05 Sep 2016

Singapore to crack down on 'oversupply' of young lawyers

Singapore's legal industry is struggling to accommodate its growing glut of law graduates.

JKboy Jatenipat

Chief Justice of Singapore Sundaresh Menon has formed a 14-member committee to brainstorm solutions to the city state’s oversupply of law graduates. With too many grads hitting the local job market and not enough training positions available to absorb them, many young would-be lawyers are reportedly finding work in other sectors after completing their degrees. Last year, 550 new lawyers competed for around 490 training contracts in Singapore, and the number of new lawyers admitted to the Singapore Bar was double that of five years ago, at 509. For those able to score a training position, the battle is only half won – retention rates for trainees at some firms are as low as 30 to 50 per cent, according to Mr Menon.

Seeking solutions

One of the ideas already floated by Mr Menon to help tackle the glut is for firms to retain younger lawyers as paralegals first, so that they can develop their practical legal skills while waiting for associate positions to open up. However, he has has warned that adjusting expectations among grads will be a necessary part of any strategy. Students who enter law with financial motivations but with ‘little, if any, inkling of the law as a profession that finds its place in society in notions of justice, service and doing right’ should potentially look to build their careers elsewhere, he says. 

Sources: Asian Legal Business; Straits Times