This is the last print edition of the Singapore Law Gazette. The Gazette was first published in 1992 and for 25 years, neither the Law Society nor the members have had to fund the publication costs. However, that era has come to an end with this issue as we move to the online version of the Gazette with a makeover.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Publications Committees over the years, our long-serving Publications Director Ms Sharmaine Lau and her team, as well as the contributors of the Gazette articles for their tireless efforts and the readers for your unceasing support.
As we come to the close of 2017, I would like to give members a quick recap of the Law Society’s activities for the year.
Law Society’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations
The Law Society celebrated our Golden Jubilee in February 2017 with the unveiling of a logo specially designed for the occasion and the revamp of our website. Red packets bearing the Law Society logo were distributed to members during the Chinese New Year period. Later in the year, collar pins of the 50th anniversary logo as well as Ezlink cards printed with the 50th anniversary logo and containing $5 load value each were distributed to members to mark our 50th anniversary.
In May 2017, the Law Society published a commemorative 50th anniversary issue of the Singapore Law Gazette, giving the reader a front-row view of the last 50 years of Singapore’s rich legal history, as told by the lawyers involved in some of the cases.
“Just Jubilee”, a fun-filled carnival suitable for all ages which was held on 7 October at the NUS Bukit Timah Campus, Upper Quadrangle, is our marquee fundraising event to celebrate the Law Society’s 50th anniversary as well as the 10th anniversary of our pro bono efforts.
Fiat Justitia, our 50th anniversary coffee table book was launched at our Dinner and Dance (“D&D”) on 10 November which saw a record turnout of close to 600 members. I would like to express our gratitude to our law firms and members who donated generously towards the publication costs of the book and the sponsors of the D&D – American Express (platinum sponsor), Law in Order (gold sponsor), Maserati, Fujixerox and DTI/EQIP.
Search for New Premises
An EGM was held on 4 September 2017 and a resolution was passed authorising Council to purchase new additional premises for the general use and benefit of the Law Society and its members at an outlay of up to S$15.5 million. We are currently searching actively for appropriate premises to serve members better.
Incorporating Law Society Pro Bono Services (“LSPBS”) as a Subsidiary
The Law Society has established its first wholly-owned subsidiary, known as the Law Society Pro Bono Services Ltd (“LSPBS”). While the Society previously provided pro bono legal aid through the Pro Bono Services Office (“PBSO”), all of PBSO’s activities were transferred to LSPBS with effect from 1 April 2017. Setting up LSPBS as a subsidiary will facilitate the distinct branding of the Law Society’s access-to-justice initiatives, through a clearer separation from the Law Society’s other core functions of regulation, representation and law reform.
One-stop Helpline for Pastoral Care – 6530 0213
As part of its efforts to enhance pastoral care for members, the Law Society launched a new members’ helpline in March 2017. The “Members’ Assistance and Care Helpline” (“MACH”) provides members with a one-stop forum for help with ethical issues or any problems which affect their work. Members will be referred to the appropriate Law Society scheme, or to the committee dealing with ethical issues.
We launched three schemes in March 2017 to encourage more law practices to embrace technology:
- Tech Start for Law: This programme was launched together with the Ministry of Law and SPRING Singapore on 1 March 2017. Singapore law practices looking to adopt technology to improve their productivity will receive funding support of up to 70% of the first-year’s cost for technology products in practice management, online research and online marketing. We received 105 applications as of 1 December 2017. The scheme will end on 28 February 2018.
- SmartLaw Assist: SmartLaw Assist offered subsidies for legal research tools which are not covered by the Tech Start for Law. In partnership with our professional indemnity insurer brokers Lockton, we used the Law Society’s Education Fund to subsidise 70% of the first-year subscription costs of an online knowledge database from Singapore Academy of Law, Lexis Nexis or Thomson Reuters for at least one user. This scheme ended on 30 June 2017 and we received 82 applications.
- SmartLaw Certification: This certification scheme aims to recognise law practices which have adopted technology to improve productivity and increase business capabilities. Law practices which have (1) adopted a practice management or accounting software, (2) an online knowledge database, and (3) have an online presence (whether through a marketing portal or their own dedicated website) will be able to display a “SmartLaw” logo on their websites and marketing materials.
Expansion of Mandatory Continuing Professional Development (“CPD”)
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 Law Society stepped up to provide a wider range of offerings for our members looking to fulfil their CPD requirements while keeping down the costs for many of our seminars and conferences. We organised the Litigation Conference (20 & 21 April 2017), the Future Lawyering Conference (20 & 21 July 2017), the 3rd Regional Insolvency Conference (24 & 25 August 2017) and CPD Day (31 October & 1 November) and will continue to organise a wide range of seminars and conferences in the new year.
Launch of Law Society Mediation Scheme (“LSMS”)
The Law Society’s Mediation Scheme (“LSMS”) was soft-launched on 31 October 2016 and officially launched on 10 March 2017 by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon. The LSMS provides a cost-effective and timely dispute resolution mechanism as an alternative to litigation or arbitration and complements the existing Law Society Arbitration Scheme (“LSAS”). As of 1 December 2017, we handled 7 LSMS cases.