Government Counsel Grade

A career as Government Counsel in the Department of Justice offers a unique opportunity to apply and develop your professional ability in a diverse and challenging job, which would not be available in the private sector, including working with various bureaux, departments as well as enforcement agencies and participating in legal decisions and processes concerning matters of public importance. We invite applications from both newly qualified lawyers and those with experience. We offer considerable job satisfaction, competitive salaries and fringe benefits, with good prospects for promotion to higher positions.

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The Government Counsel Grade comprises the following six ranks -

Rank Pay Scale
Law Officer DL#6
Principal Government Counsel DL3
Deputy Principal Government Counsel DL2
Assistant Principal Government Counsel DL1
Senior Government Counsel MPS# 45-49
Government Counsel MPS 32-44

Government Counsel may be deployed to undertaking criminal advocacy, civil litigation, legal advisory work (criminal, civil and public international law), bilingual legislative drafting, commercial law, mutual legal assistance and legal policy work, etc. For operational or career development purposes, Government Counsel will be deployed to work in any offices/divisions of the Department of Justice, such as the Secretary for Justice’s Office, Civil Division, Constitutional and Policy Affairs Division, International Law Division, Law Drafting Division or Prosecutions Division.

Find out more about the Department's work at About us > Organisation.

PROMOTION PROSPECTS

Promotion will be made on the basis of character, ability, and experience. Depending on the merits of individual officers, generally a Government Counsel will be promoted to Senior Government Counsel in several years. The most capable and aspiring counsel will fill directorate positions in the longer run.

TRAINING

We attach great importance to staff development and training. To equip our counsel with the necessary knowledge and skills to discharge their duties more effectively and to prepare them for career advancement, we provide them with a wide range of training such as –

  • New recruits at Government Counsel rank will receive an induction course to help them attain a better understanding of their career as well as the structure and work of different divisions in the Department of Justice.
  • From time to time, legal, management and communication training (e.g. workshops and seminars) will be organised in-house, or conducted by local institutes and the Civil Service College for our counsel.
  • To keep abreast of the latest legal development, counsel will have opportunities to participate in a range of law seminars, conferences and law-related training programmes.
  • Counsel may be sponsored to attend law-related courses outside office hours on a course-fee refund basis.
  • Counsel may be nominated to attend national courses at Tsinghua University, Peking University and the Chinese Academy of Governance as well as foreign affairs study programmes and thematic study programmes in the Mainland of China, so as to strengthen their understanding of the law and the legal environment in the Mainland.
  • Counsel may be arranged to attend overseas conference / workshop or other training programme in relation to the legal field to widen their exposure and knowledge.
  • Training attachments to justice bureaux in the Mainland or other common law countries may be arranged for counsel to widen their experience and enhance their knowledge of different legal systems.

A new appointee to the Government Counsel rank will be appointed on civil service probationary terms for three years. Upon passage of probation bar, the officer may be considered for appointment on the prevailing permanent terms.

The entry pay for Government Counsel is the Master Pay Scale Point 32, currently $72,225. Subject to the prevailing situation, candidates may be considered for the granting of increments with additional relevant post-qualification experience above the stipulated minimum requirement. Counsel will also enjoy a range of fringe benefits, including paid leave, medical and dental benefits, and where appropriate, assistance in housing.

For the basic entry requirements for the Government Counsel rank, candidates –

  1. must be -
    1. solicitors admitted in a recognised jurisdiction as stipulated under Section 2A and Schedule 2 of the Legal Officers Ordinance Note (1); or
    2. barristers with one year’s professional experience since attaining the right to full practice in a recognised jurisdiction as stipulated under Section 2A and Schedule 2 of the Legal Officers Ordinance Note (1) and (2);
  2. must have a Level 2 result Note (3) in the Use of English Notes (4) and (5) paper and a Level 1 result in the Use of Chinese Note (4) paper in the Common Recruitment Examination (CRE). Candidates without the requisite CRE results but who have met the other entry requirements may also apply. Appointment will be subject to their obtaining Level 2 in the Use of English paper and Level 1 in the Use of Chinese paper of the CRE by the time of the appointment. Candidates who do not have Level 1 in the Use of Chinese paper of the CRE by the time of appointment may also be appointed. However, only a limited number of applicants who do not possess the requisite Chinese language proficiency may be appointed subject to the operational needs of the Department. Please visit Civil Service Bureau’s homepage at http://www.csb.gov.hk for details of the CRE; and
  3. must have a pass result in the Basic Law and National Security Law Test Note (6).
Notes :
  1. Trainee solicitors/pupil barristers may also apply. Their appointment, however, will be subject to their admission as solicitors/barristers with satisfactory completion of pupilage. Please refer to the recruitment advertisement for further details.
  2. Barristers with right to full practice but who do not possess one year’s professional experience since attaining the right to full practice may also apply. If selected, they will enter at an appropriate point below the minimum of the Government Counsel pay scale.
  3. The results of the Use of Chinese (UC) and Use of English (UE) papers in the CRE are classified as Level 2, Level 1 or Fail, with Level 2 being the highest.
  4. For civil service appointment purpose, Level 5 or above in Chinese Language of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (HKDSEE); or Grade C or above in Chinese Language and Culture or Chinese Language and Literature of the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE), are accepted as equivalent to Level 2 in the UC paper of the CRE. Level 4 in Chinese Language of the HKDSEE; or Grade D in Chinese Language and Culture or Chinese Language and Literature of the HKALE, are accepted as equivalent to Level 1 in the UC paper of the CRE. Besides, Level 5 or above in English Language of the HKDSEE; or Grade C or above in Use of English of the HKALE; or Grade C or above in English Language of the General Certificate of Education (Advanced Level) (GCE A Level), are accepted as equivalent to Level 2 in the UE paper of the CRE. Level 4 in English Language of the HKDSEE; or Grade D in Use of English of the HKALE; or Grade D in English Language of the GCE A Level, are accepted as equivalent to Level 1 in the UE paper of the CRE.
  5. Candidates with an overall band of 6.5 or above with no subtest score below band 6 obtained in the same sitting in the Academic Module of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) within the two-year validity period of the test result are accepted as equivalent to Level 2 in the UE paper of the CRE.
  6. All applicants for civil service jobs will be assessed on their knowledge of the Basic Law and the National Security Law. A pass result in the Basic Law and National Security Law Test is an entry requirement for all civil service jobs. Only those candidates who have passed the Basic Law and National Security Law Test will be considered for appointment. For candidates who have not taken the relevant Basic Law and National Security Law Test or have not attained a pass result in the relevant Basic Law and National Security Law Test at the time of application, they may still apply for the job and arrangements will be made for them to take the relevant Basic Law and National Security Law Test during the recruitment process.

RECRUITMENT

The application period for the 2022 Government Counsel Recruitment Exercise ended on 9 September 2022. The next exercise will be advertised around August 2023.

Candidates interested in bilingual legislative drafting may be invited to attend a written test for assessing their aptitude in this area of work.

Enquiries can be made to Executive Officer (Personnel)5 or Senior Clerical Officer (Personnel)2 of the Department of Justice at 3902 8740 or 3902 8754 or to our Personnel Registry via email: pr@doj.gov.hk.

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