New accreditation scheme for lawyers

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon walking out of Parliament House for a group photo, on Jan 9, 2017. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

Lawyers who are experts in their fields can now benefit from a new accreditation scheme by the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL), Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon announced yesterday.

The Specialist Accreditation Scheme will begin as a pilot for building and construction lawyers, with the first batch to be announced in January next year. More than 900 such lawyers are expected to benefit.

The scheme, which is believed to be the first in the region, hopes to leverage on the strong upswing in local, regional and global construction activity in the next five years.

Local projects include the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail project and the Tuas terminal.

"Participation in the scheme will be entirely voluntary... But accreditation will function as a mark of recognition that a particular lawyer, in fact, has particular skills and expertise," Chief Justice Menon said in his speech at the opening of the Legal Year.

The scheme may be extended to other areas of law in the future, such as shipping and arbitration, he added.

Said TSMP Law Corporation lawyer Melvin Chan, who has more than 15 years of experience in construction law: "This will shake up the industry in a positive way, as people will now have an objective reference point to know if lawyers have the relevant speciality."

Another new initiative by the SAL to help legal practitioners, legal services support staff and paralegals upgrade their skills to specialist levels was also launched yesterday.

Under the Legal Industry Framework for Training and Education (Lifted) scheme, an N-level holder will be able to acquire the necessary skills and progress to a legal secretary role after a few years.

The scheme will be implemented in phases over the year, starting with legal support roles. It will be expanded to include courses for corporate and commercial law, family law and legal technologies.

"This is part of the nationwide SkillsFuture initiative to promote individual personal and professional development," said the Chief Justice. Its programmes will also encourage innovative thinking in the law and legal technology.

Ng Huiwen

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2017, with the headline New accreditation scheme for lawyers. Subscribe