115 lawyers called to the Singapore Bar via video-conferencing platform Zoom

This is the first time the Supreme Court has admitted lawyers to the Bar remotely. PHOTO: SUPREME COURT OF SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - In an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court on Wednesday (May 13) admitted 115 lawyers to the Singapore Bar via Zoom, a video-conferencing platform.

The lawyers were admitted over six sessions conducted remotely on the same day.

Three sessions were presided over by Justice Choo Han Teck, and the other three by Justice Vincent Hoong.

This marks the first time that the Supreme Court has admitted lawyers to the Bar remotely, a spokesman told The Straits Times.

The courts in Singapore are hearing only essential and urgent matters until June 1, as a result of circuit breaker measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The majority of hearings in April used remote telecommunication technology such as Zoom, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said in a message on April 24 to court users and legal practitioners.

He added that some hearings will likely continue via video or teleconferencing even after the end of the circuit breaker measures.

On Wednesday, Justice Choo told the 60 lawyers appearing before him that the Covid-19 crisis emphasised three lessons - social responsibility, patience and compassion.

He encouraged the lawyers to innovate and "embrace new ways", but also remain honest, diligent and humble.

Addressing the 55 lawyers before him, Justice Hoong said that the legal profession is currently facing challenges and disruption, especially during the Covid-19 crisis.

"The fact that we are conducting these proceedings remotely is a sign of the many changes that have become necessary and are likely to remain so," he said.

"This is the new normal."

He hoped that the newly-minted lawyers would uphold a life of integrity and learning.

"Should you find your vocation in the law, may it be that at the end of your career, those who know you and have been touched by you will be able to testify this of you: 'truly, a professional, of a noble profession'," he added.

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