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This article is written by Charul Mishra, a student pursuing B.A.LLB from Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad. In this article, the author has dealt with the Scope of Indian Lawyers in Singapore.

Introduction

It becomes very important for a law student to know about their career growth in the field of law, whether he or she wants to practice in India or Abroad. In this article, we have discussed the scope of Indian Lawyers in Singapore. Moreover, this article talks about eligibility requirements to practice in Singapore as lawyers, important areas of practice, top recruiters, and pay scale of a lawyer in Singapore.

Required Qualifications

Those Indian law graduates who are registered to practice law in an Indian jurisdiction can be registered with the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) as a foreign lawyer under the Legal Profession Act to practice as a lawyer in Singapore. After passing the Foreign Practitioner Examinations, the foreign qualified lawyer can be registered with the LSRA as a foreign practitioner and practice permitted areas of Singapore law. A foreign qualified lawyer must have at least three years of experience in legal practice, whether in Singapore as a temporary legal practitioner or in India before applying to sit for the Foreign Practitioner Examinations. 

The basic eligibility for a Singapore based lawyer is that all lawyers, intending to practice in Singapore, must have a valid practising certificate, which is renewable annually, usually by 31 March of the relevant year. But for foreign lawyers, such as India based lawyers, who are registered under the Legal Profession Act, they need to hold a practising certificate, unless the foreign lawyer is registered under Section 36E of the Legal Profession Act. Depending on the type of registration held, the length of registration can range from one to three years.

Indian lawyers registered in Singapore can practice foreign law and/or Singapore law in the “permitted areas of practise” to the extent to which the law practice and lawyer is permitted to practice under the Legal Profession Act, depending on the type of registration held. Apart from this, the primarily written code which is followed in Singapore is The Legal Profession Act. This is the primary legislation which governs the practice of law in Singapore. It amends and consolidates the law relating to the legal profession in Singapore.

The Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules 2015 are a set of rules which set out principles and standards of professional practice, etiquette, and conduct which lawyers must meet. The Law Society of Singapore Practice Directions provides guidance notes and rulings relating to professional practice, etiquette, conduct, and discipline. Also, an Indian lawyer registered under Section 36P of the Legal Profession Act can appear in any proceedings in the Singapore International Commercial Court. 

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Practising as a lawyer in Singapore

Only a regulated legal practitioner can provide legal services in or from Singapore. A regulated legal practitioner includes a solicitor or Registered Foreign Lawyer (RFL) within the definition of the Legal Profession Act. A foreign law practice must be licensed under the LSRA before it can provide any legal services in or from Singapore. Foreign law practices can apply for a license to establish a commercial presence in Singapore through the following law practice structures which include Foreign law practice, Qualifying foreign law practice, Joint law venture (structured as either a partnership or a company), Formal law alliance, and Representative office. 

A foreign lawyer cannot represent clients in a Singapore court. However, an exception to this rule is if the court permits a Queen’s Counsel, or a lawyer of equivalent rank, on an ad hoc basis for a specific case under Section 15 of the Legal Profession Act.

Registration of an Indian Lawyer in Singapore Jurisdiction

An Indian lawyer registered under Sections 36B, 36C or 36D of the Legal Profession Act with the LSRA is a regulated foreign lawyer. An individual registered to practice law in another jurisdiction can register with the LSRA as a foreign lawyer under Part IXA of the Legal Profession Act to practice foreign law in Singapore. Following are the categories of Individual registration:

  1. Section 36B: Registration of a foreign lawyer to practice Singapore law and/or foreign law in Singapore.
  2. Section 36C: Registration of a foreign lawyer to practise foreign law in Singapore.
  3. Section 36D: Registration of a foreign lawyer (who does not practice in Singapore) to be a director, partner, or shareholder in, or shares in profits of a Singapore law practice.
  4. Section 36G: Registration of a regulated non-practitioner (the registrant must be either a non-lawyer or a foreign-qualified lawyer who is not registered with the LSRA).
  5. Section 36P: Registration of a foreign lawyer to appear before the Singapore International Commercial Court.

Only foreign lawyers who intend to appear and plead in the Singapore courts need to be admitted to the Singapore Bar. A foreign lawyer intending to be qualified and practice Singapore law and to appear before the Singapore court will have to take the Singapore Bar Examinations and be admitted to the Singapore Bar. A foreign lawyer intending to practice permitted areas of Singapore law must pass the Foreigner Practitioner Examinations conducted by the Singapore Institute of Legal Education.

Areas of Practise in Singapore

The major areas of practice in Singapore available for the Indian lawyers or any other foreign lawyers in Singapore are given as:

Banking Law 

This is one of the most important areas of practice in Singapore. The Banking regulation consists of Singapore-licensed banks that come within the ambit of the Banking Act and the Monetary Authority of Singapore Act (MAS Act). The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), as the integrated regulator and supervisor of the financial services sector, supervises and regulates banks and their operations. In addition to the Banking Act and the MAS Act, and the subsidiary legislation issued under them, banks must comply with notices, circulars, guidelines, practice notes and codes issued by MAS from time to time.

Finance Law 

This is another significant area of practice in Singapore for Foreign Lawyers. The Finance law framework consists of financial services which are regulated under different legislative frameworks in the key areas of banking, insurance, securities and derivatives, financial advisory, and payment services.

Corporate Law

This area of practice is not only important in Singapore but also in India. The Corporate Law framework consists of the system by which companies are directed and controlled. Its objective is often stated as being the enhancement of corporate profit and shareholder gain while having regard to the impact that this may have on other stakeholders of the company.

Arbitration 

Not only in Singapore but in almost every country, arbitration has become important from every domestic to international contract or agreement. Singapore has emerged as one of the world’s leading centres for commercial arbitration. According to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Trade Register Report 2015, Singapore has consistently been ranked as the number one preferred seat for arbitration in Asia and among the top five preferred seats globally.

Intellectual Property Law

Singapore provides one of the world’s best areas in law for the protection of a company’s intellectual property. In the year 2016, the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index 2016-2017 ranked Singapore fourth in the world for intellectual property protection. Due to this, it allows many foreign lawyers to practice here successfully.

Maritime Law

With time Maritime law is developing and due to this, many lawyers are interested in such practice of law. This is one of the significant laws which has given a wider scope to the lawyers in Singapore. 

Top recruiters

1. Joyce A. Tan & Partners LLC

Joyce A. Tan & Partners LLC is a law firm in Singapore. This firm was founded in 1998 in the name of Joyce A. Tan and Partners. This firm also won awards for its practice in subjects like commercial law, intellectual property rights, technology, telecommunications, privacy, media and a strong outlook internationally.

2. Allen & Gledhill

This firm ranks among the top law firms in Singapore consistently. Allen and Gledhill covers every law practice area which is practiced in courts in Singapore. This firm has its office in Singapore and Myanmar. It also has an associate firm in the name of Rahmat Lim & partners in Malaysia and another alliance firm in Indonesia in the name of Soemadipradja & Taher. The Firm has an employee number of about 600 which consist of 550 lawyers in one region.

3. Rajah & Tann

This firm is based in Singapore with its offices in nine Asian countries. This firm is highly ranked among the topmost firms in Singapore in all the practicing areas. Also, known for being one of the Big four legal firms in Singapore. This firm has various clients which involve multinational and fortune 500 corporations as well as emerging high-tech enterprises and start-ups. This firm comes under the outstanding list in the competition table in 2019.

4. Shook Lin & Bok

This firm mainly works in the areas of Banking and Finance. This Firm is the lender to a Singaporean Branch of a Malaysian Bank. The firm helps the bank in the financing of around $32.4 million acquisition and development of the land parcel at Chong Kuo Road which is in the Government land Scales Program through a joint venture which involves various subsidiaries of SGX-Listed OKPHoldings, HSB development, and Lian Soon Holdings.  

5. Eversheds Harry Elias

This law firm was made by merging of firms namely Harry Elias Partnership and Eversheds Sutherland in Singapore. They also formed a firm in Brunei Darussalam. This firm has around 29 partners, around 90 employees, and more than 170 people working in the offices of Singapore and Brunei in June 2017. The main practice areas of the firm are in construction, corporate, merger and acquisition, dispute resolution, and intellectual property rights. This firm also has various key contacts for the practising areas like Philip Fong, Justin Chia, and Claudia Tro. 

                    

6. TSMP Law Corporation

TSMP Law corporation is a firm which is one of the nation’s top corporate law firms. This Firm involves around 500 fortune companies and various private wealthy individuals from all over the world. The key figures of this firm include Shen Yi Thio, Stefanie Yuen Thio, and Melvin Chan. Recently, June Ho, Advocate & Solicitor, Supreme Court of Singapore, joined the firm as a partner and works for the firm’s transactions practice in February 2019.

7. Wong Partnership

Wong Partnership is a law firm with its offices and networks in Southeast Asia, China and the Middle East. This firm is an established firm of around 300 lawyers associated in eight global cities. The major practice areas of the firm consist of advisory and transactional work which includes various landmark corporate transactions and high-profile litigation and arbitration matters. This firm has also achieved an outstanding head under the column of dispute resolution this year. Also, in 2018, Teck Wee Tiong joined the firm as a partner and helped the company under Dispute Resolution Practice.

8. Asia Practice

This legal firm is corporate based and focused on financial practices. The major practice areas of this firm are in the financial projects and merger and acquisition space. This firm involves various clients which include corporations as well as market participants and stakeholders. The status of the firm has come under the head of “Recognised” in the domain of banking and finance this year. 

9. RHTLaw Taylor Wessing

The major practice areas of this firm are in the consumer goods and services, real estate, technology and telecommunication sectors. In the year 2018, the firm was joined by two partners namely Ling Ling Luo and Raja Ram Ramaiah who helped the firm under the practice of dispute resolution. While, in the current year, Richard Tan from Barker Henley joined a partner to the firm under the practice of corporate law and merger and acquisition. 

10. Zico Insights Law

This firm was formed in the year 2015 which was led by Yap Lian Seng Chua Wei Min and David. The major practice areas of the firm include capital markets, corporate law and merger and acquisition.

Payscale

The Payscale of a lawyer in Singapore depends on his position in particular law firms or law offices. For a Paralegal in a firm, the average pay scale is between S$19k – S$70k while for an attorney or lawyer in a law firm is between S$37k – S$279k. For an independent council doing litigation in the courts of Singapore, the average pay scale is between S$54k – S$203k while for an Associate Attorney in a law firm, the pay scale is between S$46k – S$116k.

Conclusion

Although the course of the culture of the legal profession is different in both the countries, India and Singapore there are various legal structures which are similar in both of them. Although, Singapore is open to international firms, unlike India, which raises a bar of competition and performance for those who want to apply there as practising lawyers, especially for foreign lawyers. However, the foreign lawyer can successfully get the position of a practising lawyer in Singapore if proper procedure is followed by him or her.


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