SINGAPORE - His father was appointed Senior Counsel at 57 years old. Now, Jason Chan has been awarded the same distinction, albeit at a younger age of 42.
This makes it the first time since the introduction of the Senior Counsel scheme in 1997 that both a father and his son are holding the title of Senior Counsel.
Mr Chan is one of three newly minted Senior Counsel announced by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon at the opening ceremony of the new legal year on Monday (Jan 6).
The other two are MP Murali Pillai and Mr Mohamed Faizal Mohamed Abdul Kadir of the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).
They join an elite group of lawyers recognised for possessing an outstanding ability as advocates, extensive knowledge of the law and the highest professional standing.
These lawyers have the right to suffix their names with the initials “SC”.
With the three new appointments, Singapore now has 88 Senior Counsel.
A partner with Allen & Gledhill LLP, Mr Chan is also a council member of the Law Society of Singapore.
His family is no stranger to the legal profession - his father Jeffrey Chan is currently a senior director at TSMP Law Corporation, while his sister Jacqueline Chan is a partner at the Singapore office of an international law firm, Milbank LLP.
Mr Chan attributed his achievement to the support of his colleagues and having excellent mentorship from various Senior Counsel.
“I have seen their example of what it means to be a Senior Counsel, and how you have to hold yourself with integrity and excellence,” he said.
“I have seen it across the board from those I have worked with, not the least of which is my own father.”
Mr Faizal is currently a deputy chief prosecutor and senior state counsel at AGC.
He also serves on the Appeals Board of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, where he presides over appeals against decisions heard in the Syariah Court.
Mr Murali, MP for Bukit Batok, is an equity partner with law firm Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP.
The three Senior Counsel had pointers for aspiring legal professionals.
“The advice I have for young lawyers is to combine legal work with community service,” Mr Murali said.
“This combination will allow them to have empathy for their clients, particularly the individuals that they represent.”
Mr Faizal stressed that having the motivation to make a difference to society is essential.
“Otherwise, given the hours you have to dedicate to the practice, you will ultimately burn out,” he said.
Mr Chan agreed, noting that it is difficult for young lawyers to see the rewards from legal practice.
“But as you get older, those rewards become more apparent. So do not give up – stay the course,” he said.