PETALING JAYA: A call for a minimum pay for chambering students has received discouraging response from several lawyers.
One of the lawyers, R Kengadharan, said the Young Lawyers Movement should not have made the demand because the students were trainees and not employees and were therefore not entitled to minimum remuneration.
He told FMT the purpose of pupillage was to give the apprentice some knowledge and experience of the work of a lawyer and his remuneration would merely be a form of subsistence allowance.
“The remuneration earned during pupillage cannot be construed as salary,” he said. “Nor can the pupil be regarded as a workman under our employment laws.”
The movement recently urged the Bar Council to draw up rules to compel legal firms to pay a minimum monthly remuneration of RM1,200 to chambering students.
The group’s spokesman, Vince Tan, said the council was empowered to amend and make rules such as introducing a minimum pay.
Another lawyer, A Srimurugan, said the relationship between the master and pupil was regulated by custom and the student was paid only an allowance to cover food and transportation.
“During the training period, pupils have limited scope of work. They can appear in the magistrates’ court only after three months of training,” he said.
He said senior lawyers could refuse to take pupils under their wing, in which case their admission to the High Court of Malaya would be delayed.
Lawyer Alex Anton Netto said there should be consultation in any move to implement a minimum pay scheme and legal firms should not be forced to accept it.
Moreover, he said, this was not the appropriate time to demand minimum remuneration as legal firms were struggling to survive because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“When our economy is on a stronger footing, this can be considered on a pilot scheme basis in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor before extending it to other states,” he said.Internet Explorer Channel Network