SINGAPORE’S newest lawyers have been urged to begin their careers in family and criminal law to hone their skills, instead of heading straight for corporate law, which is getting more competitive than ever.
The legal community welcomed over the weekend 430 newly appointed advocates and solicitors at this year’s mass call to the Bar, up from 411 last year and 363 the year before.
The expansion in the number of lawyers means the newcomers will enter a market where the generous salary packages and multiple job offers their predecessors enjoyed will be harder to come by, said Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon.
This is also because other major legal centres around the world, such as New York and London, are cutting back in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, he added.
During a ceremony at Nanyang Technological University, the Chief Justice said the legal industry is adjusting from one of “undersupply” – when there were more jobs than law graduates – to one where supply and demand are more balanced now, especially in commercial law.
“This means that you will not be running with the wind to your back,” he told the new lawyers hoping to enter corporate and commercial practice. Instead, they can expect “more competition, fewer guarantees and less room for negotiation”.
This is a trend that is happening not only in Singapore.
After a period of sustained growth in New York and London “in the later decades of the 20th century”, the pace of recruitment there has slowed down.
Singapore, which benchmarks lawyers’ salaries with those paid by New York and London firms, is no exception to these market forces, especially given how “we also compete in a South-East Asian market where starting salaries are generally lower”.
Instead, the Chief Justice challenged the new lawyers to take the plunge into family and criminal law – where there is a shortage – and cut their teeth there. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network