©The Star (Used by permission)
by SHAILA KOSHY
KUALA LUMPUR: The Bar Council wants a mandatory Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scheme for the Malaysian Bar, similar to other professional groups, but members are already baulking at the possibility.
Going by the general views posted on the Bar's closed online forum to date, a lively debate is expected at the Bar's annual general meeting on Saturday when the council tables the motion to implement a mandatory CPD scheme.
However, at least 500 of the 13,670–strong Bar have to turn up on Saturday to meet the quorum before a vote can take place. Only 617 turned up last year.
The council will have a tough task; three previous attempts to pass such motions at the Bar's AGM's have all failed.
In 2003, members rejected the motion; in 2005, 292 voted in favour, 179 against and seven abstained but the motion was rejected as it did not have the required two–thirds majority to carry it; and in 2006, only 90 voted in favour, 102 were against and two abstained.
Asked why the council was advocating a scheme members had shot down thrice, its chairman Lim Chee Wee pointed out that other professionals like architects, engineers, company secretaries, and accountants in Malaysia had a mandatory CPD in place.
“In this regard, lawyers should be no different.”
Lim, who is also the Bar president, said one of the fundamental requirements of a top class legal destination was having a mandatory CPD in place.
“As the Bar is a self–regulating body, steps must be taken to constantly enhance itself.”
Lim said the scheme would ensure Malaysian lawyers could compete domestically and internationally.
Professional Standards and Development Committee chair Dipendra Harshad Rai, who proposed the motion, said the scheme would run in a two–year cycle, where lawyers must accumulate 16 points in each cycle.
He said flexibility would be allowed in the initial two years, adding that any enforcement for non–compliance like non–renewal of a lawyer's practising certificate would only take place after that.
CPD points can be gained by attending or presenting at seminars and workshops, writing articles for journals and taking up legal aid files.