“Legal ethical standards are not dropping as there is no shortage of enforcement rules in Singapore” declared a very senior lawyer to The Independent.
As a matter of fact, he said there is even an undeclared principle of having senior lawyers doubling up as role models for junior and younger lawyers as they run their paces.
Though the legal profession in Singapore has evolved over the years it has been learned by The Independent that law students are drilled in the nuances and practices of ethics when in law school.
The burning question therefore, is how far have these precepts gone into addressing the odd and sometimes recurring cases of lawyers being summoned to answer for transgressions that otherwise, wittingly or unwittingly would wind up doing the unthinkable to Singapore.
Were those lessons in ethics really sufficient or should there be greater institutional safeguards to rein in errant lawyers wandering off the proverbial beaten track?
As matters stand and resulting primarily out of the 1987 spat between the government and the law society, the integrity of lawyers has and always been uppermost in the minds of the patronising public and concerned authorities.
Little then was left to chance and little now will be left to fall by the wayside.
At the heart of the matter is not just about the law. It is much about presenting a profession in the highest of all esteems that it truly becomes worthy of holding a candle to.
Though much has changed since the 1980s especially of the population of lawyers as with changes to the Legal Profession Act and the rising number of law schools, the law still attracts the multitudes into its fold.
Yet the larger and purposeful dynamic of the profession cannot be lost because as is the intentions of governments everywhere in the world, the gloss that comes with the confidence laymen and lawyers repose in a judiciary, is unquantifiable and priceless.
That was more than amplified by the Singapore Institute of Legal Studies when it called the precept of ethics in the practice of law over its website to “justify public confidence in the access to legal services which are honestly, competently and effectively delivered by trustworthy lawyers in accordance with the norms of justice”.
Aiming for zero tolerance for malpractices maybe an ideal worth striving for, but as it remains it plainly remains as an ideal for now.
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