Law Society gets a new chief

Gregory Vijayendran will be the first non-senior counsel to head the society's governing team in over a decade

Mr Vijayendran, 48, will succeed Senior Counsel Thio Shen Yi as society president.
Mr Vijayendran, 48, will succeed Senior Counsel Thio Shen Yi as society president.

The Law Society will head into 2017 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 Law Society vice-president Gregory Vijayendran, 48, will on Jan 1 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 partner Adrian Tan as vice-presidents.

Allen & Gledhill partner Dhillon Dinesh Singh was elected treasurer.

A National University of Singapore graduate of 1992, Mr Vijayendranearned the Law Society's inaugural Pro Bono Ambassador award in 2009 and the Good Samaritan award by the Washington-based Advocates International in 2008.

He has volunteered in community-based legal clinics and is on the panel of the Legal Aid Bureau's assigned solicitor scheme to take up cases for the indigent.

"We will not lose the heart of pro bono services. That is our jewel in the crown. Our pro bono - including Criminal Legal Aid Scheme - champions improve access to justice by touching one life at a time," he said last month in his manifesto when seeking election to the council.

He currently chairs the steering committee that seeks to rationalise oversight and streamline operations to enhance charities' governance of the Pro Bono Services Office.

Mr Vijayendran ran a campaign pledging to seek the collective counsel of all stakeholders to "enable us to arrive at the wisest and just solutions".

"We are at a critical crossroads as a profession. We face challenges of revenue, fee pressure and eroding profit margins; technological changes, including increased online technology and online courts. As we upgrade ourselves to grapple with practice realities, the society must boost capability and training. We will search for 'blue ocean' strategies for large, medium and small firms," he said then.

Of the seven candidates who stood in last month's elections to the council for the senior category, Mr Vijayendran was one of only two lawyers to garner four-digit figures in the vote. The other was lawyer Lisa Sam whom Mr Vijayendran endorsed as an "invaluable" colleague on the council.

"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," he said yesterday on his election.

"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," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2016, with the headline 'Law Society gets a new chief'. Subscribe