SINGAPORE - About three out of four local lawyers leave practice in their first 10 years on the job, Law Society president Lok Vi Ming said on Friday.
The Senior Counsel, who was speaking at the Opening of the Legal Year, said the figure was based on the 1,250 to 1,400 law graduates who joined the profession between 2002 and 2006. Just 386 of this group were still in practice as of last October, said Mr Lok.
"It is difficult to discern the one predominant reason why lawyers left in huge numbers in the first decade of their practices," he said. "It may be due to the aggressiveness of practice, the lure of greener pastures elsewhere, or a combination of both."
Mr Lok noted that the number of local practitioners here exceeded 4,000 for the first time in 2012. By last month, the figure had swelled to 4,549.
But while there were 1,697 junior lawyers with less than seven years of post-qualification experience and 2,466 senior lawyers of more than 12 years' standing as of last October, there were only 386 practitioners in the middle category of seven to 12 years' experience.
This, said Mr Lok, was "striking".
Most lawyers in this group, he said, had likely left when career opportunities elsewhere emerged with the improvement of the economy beginning in early 2005.
"We want to do what we can to stem the exodus of lawyers from this vulnerable segment of our profession," said Mr Lok.
Lawyers say they know of peers who have quit to move into fields as diverse as consultancy work, the travel agency business and even the culinary industry.
Mr Benedict Teo, a director at Drew & Napier, believes the main reason why lawyers are tempted to move on is "the proliferation of options available outside of legal practice" which are not always about money.