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The Singapore Law Gazette

President’s Message

Dear Law Society Members,

We Are Moving Our Service Centre Location!

Spanning five decades of golden history, today the Law Society has grown exponentially in membership size as well as scale and complexity of our operations and functions. With a plethora of looming changes affecting the legal profession (from civil justice reforms to technology to economic health issues), the Society continues to play a relevant and important role in representing members’ interests and concerns in legal and practice matters as well as fulfill our statutory objectives. All this, while we fearlessly guard the independence of the Bar.

The activities undertaken by the Society are set to grow even further in both breadth and depth. In recent years, we have embarked on law firm technology adoption initiatives and globalization/regionalization initiatives in collaboration with the Ministry of Law and other collaborative partners. In Singapore, our suite of dispute resolution services via the Law Society Mediation Scheme (LSMS), the Law Society Arbitration Scheme (LSAS) and the Law Society Neutral Evaluation and Determination Scheme (LSNEDS) continue to grow slowly and steadily but we have venue constraints. Separately, our CPD collaboration with the College of Law positions and poises us for even greater things by catalyzing combined strengths to offer broader capacity building on black letter law, soft skills, related discipline knowledge and niche technical expertise. At the same time, we aim to improve our service to different professionals among us to enhance inclusiveness and diversity for every member, whether junior or senior, male or female, generalist or specialist.

In 1996, the Law Society’s members made a firm and far-sighted decision to purchase our current premises at 39 South Bridge Road (39 SBR). That sacrificial purchase by members (which necessitated a building levy suffered by our then members) proved a financially prudent, wise and prescient investment decision. In the meantime, our membership and space requirement needs to serve the increased numbers continues to grow and grow. Consider this – a decade ago, the total number of practising lawyers was 3,697 but today, we have around 5,800 practising lawyers (a growth of 36 per cent). Over the last four years, we undertook major renovations to increase the number of staff work stations and subsequently, expand our premises further, including tenanting from neighbouring 37 South Bridge Road to accommodate the day-to-day functioning of the Society.

Looking forward, and given the continued projected increase in our membership, scaling up of services and greater outreach, Council has adopted a more strategic view of our current and future operational needs. Despite having been authorised by members to purchase premises and given an enhanced mandate of S$15.5m, we have been diligently sourcing for and scouting manifold options. The Premises Committee spearheaded first by Vice-President Adrian Tan, then by Vice- President M Rajaram, has been key in these efforts. Yet to date, we still have not found what we are looking for! While there will be no let up whatsoever in terms of plans to purchase a place to call home, in order to efficiently and effectively meet our present and foreseeable operational needs for a new service centre location, we have settled on a choice of suitable premises based on seven critical considerations:

(a) Having an optimally sized floor plate that can accommodate up to 100 people for meetings, events or seminars; (this obviously saves us external rental costs); 

(b) Good frontage for branding befitting our Society’s growing stature and dignity while we grow the brand of the Singapore Lawyer;

(c) Space for future expansion (to cater for scalability to serve more members of the profession presently and going forward);

(d) Centralizing all our operations under one roof (there is greater efficiency, synergy and operational effectiveness if the service teams are located together); 

(e) Disabled friendly facilities;

(f) Convenient location (e.g. near an MRT station); and

(g) Affordability (minimising cash flow impact).

To this end, a golden opportunity presented itself some time last year. As some members are aware, Maxwell Chambers is expanding to occupy its adjacent building at 28 Maxwell Road (the former “Red Dot Building”) that has been re-named “Maxwell Chambers Suites”. We were approached by Maxwell Chambers Suites (MCS) to consider taking up some units there. After numerous site surveys, the Council, the Premises Committee and Secretariat Directors were unanimously of the view that MCS is operationally fit for our purposes especially as a more optimal service centre location. Having weighed all the options carefully, we considered that the decision to rent units at MCS, including bigger seminar rooms, was the prudent decision in the interests of the Law Society to meet our immediate and foreseeable needs. I emphasize that we will not let up on seeking premises for purchase as mandated as that is the medium-term to long-term solution. 

The present Council confirms that the Law Society’s move to MCS will neither change our ownership of 39 SBR nor will it require any levy to be imposed on our members. Rental for our new premises will be substantially covered by our rental of 39 SBR. Additionally, as stated earlier in consideration of (a) above, we anticipate meaningful costs savings by holding small to medium scale CPD courses at our new premises instead of expending on rental of external venues.

The bigger premises promises new opportunities and the exciting prospect of serving your needs in a sharper way. The Society will also be able to provide a valuable setting to catalyse camaraderie and community among our membership across categories, practice areas and seniority. Like the theme song of “Cheers” in the 1980s, I sincerely hope that our new premises will be a place “where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came“! We believe that MCS will meet the Society’s objectives to equip the profession to meet future challenges. When completed, the vicinity around MCS, as envisaged by the Law Ministry, will be a hub of legal related activities. This will also allow the Society to work closely and collaboratively with other stakeholders in the legal profession to provide members with a full spectrum of seminars, activities, facilities and services to enhance your membership. You matter. This move is slated to take place in early August.

We look forward to providing better service for you as our valued member. If there are queries or clarifications on this move, please send me an e-mail at [email protected] or write to our CEO, Delphine Loo Tan at [email protected].

President
The Law Society of Singapore