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March 2, 2016

Launch of the RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Subhas Anandan Pro Bono Award

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing is pleased to present the RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Subhas Anandan Pro Bono Award today at the inaugural NUS Law Pro Bono Awards Ceremony 2016. The Ceremony was held at the NUS Bukit Timah Campus with Guest of Honour, Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State gracing the event. A tribute to Subhas Anandan, the Firm’s late Senior Partner and Singapore’s most illustrious criminal lawyer, the Award will provide $25 000 over a period of 5 years to fund worthy projects.  The first winner of the Award is the NUS Law Criminal Justice Club (CJC). The CJC advocates positive change in Singapore’s criminal justice landscape, most notably on the issues of wrongful convictions in Singapore and on developing a stronger military justice system for our servicemen. In awarding the CJC the Award, the Firm celebrates Mr Anandan’s legacy of pro bono work, especially in criminal cases. He along with the other Founders of the Firm believed in not just being a good law firm, but also in doing good for the community. Mr Chua Eng Hui, Partner at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, agreed and said, “The Firm recognises the importance and value of pro bono work. We are proud that many of our lawyers make time to be actively involved in pro bono efforts, and support our commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility and pro bono activities.” In his speech, Mr Rajan Menon, Senior Partner of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing also encouraged NUS Law students to continue with pro bono work after graduation. He shared, “For myself, 45 years of satisfying work has shown me that notwithstanding many personal and other challenges, it is possible to combine a fulfilling law career and also be actively involved in community efforts and pro bono work in line with the fundamental essence of Law as a higher and noble calling.” “The Firm has seen the good work done by NUS Law students over the past two academic years and we hope that as Singapore’s future lawyers, all of you will continue to be torchbearers for pro bono work, and carry on with greater gusto the pro bono spirit even after graduation.” Thanking the Firm in his remarks, Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean of the NUS Faculty of Law, said, “I’m deeply grateful to RHTLaw Taylor Wessing for supporting this initiative. Students do pro bono not for money or glory or high grades but because it’s important. Nevertheless, it is wonderful that we are able to recognize some of the most outstanding pro bono work that our students have done. I’m particularly pleased that they are building on the legacy of Subhas Anandan, who inspired a generation of law students through his criminal defence work and the example that he set.”   The media articles featuring the launch of the RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Subhas Anandan Pro Bono Award can be found as per below: "NUS law grad, students recognised for pro bono work", TODAY - 3 March 2016 "Recognition for outstanding pro bono legal work in helping the vulnerable adults", Lianhe Zaobao - 3 March 2016 "7 NUS law students recognised for pro bono work", Channel News Asia (Online) "Seven law students recognised for pro bono work while at NUS", Straits Times (Online) The full stories can be read on each respective publication on their websites.
March 1, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing launches verified WeChat Official Account

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing is pleased to be the first Singaporean law firm to launch its verified WeChat Official Account. This account is a platform for RHTLaw Taylor Wessing to reach out to a broader spectrum of Chinese clients, both locally and internationally. Since the release of WeChat in 2011, it has become one of the largest social networks in China, both for personal and business usage. To locate the Firm on WeChat, please download the WeChat app and search for the Firm via either of the options below: Search “RHTLawTW” or Scan the below QR code
February 29, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing congratulates Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat on being listed as a Client Choice 2016 winner

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing congratulates Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat on being listed as a Client Choice 2016 winner under the category of “General Corporate”. Chong Huat was recognised for his excellent client care and quality of service. A factor contributing to this ranking was based on clients’ testimonials, indicating his ability to add real value to their business above and beyond the other players in the market.                                                                                                                Client Choice research begins with a readership survey of in-house counsel subscribers to International Law Office and Lexology, but they also gather feedback at several international in-house counsel events and via the Client Choice website. Clients are asked to rate individual lawyers and law firms on the following client service criteria: quality of legal advice, commercial awareness, industry knowledge, strategic thinking, billing transparency, tailored fee structures, value for money, responsiveness, effective communication, clarity of documentation, sharing of expertise, appropriate staffing, project management, use of technology, loyalty and ethics. To ensure that the results cannot be influenced, law firms were not informed when this initial round of research was conducted. The full rankings can be viewed here.
February 23, 2016

Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat authored an opinion piece titled “Do more to support family and criminal lawyers” for the Straits Times

Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat has authored an opinion piece titled “Do more to support family and criminal lawyers” for the Straits Times. The article was first published in The Straits Times on 23 February 2016. Do more to support family and criminal lawyers Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Date: 23 Feb 2016 Author: Tan Chong Huat The establishment of the new UniSIM Law School, a specialist law school for the training of prospective family and criminal lawyers, comes at a time of great change for the legal profession in Singapore. Following significant regulatory changes last November, which included the entry of a new centralised entity to regulate local and foreign law practices, the Steering Committee's recommendations for what will be Singapore's third law school represent a paradigm shift in training lawyers. Unveiled on Feb 16 , the UniSIM Law School's mission is to produce "lawyers with a sound grasp of the law who have a strong sense of justice and a heart for their fellow man". The practice-oriented and multi-disciplinary curriculum for UniSIM's students will be welcomed by the legal profession, in view of the anticipated shortfall in family and criminal lawyers in the next decade. With its practical pedagogical approach, concerns that UniSIM will be second best to the law schools in the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Management University (SMU) have much less force, at least from the legal profession's standpoint. The emphasis on a holistic selection process is also intended to reduce the risk of lawyer attrition in these practice domains, as the student profile will be geared towards mature applicants with a predisposition towards family and criminal law. The outflow of graduates from UniSIM may also have no appreciable effect on the lawyer glut phenomenon, if they practise in these two potentially understaffed practice domains. The hopeful optimism that UniSIM graduates will, with such a carefully calibrated legal education, practise family and criminal law for the long term underscores the difficulties in ensuring that the supply of lawyers meets future demand. On the one hand, it is incontrovertible that UniSIM graduates, like graduates from the two other more established law schools, have a right to earn a living and should not be pigeon-holed into family and criminal law. No one can predict with certainty the future needs of the legal services sector and it would be wilful short-termism to curtail lawyer mobility, especially in the globalised legal landscape. On the other hand, seeing the glass as half full may not be sufficient assurance that the legal profession's future manpower needs will be met. While the NUS and SMU law schools do not bear the burden of transforming graduates into practising lawyers, UniSIM's raison d'etre is precisely for this purpose. If insufficient numbers of UniSIM graduates enter family or criminal law practice, what is likely to result is unmet community needs coupled with a more aggravated lawyer glut, not to mention an even more highly stressed legal profession. Thus, while the Steering Committee's recommendations are welcome, UniSIM and the legal community should do more to ensure the two practice domains will be adequately resourced in the medium to long term, while recognising market realities. Here are some suggestions. First, a postgraduate moratorium could be implemented to ensure that UniSIM graduates serve the areas of family or criminal law that they demonstrated passion and enthusiasm for before admission. The moratorium could take the form of requiring UniSIM graduates to take on, in their first three years of practice, a prescribed number of files (which can vary depending on individual circumstances) in either or both practice domains through the Legal Aid Bureau or the Law Society's Criminal Legal Aid Scheme. Second, the financial cost pressures which come with practising in these practice domains may be alleviated by allocating heavily subsidised rental space in community centres for law firms that practise predominantly community law. This measure will also promote access to justice, as community legal assistance would be readily available to the average Singaporean. Third, to help UniSIM graduates as well as existing family and criminal lawyers to stay the course, a formal practice support programme should be instituted under the auspices of the Law Society and UniSIM. Such a programme will assist community lawyers to better manage the evolving challenges of their practices, which are increasingly incorporating cross-border elements such as child abduction and transnational crimes. Finally, UniSIM, supported by the legal community, should hold an annual event to recognise the efforts of community lawyers, past and present. The late Subhas Anandan, a senior partner of my firm, was a pioneer in doing pro bono criminal work and was duly recognised for his efforts. Promoting community lawyers at this event would also inspire law students, whether from UniSIM or elsewhere, to take up the worthy cause of serving the community. As we look forward to the first intake of the UniSIM Law School next year, we should also look further to the long-term goal of ensuring sufficient numbers of community lawyers to meet the needs of Singapore society. Practising law is a journey that begins in law school and a good foundation must be set. But equally important are optimising the UniSIM Law School education and providing support and recognition for committed community lawyers in the course of legal practice. The four suggestions offer some plausible steps, beyond hopeful optimism, to enhance access to justice in Singapore. The writer is managing partner at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP.