Why the Demand for Legal Professionals is Increasing in Singapore’s Economy

Singapore is a classic example of one of the most well-developed and transparent legal frameworks in the world. Singapore’s Ministry of Law regulates the practice of law, promotes legal education and training, and creates legal jobs in Singapore. The legal industry in Singapore comprises law firms, in-house legal departments, and legal service providers, that serve the country’s commercial activities. 

Singapore’s court system has a well-established legal infrastructure consisting of advocates and solicitors as the major contributors, where advocates appear in court hearings while solicitors provide legal advice to clients in and out of court. Paralegals, legal secretaries, and legal translators are some of the other non-lawyer positions offered in Singapore’s court system.

Singapore offers high-quality and efficient legal services to foreign investors as well as businesses all across the globe, making it an attractive industry for employability. This article explores the reasons for the increasing demand for legal professionals in Singapore, the desired qualifications and in-demand skills one must possess to sustain a career in the legal industry, and the future of the legal profession in Singapore.

Singapore’s Court System

Singapore’s court system comprises a highly efficient and systematic judicial hierarchy with the Supreme Court at the pinnacle, which is further divided into two branches, namely, 

  1. Court of Appeal
  2. High Court. 

The Court of Appeal caters to appeals from high courts related to public interests, while the High Court handles severe civil and criminal cases. 

Following the Supreme Court are the state courts and family justice courts. State courts deal with minor criminal, civil, and traffic offences, while family justice courts have jurisdiction over cases related to family law, divorce, adoption, etc. In addition to these, Singapore’s Court system also includes 

  1. Specialized tribunals
  2. Competition Commission of Singapore
  3. Intellectual Property Office of Singapore

Intellectual Property Law in Singapore

The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) is the government agency responsible for administering and enforcing intellectual property (IP) laws in Singapore. The following rules are included in Singapore’s IP laws:

  • Trade Marks Act- It offers registration of logos, words, and shapes for various businesses.
  • Patents Act- It grants patents for novel industrial innovations.
  • Copyright Act – It governs the exclusive rights of owners producing original music, literature, arts, sound recordings, and films.
  • Registered Designs Act- It offers patents to designs that are exclusive and distinctive.

Singapore’s judiciary system offers a range of remedies to IP owners to protect their rights and ensure proper enforcement. Some of the emerging trends in intellectual property law and technology in Singapore’s legal industry are as follows: 

  1. Artificial intelligence 
  2. E-commerce
  3. Patent filing and prosecution
  4. Data privacy and protection
  5. Green Technology and Sustainability 

Corporate Law in Singapore

Corporate law in Singapore is a business-friendly framework that comprises the following dimensions:

  1. Company Incorporation
  2. Corporate Governance
  3. Shareholder Rights
  4. Mergers and Acquisition
  5. Securities Regulation

Qualifications Required for Legal Jobs in Singapore

Depending on the type of legal job being applied for, the qualifications may vary. Certain general qualifications and requirements for legal job positions in Singapore are as follows:

  1. You must possess a Bachelor’s degree in Law from a recognized college/university to practice law in Singapore. Few employers may also ask for a Juris Doctor (JD) degree.
  2. You must qualify for Singapore’s Bar Examination and get admitted to the Singapore Bar Council to practice law in Singapore.
  3. You must possess prior work experience in the area of your specialization such as fashion law, corporate law, intellectual property, etc.
  4. You must possess language proficiency in Mandarin, Malay, or Tamil to pursue a legal profession in Singapore.
  5. Additional certifications, postgraduate degrees, and/or working experience may be required for some higher legal designations.

What Are the Key Skills and Experience Required for a Senior Legal Counsel Position in Singapore’s Leading Law Firms?

To be able to hold a Senior Legal Counsel position in Singapore’s leading law firms, one must possess a combination of hard and soft skills as follows:

  • Legal skills: A thorough knowledge of Singaporean laws and legalities to be able to genuinely advise clients on legal matters is a must. One must have proficiency in drafting legal documents and negotiating complex transactions.
  • Communication and Leadership skills: One must have exceptionally good interpersonal communication skills and leadership abilities to be able to build and maintain relationships with not only clients from different cultural backgrounds but also the team lawyers and support staff.
  • Prior Work Experience: To be able to hold a senior counsel position, one must have a prior work experience of at least 10 years in the relevant law fields, to have exposure to the law practices and their challenges.
  • Commercial Awareness and Research Skills: Knowledge of law practices, regulations, and protocols is a deep-seated skill of a legal counsel. One must be able to analyze the situations, ascertain information, and obtain inferences and verdicts from the clients efficiently. Correct advice concerning the business risks and solutions related to the legal case must be suggested to the clients.

How has the COVID-19 Pandemic Affected the Demand for Legal Services in Singapore’s Economy?

The economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly impacted the demand for legal services in Singapore. As businesses scale back to their regular operations post-COVID, the hiring processes in the legal sector, especially in mergers and acquisitions, finance, and real estate, have seen a tremendous increase. Also, concerning the insurance claims post-COVID, the requirements for legal advice have increased.

With the progression of digital transformation technologies, there has been a growing demand for legal advice on data privacy and protection and cybersecurity-related aspects. Cybersecurity breaches may pose serious consequences, hence the need for legal advice on risk management and regulatory compliance is essential.

How has the Increase in Foreign Investment Impacted the Demand for Legal Professionals in Singapore?

Singapore has become a regional hub for numerous businesses and entices international capitalists for cross-border transactions. For this, foreign investors and stakeholders require legal assistance to conform to the complex regulatory frameworks of Singapore. Many international law firms have also been established in Singapore, which provides global access to legal services for prospective clients. 

Hence, the demand for legal professionals in Singapore has increased within the last decade, particularly in the fields of corporate law, commercial law, finance, and intellectual property. A few of the highly reputed law firms in Singapore are mentioned here:

  1. Drew & Napier LLC
  2. Allen & Gledhill LLP
  3. Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP
  4. Clifford Chance Asia
  5. Shook Lin & Bok LLP
  6. Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow
  7. Dentons Rodyk & Davidson LLP

These offer a wide spectrum of practice areas such as 

  1. Corporate law
  2. Commercial law
  3. Fashion law
  4. Criminal law
  5. Intellectual property law
  6. Real estate law
  7. Employment law

Their services are required by various industries in Singapore, such as 

  1. Finance
  2. Manufacturing
  3. Energy
  4. Technology

Future of the Legal Profession in Singapore

Owing to the advancements in technology, client demands, and changing trends of global businesses, the future of the legal profession in Singapore is bright. The following factors impact the future of legal occupations in Singapore:

  • Adoption of Legal Technology: The use of artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and blockchain technology are some of the novel tools that have transformed the legal frameworks in Singapore. These tools facilitate cost-effective legal research and documentation, and secured document sharing.
  • Emphasis on International Arbitration: With more and more businesses operating globally, the requirement of legal services such as dispute resolution is in demand. This requires law professionals with a broad understanding of the judiciary frameworks of Singapore.
  • Focus on Data Protection and Cybersecurity: Increasing incidences of cyber attacks and cyber crimes have led to a focus on data protection and privacy in the banking and finance sector. This involves the need for lawyers to address the legal issues related to cyber breaches in any field. 
  • Green Technology and Sustainability: Environmental law is a crucial law that has gained importance owing to the drastic climate change. This involves suggesting clients on issues such as carbon emission, waste management, and sustainability initiatives.
  • The emergence of Alternative Legal Service Providers: Legal process outsourcing firms and managed legal services provider services have become popular in Singapore. These offer cost-effective solutions and act as replacements for traditional law business models.

Legal professionals play a crucial role in society by protecting human rights and providing justice to all. We can help you handle the nuances of applying for a legal position in a leading law firm in Singapore. 

ALLEN Career Institute has been successfully imparting high-quality education to students for the last 34 years. We specialize in providing coaching to students preparing for medical and engineering entrance examinations. We have a well-drafted curriculum and intelligent teaching experts that assist in building a strong knowledge base and inculcating problem-solving skills in students.

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The legal profession in Singapore is showing a continuous evolution in response to digitalization, technology, rising global businesses, and a wide spectrum of areas of expertise. Being highly well-regulated and established, it sets a benchmark for other judiciaries around   the world and offers numerous career advancement and employment opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an Indian law degree valid in Singapore?

Yes, a lawyer with an Indian law degree can practice law in Singapore. However, additional requirements must be met (as discussed above).

How much does a lawyer earn in Singapore?

The average salary for a lawyer is $6,550 per month in Singapore.

Can an Indian law graduate work in Singapore?

Yes, foreign-qualified lawyers who pass the Foreign Practitioner Examinations (FPE) can register with the Legal Services Regulatory Authority as foreign practitioners under Section 36B of the Legal Profession Act 1996 to practice in permitted areas of Singapore law.

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