New career track options for Legal Service officers

Two separate career tracks will be created for mid-level Legal Service officers from next month to give them greater opportunities for specialisation, reported The Straits Times Online.

Officers can opt for the Legal or Judicial branch, and will be posted to jobs within each branch to gain experience and hone their skills, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last night.

To oversee career development, personnel boards for both branches will be set up under the Legal Service Commission, and chaired by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon.

The Judicial branch comprises district judges and magistrates in the State Courts and Registrars and Justices Law Clerks at the Supreme Court Registry.

The Legal branch will have deputy public prosecutors and state counsel in the Attorney-General's Chambers, and statutory boards' and ministries' legal officers.

There are 587 Legal Service officers and they account for about 10 per cent of Singapore's practising lawyers, reported The Straits Times.

Singapore had stuck to an integrated model previously as there were too few officers to support separate tracks, Mr Lee said.

Officers would also have better career paths in an integrated service. And it was timely to review this as the service has grown more than tenfold - from 45 officers in 1965 - and officers can specialise without limiting their career prospects.

The scope and complexity of work in the Government, courts and Attorney-General's Chambers have "grown enormously", Mr Lee added.

The scope of work in ministries, for instance, has widened to include drafting new laws and negotiating free trade agreements.

Amid the move towards greater specialisation, it is critical that the Legal Service operates as an integrated whole. The changes are part of Singapore's continuing journey to build a first-class Legal Service. "But ultimately, what matters is the spirit and dedication of the Legal Service officers," Mr Lee said.

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