practice training period. More details will be announced in due course.
Under the existing framework, law graduates have to pass Part B of the Singapore Bar examinations and complete a six-month training contract with a law firm before they can be admitted to the Bar to practise as lawyers.
The Bill separates admission to the Bar from the completion of the training contract.
Law graduates who pass the Part B examinations but have not completed practice training can now be admitted to the Bar as a lawyer (non-practitioner).
An individual in this category cannot practise in law firms but can adopt alternative pathways, such as becoming in-house counsel or going into academia.
A lawyer (non-practitioner) who wishes to practise in law firms can be admitted as an advocate and solicitor after completing the prescribed practice training.
The Bill also allows trainees to complete up to three months of their practice training at in-house legal departments of approved corporations.