New authority to regulate all law firms in Singapore

MinLaw has set up the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA).
MinLaw has set up the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA).PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - The regulation of all law firms here will now come under a single legal authority.

The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) on Wednesday (Nov 18) set up the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA), which will streamline licensing for law practices in Singapore.

The new authority brings together functions that were previously handled separately by the Attorney-General's Chambers and the Law Society of Singapore.

The former dealt with foreign firms while the latter tackled matters relating to local ones.

This integration is meant to ensure that business criteria, such as the names of law practices, foreign ownership and profit sharing, will be applied consistently across the board.

Under the new regime, employees of law practices who are not themselves lawyers will now be able to become partners, directors, or shareholders in their firms.

This will allow law practices greater flexibility in attracting and retaining non-lawyer talent, such as employees with experience in management or finance.

A new e-Services portal will bring all application transactions online. Members of the public will also be able to search LSRA's website for all law practices and collaborations registered with the authority, as well as all lawyers practising in Singapore.

The move by MinLaw follows one of the recommendations made last January by a committee to review and modernise the legal sector's regulatory framework.

The committee's recommendations led to amendments to the Legal Profession Act, which was passed last November and came into force on Wednesday.