Law Society plans to shop for new home

Funds to come from sale of building, reserves and loans

The Law Society, which is currently celebrating its jubilee year, is planning to sell its current South Bridge Road office for not less than $19 million and use the sale proceeds to shop for new premises in the city.

It is looking to fork out no more than $31 million including stamp duty, renovation costs and other expenses.

In a circular notifying members of an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) next month to seek approval for the move, it said any new purchase will be funded by its reserves or bank loans, in addition to using proceeds from the sale of the current building.

The society made clear members will not have to pay any new building levy to help fund the property.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, Law Society president Gregory Vijayendran said: "We are privileged to be celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the Law Society this year. Over the five decades of our history, the society has grown in membership size as well as the scale and complexity of its operational functions which include a professionalised secretariat with 80 staff."

He said the society today provides a range of services to members including upskilling and professional development, and promoting access to justice and the rule of law.

"The practical question for the society is whether, given our present and projected size and scale of services and outreach, we should bring all our operations under one roof."

The Law Society's current premises at 39, South Bridge Road, is a shophouse which it bought for $7 million some 20 years ago.
The Law Society's current premises at 39, South Bridge Road, is a shophouse which it bought for $7 million some 20 years ago. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

UNDER ONE ROOF

The practical question for the society is whether, given our present and projected size and scale of services and outreach, we should bring all our operations under one roof.

LAW SOCIETY PRESIDENT GREGORY VIJAYENDRAN, responding to queries about why it is looking for new premises.

He added that from an investment perspective, the society is seeking to make a "sound and wise decision for future generations of Singapore lawyers" in the same way that its predecessors did in buying the current four-storey premises for $7 million some 20 years ago.

"This is important at a more intangible, innate level because part of the vision for the new premises is to catalyse camaraderie and community among our lawyers."

He also paid tribute to the society's members who made a "far-sighted decision" in 1996 to buy the present property. "That sacrificial purchase by members proved a sound and wise investment decision and has served us well all this while."

He said the proposal to sell the premises and buy a new one was positively received when it was discussed at a town hall meeting last week. A few locations have been shortlisted for consideration.

Former society president Chandra Mohan K. Nair, who steered the move to acquire the present premises during his term from 1995 to 1997, was upbeat for the society to have a new home.

Added Mr Vijayendran: "We know it will take more than a property purchase to turn our office into 'home truly'. But we will build that vision collectively."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2017, with the headline 'Law Society plans to shop for new home'. Print Edition | Subscribe