29 June 2017
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Lawyers are keeping up with the times: Voices

13 Jun 2017

I am perturbed by the letter “Make legal services more accessible and affordable to clients” (June 7), and write in defence of lawyers. As we do owe a duty of care to clients and the court, we discharge it honourably.

We strive to do our best and to hold the Bar in esteem. Yes, the times and the legal landscape are changing, and technology is advancing, so the demands on lawyers are escalating. And we are keeping up.

Gone are the days of snail mail and giving lawyers a breather from responding to clients’ instructions, which we now receive via email and WhatsApp/text messages. We are always under pressure to meet court deadlines and clients’ needs.

Nevertheless, many lawyers and law firms have been providing information on their services, writing articles and posting on their blogs.

My firm’s website outlines services and areas of practice, with just enough information on the law for the public, and our blogs about divorce, criminal law, probate and estate matters expand on the law and its process.

We keep the laws and information on our website and blogs current. We have also developed mobile applications providing information to the public.

I must add that there is information readily available on the websites of the Supreme Court, State Courts, Family Justice Courts, Legal Aid Bureau and the Law Society of Singapore for public awareness.

The Community Justice Centre provides access to counsel by capping the cost of a basic legal package; further, there are 54 free legal clinics in Singapore for the public to approach.

For many lawyers and firms, the first consultation is free; subsequent meetings are chargeable. If a potential client is, however, seeking an opinion on an agreement or contract papers at the first meeting, surely that cannot be free.

I myself waive consultation charges if my services are engaged on the same day, and I believe that many lawyers do the same.

The public should not be sent the wrong message. Lawyers do their utmost to serve the needs of potential clients too.

Gloria James-Civetta

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