Talent Crunch: How law firms stepping up efforts to fill the gap

Photo: You Tube screengrab from State Courts Singapore / https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUqthZKl6Kk

The proportion of mid-level lawyers has shrunk by 15% in the last ten years and with increasing demand for IP and commercial work due to the increase proliferation of tech companies in Singapore, law firms are looking at cross training their lawyers to meet the growing demand in this sector. Despite the demand, mid-career lawyers are leaving the profession .

In order to meet the shortfall and to cater to the rising demand, some law firms are expanding into the region by digitizing their legal services and expertise in the face of evolving demands.

Demand from Tech Sector

The entry of tech firms aiming to put up businesses within Singapore and the explosion of new technologies in major industries have caused the high demand for legal work.

Tech companies, likewise, are moving forward to make sure that their innovative work is covered by IP rights. This development has led to the increasing growth in demand for tech-savvy legal expertise.

Senior legal professionals have been compelled to evolve their roles and go beyond just providing counsel. Additionally, there have been increased expectations from employers on their in-house legal teams to also possess the business acumen so that their companies can stand in the best position, both in legal and commercial aspects.

Structured Learning 

To respond to the problem of legal talent shortage, employers in Singapore, who usually prefer recruiting local candidates, are stepping up their efforts in training junior associates or even fresh graduates. This comes in the form of structured learning and development programmes led and carried out by senior lawyers, typically the Head of Legal in business firms/organizations.

The Singaporean government is also doing its share of amplifying its commitment to the country’s regional legal expertise. Through the recently launched “Lawyers Go Global” programme –– jointly initiated by the Ministry of Law, the Law Society of Singapore and International Enterprise –– Singapore lawyers and law firms now have increased support in their globalization ventures.

The programme provides Singapore legal practitioners the opportunity and exposure to learn about the legal requirements abroad, and opens doors to new business in neighboring countries. Such an initiative underpins the importance of international and cross-border expertise in Singapore’s legal professionals.

Several lawyers have set up their own legal-tech startups to cater to this demand but the technology is still new and is far from replacing a good counsel.

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