1. When do I commence pupillage?
You may start your pupillage as soon as you have filed your Petition. Date of filing of Borang 1 and 2 is the date of commencement of pupillage.
2. How do I know if my law degree or the universities where I am pursuing my law
degree is recognised?
You should have made your query before you even commenced your law course. In any event, do inquire at the Legal Profession Qualifying Board, Malaysia. Indeed any or all queries concerning qualifications that may entitle a person to become a qualified person for the purposes of the Legal Profession Act should be directed to the Qualifying Board. (Tel: (603) 2260 1368 / 1369, Fax: (603) 2276 1929 or email: email@example.com. Website: www.lpqb.org.my)
3. Is there a time-limit for starting pupillage?
4. Where do I start?
Choose a firm. Places for pupillage are often advertised on the KL Bar website and the Malaysian Bar website. Some firms also advertise on the notice board in the Bar Room in Court and in the newspapers.
5. What am I required to do when I commence pupillage?
The firm you choose will allocate you with a pupil master who will be responsible for you during pupillage. You must immediately e-file the relevant forms with the High Court of Malaya at Kuala Lumpur. Many firms provide their pupils with assistance in the filing of their Admission to the Bar papers and some firms would bear the expenses. You may wish to ascertain this during your interview. If your firm does not organise this for you, you may purchase the Petition for Admission Forms from the Bar Council. See “Filing of Initial Petition for Admission Papers” under eGuide for guidance on the filing of the relevant forms.
6. How do I decide where to do my pupillage?
Most firms require a written application and will decide on whether to offer you a position based on your resume and how you perform during the interview. Candidates choose firms based on different reasons including the areas of law that interest you, the nature of training and guidance given, etc. You would be well advised to visit the firms’ websites, speak to someone who has undergone pupillage in that particular firm, and make your own personal inquiries from friends, colleagues or members of the Bar whom you may know or have met if possible, before you make a decision.
7. How long is pupillage?
Nine (9) months.
8. Is pupillage full time?
Yes. It is the pupil’s duty to apply him or herself full-time to pupillage. A pupil is not allowed to “moonlight” during pupillage unless they obtain special leave in writing from the Bar Council.
8. Who can be my pupil master?
An Advocate and Solicitor who is in possession of a valid practising certificate and has been in active practice in Malaysia for a total period of not less than seven years is eligible. You are advised to check the status of your pupil master with the Bar Council Membership Department before you commence pupillage (Tel: (603) 2050 2191 / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
10. Can I serve as a pupil to a relative who is an Advocate and Solicitor?
Yes, even your spouse, child, sibling or parent can take you on as a pupil.
11. How many pupils can a pupil master have at any one time?
Unless there is approval of the Bar Council, a pupil master may not take on more than two (2) pupils at any one time.
12. Should I expect to work closely with my pupil master?
Ideally, you should be closely supervised by your pupil master. However, different pupils have different experiences. You may wish to make this inquiry during your interview.
13. What do I do if I do not possess a minimum credit in my Bahasa Malaysia SPM exam paper or I never sat for the SPM in the first place?
You may sit for an oral examination in Bahasa Malaysia conducted by the Qualifying Board. See “Bahasa Malaysia (“BM”) Requirement for Pupils” under eGuide for guidance. Alternatively you may sit for the GCE ‘O’ Level Bahasa Malaysia examination.
14. What kind of exposure and work should I expect during my pupillage?
You should expect to gain exposure in the practice of your chosen legal firm. Some firms have policies of allotting a pupil to a certain department or practice group, some firms put their pupils on a rotation system and in other firms it is very much a free for all situations. You would be well advised to find out what work and exposure is given to the pupils during your interviews with the different firms.
15. Am I expected to carry out work that is meant to be done by legal clerks like despatch, filing or other administrative work like photocopying and binding documents?
There have been instances where pupils have been asked to carry out the work of clerks and other administrative persons in law firms. Although in a busy legal practice, it may be understandable that pupils may be asked at times to assist in some urgent administrative work, pupils are certainly not expected to substitute the work of office clerks on a full time basis. It should be noted that administrative work forms part and parcel of legal practice. It is a useful skill and valuable knowledge when you commence your practice. You should not view it as something beneath you.
16. Should I expect to be paid during pupillage?
Almost all firms pay their pupils some form of allowance. Pupils should also expect to be reimbursed for any incidental expenses incurred due to work carried out on certain client files like travelling to Court, etc. Don’t be shy to inquire about the amount of allowance, claims and benefits during your interviews.
17. Can I take a break during pupillage?
Pupillage is intended not only to be full time but continuous. The Legal Profession Act does not contemplate a break during pupillage. But if you need to take a break or go on leave during your period of pupillage, PRIOR written consent of your Master and the Bar Council must be sought and obtained and the number of days taken (including medical leave) must be replaced before the expiry of your period of pupillage.
18. Can I be in different offices from my master?
No. Some firms have branches in different parts of Malaysia. You must ensure that you and your master are in the same office at all times even if your firm has branches elsewhere.
19. Does a pupil require professional indemnity insurance?
A pupil does not have to take his or her own insurance as he or she should be covered by the firm’s insurance.
20. Do I have rights of audience in Court during pupillage?
Only after you have obtained the appropriate Order of the Court which is commonly referred to as the ‘short call’ order under Section 36(2) of the Legal Profession Act; you will have rights of audience before a Judge or a Registrar in chambers in the High Court, Sessions Court and Magistrates Court. Three months after the date of the said Order, you will have additional rights of audience before a Magistrate in open court. You do not have any rights of audience in open Court matters in the High Court or in the Sessions Court during your pupillage. You are allowed to appear on behalf of your master to mention cases in chambers and open Court in the Industrial Court. You do not, however, have rights of audience in the Syariah Court.
21. Can I argue contested matters during my pupillage?
After you have secured the said Order above and after the lapse of three months from the date the said Order was given, you are entitled to argue all matters, including contested matters within your limited rights of audience. However, many firms have a policy of not allowing their pupils to represent clients for contested matters.
22. Can I hold a watching brief in Court?
Yes, a pupil can hold a watching brief in any Court in which the pupil has a right of audience.
23. How do I introduce myself in Court?
You must identify yourself as a pupil-in-chambers or “pelatih-dalam-kamar” and state the name of your pupil master.
24. Can I mention on behalf of Solicitors or pupils or any other person from other firms?
No. If the opposing counsel is not present, you may if you wish, undertake to inform your opposing counsel of the outcome of any Court attendance.
25. What do I do at the end of my pupillage?
At the end of your nine months, you must secure your master’s signature on a Certificate of Diligence confirming that you have been duly observing your pupillage. You must then prepare the papers for your Admission to the Bar and ascertain from the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Bar Council and the Bar Committee of the State in which you are undergoing your pupillage if they or any one of them have any objections to you being admitted as an Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya.
26. What do I do if my master refuses to sign my Certificate of Diligence?
You may seek the assistance of the Bar Council. Bar Council Ruling No. 10.02(3) states that a master shall not refuse to issue a Certificate of Diligence unless it is for reasons acceptable to the Bar Council.
27. Can I change master during my nine months?
Yes, you must obtain consent from the Bar Council and file a Notice of Change of Master in Court. Click here for a sample of the Notice of Change of Master. The Notice must be served on the Bar Council, the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Bar Committee of the State in which you are undergoing your pupillage (see item 7 under eGuide for mode of service). If your new master is practising in a different state from your previous master, then you would have to serve the said Notice on the Bar Committee of the State of your new master together with a set of Borang 1 and 2. Your new master would have to apply for a new “short call” order under Section 36(2) of the Legal Profession Act for you to appear on his/her behalf or of the firm in which he/she is practising.
28. Am I required to carry out legal aid work during my pupillage?
Yes, the Bar Council requires you to complete a minimum of 14 days of legal aid duty during your pupillage.
29. When and where do I register for the compulsory 14 days legal aid duty?
Immediately upon your commencement of pupillage at the Bar Council Legal Aid Centre of the State where you are undergoing your pupillage.
30. Is it compulsory for me to attend the Pupils Introduction Session organised by the Kuala Lumpur Bar Committee (“KLBC”)?
Yes, you must attend the Pupils Introduction Session if you are undergoing your pupillage in Kuala Lumpur. When you start your pupillage in Kuala Lumpur you will receive notification from the KLBC about the Introduction Session and a date will be fixed for you to attend the Session. If you are unable to attend at the appointed time or if you are facing objections from your firm/pupil master, you should contact the KL Bar Secretariat.
31. Can I apply for exemption from serving the full nine months period of pupillage?
Yes, the Bar Council has the discretion to grant exemption for a period of up to six (6) months upon application. If there are special circumstances justifying a shortening of your pupillage, if you have been a pupil or read in the chambers of a legal practitioner in active private practice in the commonwealth of more than seven (7) years standing or if you have been engaged in active practice as a legal practitioner in any part of the commonwealth for not less than six (6) months, you would be well advised to seek some exemption. The Bar Council can only however grant up to six (6) months of exemption.
32. Can lawyers from the firm where I am serving my pupillage be named as my referees?
Yes, as long as they have already been admitted as an Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya and have known you for more than five (5) years.
33. Can I continue to work in my pupil master’s office after the end of my pupillage?
Yes, but you cease to be a pupil and would not have any rights of audience in Court until and unless you have been admitted and enrolled as an Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya and have obtained a valid practising certificate.
34. Can a foreigner apply for admission as an Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya?
No, unless he/she has permanent residence status.
35. Can I attend the Annual General Meeting of the Bar Council and/or the Annual General Meeting of State Bars?
Yes, you may attend as an observer but you are not eligible to vote or speak.
36. What if I cannot find the answer to my question in this FAQ or eGuide for Pupils?
Forward your question by e-mail to email@example.com if you are commencing or undergoing your pupillage in Kuala Lumpur. Otherwise, contact the respective State Bar Committee where you are undergoing your pupillage or the Bar Council.