Hong Kong Solicitors Covet Courtroom Wig-Hats; Barristers Resist


In hypermodern Hong Kong, a debate over 17th-century fashion is dividing the city’s legal circles, says the Wall Street Journal. The city’s lawyers are among the last in the world to wear judicial horsehair wigs, a legacy of British colonial rule. One group of lawyers that doesn’t wear wigs wants the right to don them. The city’s wig-wearers are resisting.

The feud has ignited passions over the wigs, which some see as “magical” and others as anachronistic. The split over wigs mirrors the divide in Hong Kong’s legal profession. As in the U.K., Hong Kong’s lawyers are split between solicitors, who work directly with clients, and barristers, who represent those clients in court. Barristers, like judges, work in an elaborate uniform of robes topped with hand-woven hairpieces. For years, solicitors have been expanding their professional reach into barristers’ turf. In 2010, solicitors in Hong Kong gained the right to apply for a special status that would allow them to represent their clients in higher courts. But still, barristers are reluctant to embrace more curly-haired colleagues.

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