For the first time in several years, all the posts up for grabs in the Law Society's managing council will see a contest at its annual election today.
There is keen competition for the eight posts available and a total of 13 candidates are standing for election, seeking votes from 5,191 members through e-voting today.
Law Society president Gregory Vijayendran said yesterday that the multi-cornered contests were a good development for the society. "It contrasts sharply with the situation we had some years ago... when no one stepped forward during elections, such as in the middle category. I am encouraged by the impressive calibre of the candidates all around in this round."
The society represents the legal profession and provides various services for lawyers as well as pro bono legal services.
Lawyers with at least 15 years of practice comprise the senior category, while the middle category consists of lawyers with practice of less than 15 years but not less than five years. Those with less than five years' standing form the junior category. Members can cast votes only for candidates in the same category as them.
Each candidate is elected for a two-year term to represent his category of lawyers. The new members, together with incumbents elected or appointed last year, will form the council, which will then freshly elect the office-bearers for next year, including the president.
Manifestos pitched by candidates provided a snapshot of what lawyers from the various categories view as the key issues facing the profession.
It contrasts sharply with the situation we had some years ago... when no one stepped forward during elections, such as in the middle category. I am encouraged by the impressive calibre of the candidates all around in this round.
LAW SOCIETY PRESIDENT GREGORY VIJAYENDRAN
Veteran lawyer Chia Boon Teck, in vying for a senior category post, argued that "having practised in large, medium and small law firms over the past 22 years, I know and understand the issues which lawyers across the board face in our day-to-day grind".
Rival candidate Dinesh Singh Dhillon underlined the challenges that come with success.
Like other candidates, he cautioned that success should "not in any way diminish the responsibility our members owe to society - to always be willing and ready to defend or represent the vulnerable, marginalised or despised".
Lawyers Tito Isaac, Anthony Wee and Daniel Koh are the other senior-category candidates.
Middle-category candidate Paul Tan, 13 years out of law school, pointed out that only 10 per cent of his cohort remain in active practice and said it is important to develop this group of lawyers.
Fellow middle-category candidate Jason Chan noted that the 1,045 practitioners of his standing form the smallest group, having fewer than half the number in the senior category and over 800 fewer than in the junior category.
Lawyer Josephus Tan of the middle group said "it's time to give his best to the legal fraternity".
Ms Felicia Tan and Ms Amy Tan from the middle category, as well as Ms Grace Morgan and Ms Christine Low from the junior category, are running to reflect the concerns of women lawyers, who make up about 43 per cent of the 5,191 lawyers today, among other things.