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The Singapore Law Gazette

CEO’s Message

Dear Members,

By now, we will all have paid our dues for our lack of preparations or are enjoying the fruits of our labour adopting (at least in part) the Chicken-Little mentality. Although I had been mostly working from home for a period of time before the circuit breaker measures kicked in on 7 April and had been stocking up diligently on groceries, it turned out that there were blind spots which eluded me. A mere one week into the circuit breaker, my back hurt so badly from the un-ergonomic chair that I sat on to work that I was left scrambling for Tiger Balm plasters of the largest size and pain killers of the highest dosage.

In deciding whether to charge ahead with preparations or choosing not to make any preparations, are we setting a goal for ourselves to (a) admit defeat, (b) control damage, (c) escape unscathed, (d) emerge stronger than before, or (e) turn the crisis into a total game-changer? Certainly this is no time for an “ostrich-in-the-sand” approach but being in the unchartered waters that we find ourselves presently, deciding what preparations to undertake can be fraught with difficulties. The Chinese saying “Feed an army for 1,000 days to use it for one day” affirms the cost but also the value of preparations in the same breath.

To assist members to stay on top of the deluge of information and to enable them to take as much guesswork as possible out of the decision-making in respect of carrying out preparatory work, we have created a COVID-19 resources webpage curating all relevant government regulations and advisories and court circulars, as well as our own advisories which distil information and provide tips for members to comply and cope with the circuit breaker measures.

In the process of assisting members to apply for exemptions from the circuit breaker measures to carry on essential legal work in the office, we had observed that those who were able to very quickly whip up a list of their essential legal matters, complete with corresponding details such as completion dates that fell within the circuit breaker period (probably with the aid of a practice management system) as well as those who had already put in place work-from-home arrangements for the majority of their staff so that only a skeletal team needed to be onsite, were the first to have their applications approved. Once again, this proves that preparations pays.

Effort previously poured into building a strong talent pool and enhancing trust and communication both with staff as well as clients is also reaping rewards during this period of remote working. It has been said that an organisation’s purpose, values and culture are tested in the fire. The one who can withstand this fire is the one with well-defined purpose, values and culture. And the good news? It is never too late to start embarking on preparations for practising in the post-COVID era. With a clear strategy for dealing with the current pandemic and a well-equipped arsenal to deal with a possible onslaught of negative impacts, the goal of emerging victorious from the crisis is clearly within reach.

Bearing this in mind, the Law Society’s latest slew of COVID-19 assistance measures are aimed specifically at building resilience amongst members. We offer free job ads to member firms for a six-month period to facilitate the hunt for the right talent (for law firms wishing to add to their arsenal) and career opportunities (for members seeking a change). Free advertising in the upcoming edition of our law firm directory is offered for a six-month period for existing advertisers to maintain their reach to new and existing clients. PC fees are waived for all newly-called lawyers to encourage law firms to continue building up their pipeline of talent even during this difficult period. Moreover, from July to year-end, our webinars will be offered completely free-of-charge to all our members who can polish their skills while chalking up CPD points. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and be ready to roll out further assistance schemes for our members.

Being well-prepared enables us to support our members in every way we can with whatever limited resources we have during the current pandemic and beyond, rather than engage in futile armchair tactics. We launched a membership-wide survey on 13 May 2020 to obtain feedback on members’ Work From Home (WFH) experience as well as the impact on economic health of law firms and wellness of members so that we can align our support services to assist members in the most effective manner and to fine-tune ongoing initiatives that promote the economic health and internationalisation of the legal profession. We will be sharing the results of our survey very soon.

Chief Executive Officer
The Law Society of Singapore