TWO separate career tracks will be created for the middle ranks of the Legal Service from next month, to give officers greater opportunities for specialisation.
They can opt for either the Legal or Judicial track, and will then be posted to jobs within each branch to gain experience and hone their skills, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday.
"We need a first-class Legal Service, and that in turn calls for a first-class personnel management system," he said at a dinner for the service at Shangri-La Hotel.
The Judicial Branch includes district judges and magistrates in the State Courts, and registrars at the Supreme Court Registry. Under the Legal Branch will come deputy public prosecutors and state counsel in the Attorney-General's Chambers, and statutory boards and ministries' legal officers.
There are currently 587 legal service officers, and they account for about 10 per cent of Singapore's practising lawyers.
To oversee officers' career development, personnel boards for both branches will be set up under the Legal Service Commission (LSC) chaired by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon.
The move to split the Legal Service has been studied before, but Singapore stuck to an integrated model previously as there were too few officers to support separate tracks, Mr Lee told his audience, which included the Chief Justice, Law Minister K. Shanmugam and Attorney-General Steven Chong.
But it was timely to review this as the Legal Service has grown more than tenfold from 45 officers in 1965, and officers can now specialise without conscribing their career prospects.
The scope and complexity of work in the Government, courts and Attorney-General's Chambers have also grown enormously, Mr Lee added.
Work in ministries, for instance, has widened to include drafting new laws and negotiating free trade agreements.