引述自 律師會會長 熊運信 於2015年法律年度開啟典禮致辭全文
香港法律界一直以來劃分“事務律師” 與 “大律師”，儘管法律界人士（尤其事務律師）大概從當見習律師的第一天開始費盡唇舌向身邊所有親戚朋友解釋： “大律師” 並非比 “事務律師” 高級，但這個錯覺一直在民間根深蒂固，以為事務律師在若干年後夠出色的話可以“升”做大律師。
在PCLL的一年裏面，學生可以作出選擇：要成為事務律師，還是大律師？ 這與閣下成績完全無關係，完全取決於閣下的意向。而且，大律師可堪稱全港最貧富懸殊的行業，極少數精英分子（會考10A也不夠，必須在牛津劍橋一級榮譽畢業，拿10個獎學金，在Temple Chambers等頂級Chambers執業者）頭幾年執業已經可以月入10萬至30萬，成為資深大律師後更是每日出庭可收50萬費用。但是，尤其在近年，部份大律師，尤其新入行者，賺的錢比最低工資更少，因為 i) 每一位大律師必須自己交租，不同於事務律師領薪金； ii）近年大律師界別人才供過於求； iii）多得2007年的民事司法改革(Civil Justice Reform)，根本沒那麼多案件打：事務律師處理所有案件時必須多次考慮與建議和解而盡量不要上庭，請大狀的機會更少更沒必要了。
傳統來說，在訴訟方面，大律師在任何法院，包括高等法院以上均有發言權，而事務律師的發言權則侷限於區域法院或以下，以及高等法院的內庭聆訊及少部分公開聆訊的案件。因此，打大官司(任何涉及金額一百萬元以上的民事案件 要上高等法院) ，除了事務律師以外，必須延聘一位大律師，因事務律師沒有發言權。
但是近年，香港跟隨英國等普通法國家放寬事務律師的發言權，有部分在訴訟領域資深而且在行內享負盛名的事務律師獲得 “Higher rights of audience” 可以與大律師一樣在任何法院發言，包括終審法院。
雖然至2015年為止，獲得Higher rights of audience的事務律師仍算少數，不足以影響大律師的行業生態，但無疑已經打開了一個潘朵拉的盒子：在訴訟領域，事務律師的角色將會越來越成為主導，而大律師如此古老的行業（試想想：在這個 FB 與 iPhone 的時代，大律師竟然還要帶一個其實幾騎呢的白色假髮，上庭開口埋口要講100年前的英語，稱呼法官做 “My Lord” 意思是勳爵爺，雖然中文則稱作法官閣下，當大律師的徒弟又沒有任何酬勞也不受勞工法保障，慘過做黑工） 將慢慢被邊緣化。
時至2015年，大律師的獨特性本來已如風中殘燭，行內大部分人收入非常不穩定，尤其初入行者人人自危 （可能共產黨也樂見這現象）。但是，雪上加霜的事終於發生了： 事務律師也可以成為 “資深大律師” Senior Counsel了。
一直以來，“資深大律師” （即97年前御用大律師 Queen’s Counsel) 只留給大律師：打無數的官司，在某範疇的官司獨當一面後，可以獲委任為資深大律師，從此身價再升幾倍。 而且，資深大律師的頭銜象徵權威，在一個會議裏面，一開口所有人都會聽他講話，包括那位非常成功的事務律師樓合夥人，也得聽SC 的一槌定音。
如今，連事務律師也可獲得資深大律師的頭銜了。 那麼，選擇做大律師還有什麼意義？ 這樣的政策，是否嚴重地向事務律師傾斜呢?
希望大律師與事務律師向本網反映你的看法，可以在以下留言，如不想公開身份也可發電郵到 : Stealjobs.firstname.lastname@example.org
I have read the article “事務律師可獲資深大律師SC名銜!趕絶大狀“.
The title is misleading. Solicitors (事務律師) may apply for the title of Senior Counsel (資深律師 or 資深事務律師). However, they are not 資深大律師 even if they are promoted to the title of Senior Counsel.
The Chinese translation of the term barrister (大律師) is itself misleading. There is nothing big, huge or superior about a barrister. The proper Chinese name of barrister should be, in my opinion, 訴訟律師. Thus when a barrister becomes a Senior Counsel, the proper name should be 資深訴訟律師.
The terms 大律師 came about when in the old days in Hong Kong solicitors had to explain to their clients at some point in handling their cases that they had to engage another lawyer (a barrister) to do the work. In the old days people did not understand why they had to engage another lawyer when they had already engaged a solicitor to represent them. The solicitors then explained that the additional work had to be done by a specialized lawyer called 大律師.
One needs to understand the true difference between a barrister and a solicitor.
Barristers are specialized lawyers. Solicitors are generalists. The difference in the two professions are much like a doctor specializing in accident & emergency (whom would need to know a large variety of conditions prompting people to go to A&E but does not necessarily know how to treat each individual condition) and an eye doctor. Of course, a doctor specializing in A&E would have a basic understanding of eye injuries and know how to apply emergency treatment to an injured eye, but it would be the eye doctor who would ultimately need to be consulted before a proper treatment is devised and given.
Very similarly in the legal field, any solicitor would have basic understanding of dealing with a litigation matter (i.e. matter that the parties bring to the court for determination). But it would require the specialized knowledge of a barrister to handle the litigation itself.
The article has also missed a fundamental point.
It is in fact a lot cheaper, from the perspective of a lay client, to also engage a barrister in addition to his solicitor, to do court work. Barristers’ fees are cheap, in fact a lot cheaper than solicitors’ fees.
Typically a solicitor firm work like this: a partner works on the case, the partner may delegate some part of the work to a senior solicitor, the senior solicitor may also delegate some part of his work to a junior, who may as well delegate some of his work to a trainee. Typically hourly rate of a trainee is about $2000. A junior solicitor having 1 or 2 years of qualification may charge about $2500 an hour. The senior, having 10 years or so of qualification, would be in the region of $4,500 or more. The partner may charge anywhere from $5,000 to even $10,000 an hour. When a piece of work is done, it may have already involved 4 persons, i.e. a partner, a senior solicitor, a junior solicitor and a trainee solicitor. If a client asks his solicitors to handle a litigation case, one could imagine how expensive his bill will become. This is mainly because there are a lot of duplicated charges by his solicitors.
On the other hand, a barrister having e.g. 5 years of standing may comfortably deal with everything that the team of solicitors do at an hourly rate of about $2,500.
One needs to understand why the solicitors would need to spend so much man power and resources to do the same thing that a single barrister would be able to do. This is partly due to the fact that a barrister is a specialist whereas a solicitor is a generalist. Imagine one tries to ask an A&E doctor to devise a plan to treat a heart decease. The A&E doctor would need to do a lot of readings and research before he can treat the patient, whereas the heart doctor would have known a lot more on various heart problems already.
A solicitor firm has a very high overhead, they need to pay their staff, lawyers, pay rent, etc. Whereas a barrister’s overhead is comparatively small, in fact much smaller.
While I am not against the idea of combining the two professions into a single profession, there are advantages for separating the two professions. For one, it would be actually cheaper to engage a barrister to do the court work.
A solicitor needs to face the client day in and day out. There are a lot of administrative tasks and a lot of client management, all incur expenses. A barrister does no administrative task at all. Instead, a barrister only focuses on court work. While a solicitor may represent a client in court, typically they do not do that since it would take up too much of their time and as a result they would not have sufficient time to deal with the client.
I hope this email clears up some of the misunderstandings.
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