Dear newly minted advocates and solicitors of the Supreme Court of Singapore,
Heartiest congratulations to each of you and welcome to the family! There has been a steady increase in our membership over the last five years, from 4,486 members in 2013 to 5,191 members last year. 1,825 of these members are in the junior category, making up 35.2% of our membership. Female lawyers make up 42.7% of total members. The Law Society recognises the pivotal role young lawyers play in our legal community and is committed to engaging and caring for their welfare.
Last year, under the leadership of our President Gregory Vijayendran, we launched MACH (Members Assistance and Care Hotline), where members can call 6530 0213 or e-mail [email protected] to seek assistance under our various pastoral care schemes. For instance, PracMentor is tailored for young lawyers seeking guidance from senior lawyers on practice issues; LawCare provides confidential professional counselling services for members facing personal problems; Defence Assist seeks to aid members facing disciplinary proceedings; SCMediate helps mediate disputes between law practices and the Welfare Fund seeks to relieve the financial hardship of members, former members and their dependants. In October 2017, we launched the Relational Mentorship scheme to provide mentorship to young practitioners seeking advice on matters such as ethical conundrums, career assistance and guidance and stress management. If you would like to seek a mentor, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The Law Society is concerned about equality as well as well-being of its members in the workplace. We published an article on workplace harassment in our monthly e-magazine, Singapore Law Gazette (SLG): https://lawgazette.com.sg/practice/compass/unwanted-unwelcome-sexual-harassment-workplace/. Previously I had also written about some ways of managing workplace harassment in the September 2017 issue of the SLG.
We formed a taskforce – Women in Practice (WIP) – on 7 March this year to examine issues faced by women lawyers in practice, in a move to address inequities still present in the legal industry. One of the key focus of the WIP taskforce is to organise relevant activities and initiatives to engage women in private practice. The taskforce launched a survey in June to solicit feedback from women lawyers in practice and plans to hold roundtable discussions as well as to incise into the issues. The Taskforce also aims to raise awareness of international best practices in the workplace to encourage gender diversity.
Our pro bono office was established 10 years ago in August 2007 following a comprehensive review of the legal aid regime in Singapore, to manage and coordinate all of the Law Society’s pro bono initiatives. Some key initiatives include: (a) law awareness initiatives; (b) legal clinics; (c) Law Society’s Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (CLAS); and (d) help for non-profit organisations and social enterprises. While the Law Society had previously provided pro bono legal aid through the Pro Bono Services Office (PBSO), all of PBSO’s activities were transferred to Law Society Pro Bono Services (LSPBS) with effect from 1 April 2017. If you would like to volunteer for pro bono work, please write in to [email protected].
In January 2017, the Mandatory CPD scheme was expanded to cover all lawyers, including those with 15 or more years of practice experience and foreign lawyers registered to practise Singapore law. The scheme was originally implemented in 2012 for lawyers with 0-5 years of practice experience, and expanded in January 2015 to include lawyers with up to 15 years of practice experience. The Law Society has in tandem increased its offering of CPD conferences and seminars. Marquee events like the Litigation Conference, Insolvency Conference and CPD Day usually see more than 300 participants at each event while smaller scale seminars may have just 20 or so participants. The contents of the conferences and seminars range from black letter law to business development and leadership skills. For instance, we are holding a workshop on 1 August titled How to be Brand Smart in the Digital Age. You can choose the style and contents of the conference or seminar that you are most comfortable with while upgrading yourself professionally. CPD events are also a great opportunity for networking with other lawyers and even professionals from other industries. Young lawyers get special subsidies for the course fees of some of these events so do keep a look-out for the e-mail publicity.
The Law Society also organises non-CPD events such as legal tech product training, State Courts Luncheons, Council Luncheons and volunteer appreciation events. Volunteering with the Law Society in Council or at the Committee level can also help members gain useful boardroom experience, sharpen their leadership skills as well as legal and practice knowledge and gain a wide network of business contacts.
At the same time, the SLG, Jus News and other Law Society publications such as the Practice Management Guide (which can be found in the Members’ Library of our website) provide a wealth of practice and business information designed to help members gain a cutting edge in their career. We also issue or update Practice Directions and Guidance Notes from time to time to assist and guide lawyers in practice matters. If you would like to contribute an article to the SLG or any Law Society publications, please get in touch with us via [email protected].
Recognising the need for dedicated Secretariat staff to help law firms ease into the process of technology adoption and to better understand the technology needs of the law firms in addressing practice concerns, a new Legal Productivity and Innovation (LPI) department was set up in December 2016. It has launched various schemes to encourage more law firms to embrace technology, such as Tech Start for Law, SmartLaw Assist and SmartLaw certification and recently concluded a technology survey for decision-makers, end-users and IT executors in law firms. If you have any queries on legal tech matters, please e-mail [email protected].
As a member of the Law Society, you are entitled to the following lifestyle benefits that we have specially put together for you: https://www.lawsociety.org.sg/For-Lawyers/Services-for-Members/Membership-Benefits/Lifestyle-Benefits.
If you have other ideas on how the Law Society can help support your professional journey, please drop us a note at [email protected]. We look forward to a fruitful partnership with you!