Foreign law firms can't give trainees required exposure

We thank Ms Josephine Chong Siew Nyuk for her feedback ("Foreign law firms should train more local graduates"; yesterday).

Local law graduates from the National University of Singapore and the Singapore Management University generally had no problem securing training contracts in local law firms in the recent past.

Between 2011 and last year, about 90 per cent of them secured training contracts, while 99 per cent found employment within six months of graduation. On the other hand, about 70 per cent of overseas trained graduates secured training contracts in the same period.

The position may, of course, change in the next few years, depending on law firms' assessment of the economy and workflow. We have seen some signs of the market softening.

Qualifying Foreign Law Practices (QFLPs) are allowed to practise in only certain areas of Singapore law, through Singapore-qualified lawyers. These are the commercial and corporate areas.

The Singapore Institute of Legal Education, however, requires that practice trainees have exposure to two or more of the following areas - civil litigation, criminal litigation, corporate practice and conveyancing practice - to qualify for admission to the Singapore Bar.

QFLPs, with the limited areas of Singapore law they can practise, cannot give trainees the necessary exposure to the practice areas required.

There are no plans currently to extend the areas in which the QFLPs may practise. In particular, there are no plans to allow QFLPs to practise litigation.

Praveen Randhawa (Ms)

Director

Corporate Communications

Ministry of Law

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2016, with the headline 'Foreign law firms can't give trainees required exposure'. Print Edition | Subscribe