Secretariat wishes all members a very happy new year!
We usher in 2020 with uncertainties and challenges looming in the horizon. Are those clouds up above cumulus or nimbus ones? How will the economy perform this year? How much will tech disrupt legal practice?
The Chief Justice, in his Opening of Legal Year (OLY) speech delivered on 6 January, alluded to many upcoming changes such as the implementation of the new Rules of Court proposed by the Civil Justice Commission, the streamlining of rules on procedure and practice in our criminal courts as well as the development of a Family Lawyer’s Certification curriculum. He also shared feedback he had received concerning the development of lawyers of the future and building law firms of the future.
The Law Society is certainly alive to all of the challenges and uncertainties such changes may bring. We have beefed up our legal departments to ensure that we are well-resourced to deal with consultations coming fast and furious our way. Council has carefully studied the terms of reference of key Committees, especially new Committees, selected Council representatives and appointed Chairs for each Committee in such a way as to ensure that the Committees are empowered and equipped to do what they need to do, while staying accountable to all members at the end of the day.
The Economic Action Council (EAC), mentioned by President Gregory Vijayendran in his OLY speech this year, is a top priority for the Law Society. We will focus on assisting members to recover, redirect and reinvent through our Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programmes and career and pastoral schemes accessible via our Members’ Assistance & Care Helpline (MACH), grants administered by our Legal Productivity and Innovation department and mission trips led by our Lawyers Go Global team.
On the self-regulatory front, we continue to uphold the independence of our decision making process and will continually improve our processes to increase efficiency and ensure fairness and justice both for the complainant as well as the respondent. Putting into practice the mantra that prevention is way better than cure, we will focus our training efforts on best practices for client care and compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.
I assure members that the Law Society will not be a mere armchair critic or strategist sprouting head knowledge or waving pom poms from the sidelines. We will enter the battlefield to fight shoulder-to-shoulder with our members. We have worked with Workforce Singapore (WSG) to come up with the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for Professional Legal Support Executives (a first for the legal industry) and lobbied Ministry of Law to open up to smaller firms secondment opportunities with MNCs like tech giant Alibaba. However, all of these efforts will require our firms to take that first step of joining us in the ring. If you have ideas for what works and what doesn’t, share that with us so that we can select the right weapon from the arsenal and avoid blindly firing in the dark.