PREVIOUS COLUMNS of Lexicon have explored issues concerning the regulation of lawyers, both domestic lawyers and foreign lawyers, in mainland China and other jurisdictions (see China Business Law Journal volume 1 issue 6: Terms for describing lawyers and why they matter; volume 3 issue 4: I solemnly swear; volume 4 issue 6: Partnership; volume 4 issue 7: Liberalisation and integration; and volume 7 issue 5: Legal services and FTAs). This column considers the purpose of bar examinations as a prerequisite to admission to practice. It begins by examining the announcement by the Law Society of Hong Kong to introduce a bar examination by 2021. It then outlines the position in two other jurisdictions, Singapore and mainland China, and concludes by noting some of the arguments for and against bar examinations.


Following a consultation process that began in 2013, the Law Society of Hong Kong announced in January 2016 that a common entrance examination (CEE) would be introduced by 2021. Under the announcement, a person would be able to enter into a trainee solicitor contract only if that person had passed the CEE. The CEE would be set and marked by the Law Society.

The announcement stated that the purposes of the CEE were: (1) to uphold the quality of the entrants to the solicitors’ profession; (2) to provide access to those who had the ability to qualify as a solicitor; and (3) to maintain the standards of the profession and to protect public interest.

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葛安德 Andrew Godwin
Andrew Godwin

A former partner of Linklaters Shanghai, Andrew Godwin teaches law at Melbourne Law School in Australia, where he is an associate director of its Asian Law Centre. Andrew’s new book is a compilation of China Business Law Journal’s popular Lexicon series, entitled China Lexicon: Defining and translating legal terms. The book is published by Vantage Asia and available at