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The Singapore Law Gazette

Welcome from Adrian Tan, Law Society President (January 2022 to July 2023)

This message was penned by President Adrian before his passing on 8 July 2023.

My fellow lawyers, congratulations on being called to the Bar!

You may be young, but you are the equal of every other advocate and solicitor, in terms of hearing rights.

Now, you need three things.

First, hard work.

The bad news is that we can’t avoid hard work. The good news is that while you must work hard at the beginning, as you get older, the job becomes, if not easier, then more logical.

Second, a willingness to learn.

You may wonder: haven’t I learnt enough in the past years? I’ve studied countless cases, passed numerous exams, and trained under senior lawyers.

You’re right, of course. You have accumulated knowledge. That’s a crucial first step in becoming a competent legal professional.

But lawyering is, ultimately, not a knowledge game. It is a skill game. It is something that you can improve only by doing. It is just like swimming: you can read books and watch videos of the best Olympic swimmers, but the only way you will swim better is if you keep doing it every day.

So, as a young lawyer, jump into the water with both feet. I promise you that you will struggle, just as I did. I guarantee you that you will sink, just as I did. I’m sure that you will feel overwhelmed, just as I did.

Stay calm, be confident, and swim. Many have done what you will do, and you can do it too.

The third and final quality you will need is empathy.

You are a lawyer. Your role is to serve your client. To do so, you must understand who your client is, where your client comes from, and what your client wants. Whether your client is a tech billionaire, or an impoverished orphan accused of serious crimes, you must try to find the humanity in your client, so that you can become your client’s advocate.

Even if your client is a large multinational, you should locate its corporate values, read its history and study its business. Only then will you be able to contribute practical solutions to serve your client’s needs.

My fellow lawyers, work hard, be hungry to learn, and develop your sense of empathy. You will become great lawyers.

The Law Society welcomes each and every one of you.

The Law Gazette is the official publication of the Law Society of Singapore.