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A training contract is a compulsory period of practical training in a law firm for law graduates before they can qualify as a solicitor in the United Kingdom (UK), the Republic of Ireland, Australia or Hong Kong, or as an advocate and solicitor in Singapore. During the training period, the participant is known as a trainee solicitor or trainee lawyer (in Singapore).
A training contract can apply to any profession. In some 21st-century contracts, a small number of contracts are secured by an Agency who represent many training professionals. Otherwise training contracts can be negotiated locally.
In the UK a full-time training contract is normally for two years, and applicants must have first completed the Legal Practice Course. Trainee solicitors and training contracts were formerly known as articled clerks and articles of clerkship, respectively. In the UK, the barrister's equivalent is a twelve-month pupillage under a pupilmaster, in barristers' chambers.
To obtain a training contract (since 1st July 2014 a training contract was replaced by 'a period of recognised training'), a graduate must apply for an opening for such position at a law firm usually a year or two in advance of the start of planned employment. A concern of the profession is that each year the number of applicants exceeds the number of contracts available. Graduates unable to obtain a training contract will have accrued sizeable debts with no guarantee of being able to qualify as a lawyer. In years past, it was common for aspiring lawyers to pay law firms to train them (a practice also common in other professions in the past, including officer positions in the Royal Navy).
For a legal executive, who normally does not hold a law degree, a training contract is not normally required to qualify as a solicitor. They typically advance toward qualification by passing exams administered by the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), while working under the supervision of a solicitor.
In Singapore, a Practice Training Contract spans 6 months, and is normally undertaken after the applicant, who must be a "qualified person" under local legislation relating to the legal profession, has attended a 5-month practical law course, called Part B of Singapore Bar Examinations, and has passed the Bar examinations, although the reverse order is permissible.
A Practice Training Contract is a formal arrangement between a qualified person and a law practice for supervised training in relation to practicing law in Singapore. A qualified lawyer of at least 5 to 7 years' standing, known as a supervising solicitor, is responsible for the supervision of the practice trainee for the duration of the contract.
Upon the satisfactory completion of both the Practice Training Contract and Part B of the Singapore Bar Examinations, the qualified person is, subject to certain other requirements, eligible to be admitted to practice law as an Advocate and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Singapore (i.e. "called to the Singapore Bar").
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