Pro bono champ Gregory Vijayendran to be next Law Society president

SINGAPORE - The Law Society will head into a challenging new year with a new president and the first non-Senior Counsel to helm the governing team in more than a decade.

Rajah & Tann partner and current vice-president Gregory Vijayendran, 48, will succeed Senior Counsel Thio Shen Yi, who will remain on the Law Society Council as immediate past president.

Mr Vijayendran was elected by the 21-member Council which also voted in Legal Clinic LLC director Kuah Boon Theng and Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC partner Adrian Tan as vice-presidents. Allen & Gledhill partner Dhillon Dinesh Singh was elected Treasurer.

Mr Vijayendran said: "I am deeply privileged and honoured to serve the needs of the legal profession together with a diverse and exciting team of talented lawyer leaders.

"In the Law Society's 50th Anniversary year in 2017, we will continue to build on the good work of our predecessors. I hope to play a leading role together with my team after we take office in helping to preserve the best and highest traditions of the Bar, overcome present practical challenges faced by lawyers and also nurture our collective dreams for the future."

Among other things, Mr Vijayendran was distinguished in pro bono work, having earned the Law Society's inaugural Pro Bono Ambassador Award in 2009.

In the preceding year, he was conferred the Good Samaritan Award by the Washington- based Advocates International.

" Pro bono is doing good. In the context of the legal profession, practically it means taking up legal cases for the indigent. To provide access to justice to persons who are unable to obtain legal representation or legal advice by reason of their lack of means," he previously said in a Law Gazette interview.

"One of the main ways is by helping out in community legal clinics. I volunteer at both the Law Society's Community Legal Clinics (a Rajah & Tann corporate social responsibility initiative) and a community-based legal clinic at Joo Chiat. In addition, I and other team members are on the panel for the Legal Aid Bureau's assigned solicitor scheme and take up cases for the indigent," he added.

The Law Society has close to 5,100 members and is a body established under the Legal Profession Act to carry out various statutory functions prescribed under the Act, including maintaining and improving lawyer standards of conduct and learning, helping lawyers acquire legal knowledge and protecting and assisting the public in matters ancillary or incidental to the law.