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DOJ scheme offers practical experience

Published on Friday, 25 Jun 2010
Clifford Tavares and Alex Lee.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is looking for outstanding Postgraduate Certificate in Laws graduates and students to join its legal trainee scheme.

Trainees will undergo practical and professional training to satisfy the two-year solicitor training requirement of the Law Society of Hong Kong, or the one-year barrister training required by the Hong Kong Bar Association.

The experience of giving legal advice to government units and prosecuting cases distinguishes the scheme from legal trainee programmes in the private sector. After a six-week advocacy course, and two-week supervision on court work, all trainees will get the chance to handle prosecutions on their own during the half-year compulsory training.

"It's definitely the best bit for those who love going to court," says Alex Lee Wan-tang, the DOJ's senior assistant director of public prosecutions. "When most trainees in the private sector are jotting [down] notes for their boss in court, DOJ trainees have their own cases to present."

Another highlight is the three-month attachment period, when trainees can choose to intern in private firms or other government legal departments, such as the Legal Aid Department or the Intellectual Property Department.

"The programme is very comprehensive and serves as a platform to understand the operation and culture of both public and private sectors," says Clifford Tavares, who was a legal trainee in 2000 and is now a senior government counsel, civil division. "It's a privilege to gain such wide exposure in the early stages of a career." He says the scheme gives trainees a sense of importance, especially when they are involved in judicial reviews, law drafting and legal policy.

Candidates will be tested on analytical skills, legal knowledge, quick-wittedness and presentation skills in response to news articles during the selection interview.

"We ask candidates tricky questions, such as their views on transsexual marriage, not necessarily wanting the perfect answer, but to test their ability to apply legal knowledge and their rationale, and thinking process behind the answers," Lee says.

Last year, more than 200 applications were received for the scheme and 10 trainees were recruited. The entry salary for legal trainees is HK$36,740. The deadline for applications is 6pm on June 30. Find out more on

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