Stop injustice against chambering students, young lawyers tell Bar Council

KUALA LUMPUR: The Young Lawyers Movement (YLM) is urging the Bar Council to draw up a ruling for firms to pay the minimum wage to chambering students.

Members of YLM gathered at the sidelines of the Bar Council's extraordinary general meeting at Wisma MCA, here, on Friday (May 27), to stand in solidarity with underpaid chambering students.

This was in response to the recent statements by Bar Council president, Karen Cheah in an interview with a news portal saying that implementing a minimum pay for pupils would be counterproductive to small legal firms.

However, Cheah added that a guideline was underway for the minimum wage of chambering students.

YLM spokesman Vince Tan told the media that the Bar Council should protect the rights of young lawyers instead of business entities, adding that a guideline was simply not enough and a proper ruling is due.

Currently, Tan shared that pupils in chamber were paid as low as RM300 a month.

"Many people are leaving the profession because their rights are not protected.

"Some pupils in chambers have mouths to feed and some are not paid enough to cover even food expenditure let alone rent, car maintenance or others.

"Now we can see that more students are voicing out as compared to before because there was a culture of fear.

"Back then when one pupil voiced out, there would be 10 senior lawyers cornering the pupil," he said.

Tan said the Bar Council should stop exploitations of chambering students, adding that the legal profession should move forward with time and to start competing with other overseas firms.

Also standing in solidarity was Khairul Shahrizan of small legal firm Shahrizan & Co, who suggested a remuneration of at least RM3,000 for pupils in chamber at law firms.

"That is my personal view but if the government can implement a minimum wage of RM1,500, what makes the legal profession so special that they cannot implement it?

"If you can take a pupil for chambering, it means that you have been in practice for at least seven years so if you cannot afford to pay at least that then you need to reflect on your financial standing," he said.

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