Future lawyers will need specialised expertise and market knowledge: Indranee Rajah

While Singapore lawyers are well regarded for their strong technical knowledge, clients now want more, says Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law Indranee Rajah.
While Singapore lawyers are well regarded for their strong technical knowledge, clients now want more, says Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law Indranee Rajah.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF LAW

SINGAPORE - A lawyer of the future will need to have deep expertise in specific practice areas, market knowledge, and even leadership and business skills, said Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah on Thursday (July 20).

While Singapore lawyers are well regarded for their strong technical knowledge, clients now want more, she told about 300 lawyers and legal professionals at the start of the Future Lawyering Conference 2017.

"In addition to technical knowledge, they want lawyers who understand their business, their industries and the markets they operate in. They need you to be someone who is a trusted business adviser by virtue of your knowledge of the law and their business," she said in her keynote address.

The two-day conference, organised by the Law Society of Singapore, features various sessions on globalisation, technology and changing client expectations.

Ms Indranee said that a way for lawyers to build deep expertise in practice areas include secondments to clients, the law firm's overseas office or regional partner firms, and overseas specialist law firms.

In this respect, the Economic Development Board is piloting a secondment programme for lawyers with the World Bank, in the projects and infrastructure areas, she added.

She urged lawyers to join to gain insights on public-sector infrastructure financing, which will increasingly see a convergence with private-sector work.

"You need to understand how this convergence is happening and how that space operates if you want to take advantage of the Belt and Road initiative," she said, adding that those who acquire industry expertise and knowledge will become "a truly complete lawyer".

China's One Belt, One Road initiative aims to boost trade between countries by linking Asia to Europe with an unbroken chain of modern infrastructure such as ports and railways.