Foreign law firms should train more local graduates

Lawyers outside the State Courts.
Lawyers outside the State Courts. PHOTO: ST FILE

Much has been written about the oversupply of law graduates and the insufficiency of training contracts to go around ("New panel to address oversupply of new lawyers"; Aug 28).

One aspect that has not been explored, however, is the number of training contracts offered by foreign law firms which have been given licences to practise Singapore law.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that these law firms offer very few training contracts to graduates of our local law schools.

One reason for granting foreign law firms the licence to practise Singapore law was not only to open up our legal market, but also to allow our young lawyers to gain exposure and opportunities.

This was deemed to be an acceptable trade-off for opening up the market to foreign practices.

Based on anecdotal evidence, the foreign law firms don't seem interested in training fresh local law graduates. They prefer to poach trained lawyers from the local law firms.

Meanwhile, I understand that the big local law firms have seen erosion in their client base. This would have affected the number of fresh local graduates they would be able to take in, train and retain.

Could the authorities look into all this?

An imposition of training quotas on foreign law firms, in return for the licence to practise Singapore law, may not be out of place.

Josephine Chong Siew Nyuk (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2016, with the headline 'Foreign law firms should train more local graduates'. Print Edition | Subscribe