Be prepared to adapt to economic and legal changes: K. Shanmugam tells SMU law graduates

SMU's commencement ceremony was held on its own campus for the first time, at its new School of Law building which opened earlier this year.
SMU's commencement ceremony was held on its own campus for the first time, at its new School of Law building which opened earlier this year. ST PHOTO: DON WONG

SINGAPORE - Be aware of the challenges and opportunities in the world, and be prepared to adapt according to changes, Law Minister K. Shanmugam said on Tuesday (July 11).

"Law doesn't stand alone... it's an ancillary service," he reminded 143 Bachelor of Laws graduates and 36 Juris Doctor graduates from the Singapore Management University (SMU) at its first commencement ceremony this year.

Singapore's economy and legal industry have done well, but internal challenges in demographics and size, and external competition from around the region mean that "we have to work harder to bring in, get legal work", said Mr Shanmugam.

The legal industry, for instance, faces competition from low-cost jurisdictions and technology, he said.

"All of this really calls for us to be on our toes, for the Government and industry to work together.

"You will have to develop a deeper understanding of laws and legal systems of countries in our region," said Mr Shanmugam, as he outlined the efforts made to boost Singapore's legal sector. These include making Singapore a dispute resolution hub and an international centre for debt restructuring.

These are the "types of areas where the quality of the mind still matters", Mr Shanmugam added.

SMU's commencement ceremony was held on its own campus for the first time, at its new School of Law building which opened earlier this year.

The university's class of 2017 is its 14th and largest batch of graduates. More than 2,700 of them will be conferred their degrees from Tuesday to Friday.