Govt working with lawyers with eye on sector's future

Govt working with lawyers with eye on sector's future
Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah.

THE Government is working with the legal sector to think about what the future holds in the next 15 to 20 years, and to prepare for them.

Already, lawyers here have to adapt to trends such as the use of technology and the internationalisation of law.

"In the longer term, the skills required of litigators and the nature of legal practice itself may change even further," said Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah.

"For us to become the centre of gravity for legal work, we need to anticipate what the future of the international litigation will look like and adapt accordingly," she said yesterday.

More on such scenario planning will be made known at the Legal Futures Conference in July organised by the Law Ministry and the Singapore Academy of Law.

Speaking at a Law Society conference on international commercial litigation yesterday, she urged Singapore lawyers to up their game to tap the growing opportunities in global commercial litigation.

In order to develop Singapore as a legal hub, lawyers here would have to morph from domestic to regional and international lawyers. Lawyers here are at different stages of development towards that goal, she noted.

"If you can continue to improve quality levels, position yourselves competitively, build collaborations with your foreign counterparts and leverage on technology, then you will be well on your way to making that transformation," she said.

She also talked about the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC), a key part of Singapore's strategy to provide a full suite of dispute resolution services for the global business community.

It will hear global commercial disputes, including those governed by foreign law.

The SICC has drawn keen interest here and abroad since its launch in January.

For instance, Australia's Chief Justice Robert French said in Canberra last month that three Australian jurists had been appointed to the new court and there were opportunities for Australian lawyers, given the provision for foreign lawyers to argue in SICC cases.

The SICC's aim is to grow the legal sector here by attracting parties which would otherwise not come to Singapore to settle their disputes, said Ms Indranee at the event attended by 300 people.

Lawyers at yesterday's conference said her speech was a "clarion call" to gear up to the internationalisation of cross-border legal work.

"We need to have the competencies to compete internationally or the space created by the cross-border work brought here will be taken up by foreign lawyers," said Braddell Brothers managing director Edmund Kronenburg, a Singaporean.

Law Society president Thio Shen Yi said the society supports the move to develop a global legal hub here, pointing out that "if the legal sector grows, domestic lawyers will also benefit".

vijayan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on March 17, 2015.
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