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Law Society rolls out $1m relief package for members

Law Society rolls out $1m relief package for members

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 22 May 2020
Author: K.C. Vijayan

The society, in a package exceeding $1 million, is also reducing advertising fees on its online directory, and providing free job advertisements on its career portal and free accredited webinars it runs to help members fulfil their practising certificate requirements.

First-time lawyers will not have to pay the fee of about $800 for their practising certificate as the Law Society is picking up the tab, as part of its relief support for the profession following the Covid-19 circuit breaker measures.

The society, in a package exceeding $1 million, is also reducing advertising fees on its online directory, and providing free job advertisements on its career portal and free accredited webinars it runs to help members fulfil their practising certificate requirements.

"The Covid-19 experience has been a deeply humbling stress test in coping with a massive disruptor, gauging resilience and ensuring business continuity," said Law Society president Gregory Vijayendran in an online message to lawyers last week, when he listed details of the relief package.

The Law Society is the second major legal body to roll out Covid-19 support measures for its members.

Earlier this month, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon announced initiatives by the Singapore Academy of Law to help its more than 9,000 members benefit from a $1.9 million package to cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Senior Counsel Vijayendran said the Law Society's council is keenly aware that complying with the circuit breaker measures "has come at a great price" and has led to "sacrifice of all our usual law firm practice patterns, professional habits and our typical modus operandi in carrying out our law firms' business".

The waiver of the practising certificate fee is to support new lawyers and their hiring law firms. It will continue until March 31 next year.

Other moves in the first phase of the society's "emergency relief package" include slashing advertising fees for new advertisers on the Find a Lawyer online directory for Singapore law firms - to $200 per category from Aug 1 this year to Jan 31 next year, from the usual sums of $1,000 to $1,500 for each category.

The society has also facilitated non-financial help, including a technology support facilitator scheme for members who face difficulties in using the Zoom application or other online tools.

"The reality we cannot ignore is that many of us are also bracing ourselves for a challenging economic environment... There are glimmers of hope in some practice areas, including restructuring and insolvency, commercial disputes and employment... We hope these will be harbingers of new work for our law firms," said SC Vijayendran.

Lawyers interviewed welcomed the support, including the use of the society's welfare fund.

Mr Dhamendra Yadav said: "In picking up the tab for the practising certificate for young lawyers, the Law Society has gone further than some of its counterparts overseas.

"The Law Society has been responsive to the needs of the profession and it can do more for a profession that is increasingly diverse."

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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