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  #1931 (permalink)  
Old 03-01-2018, 05:19 PM
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Hello world,

I have never been a forums person but have recently become involved in the recruitment process for our new joiners and so had the occasion to reflect on some of the themes that have been floating hereabouts. Thought I would offer some observations, for whatever it is worth.

By way of background, I'm currently in M&A practice at a major international law firm, just over 6 years SG PQE. Made the move about 2 years back after attending a rather disconcerting legal futures conference organised by Minlaw (gist of it was that liberalisation and change is inevitable; winter was coming and Minlaw can only hold the wall for so long - basically the themes Richard Susskind has been banging on for awhile).

Digressions aside:
- Grades are not everything, and they tend to fade in prominence the more senior you are. Major firms will always have a technical test as part of the recruitment process anyway and I think the tendency is to rely on that to gauge technical competence.
- For SG candidates technical proficiency is usually assumed, and if you're at the interviews your past work profile has passed muster. During the interviews we are trying to assess whether you are agile and 'switched on'. Most international firms in SG run relatively lean outfits, and all partners will be running regional businesses and will be on the road a lot. They need to know you can hold your own when they're not around, won't need handholding all the time, generally sensible and have decent judgment.
- We are also trying to figure out if you are someone willing to step up to the plate when the occasion calls for it - would you be ok jetting off to Mumbai or Hong Kong or Dubai to attend meetings alone? Deliver client training sessions on short notice? It does't happen every day but on the occasions they do we need to know you are ok going out of your comfort zone.
- Obvious point but do your homework about the firm and the team - there is a lot more transparency and information out there about international firms and it shouldn't be hard to find. Also do your homework on what kind of outfit you are applying to in SG - if you are looking for a proper international firm you would be disappointed when you land at Bakers and realise its a mcdonalds franchise network. Usually the best bets are firms which operate here as a branch of the mothership - much higher likelihood it's an integrated outfit and you aren't joining their second tier operations.
- Don't get ripped off on your package. Any decent international firm here should offer at least their London rates, and some of the US firms will pay NY scale. Again information on both is readily available. rollonfriday is a good resource for UK-headquartered firms. Also make sure not to have your PQE docked by more than 1.5 years unless there is good reason for it (e.g. time spent on sabbatical).

Random thoughts:
- I see grades discussed here a lot here. I really do not think it is a great proxy for the ability to do well as a practitioner, at least in non-contentious practice. My personal view is that you just need to be 'smart enough', after which EQ attributes - temperament, likeability, "user-friendliness" will be far more important. I can't speak for disputes practice but I imagine that first class brain is more critical when your are pushing the envelope on novel points of law, but in non-contentious practice we would be looking to steer clear of controversial or problematic areas as far as possible. I have also worked with terrific 2.2s, and at the same time watched 2.1s crash and burn from never progressing beyond the black letter law. Unfortunately at entry level there is little else to go on for firms' hiring decision so its really quite an unfortunate state of affairs.
- The SG legal market is maturing - look to HK or Australia for an idea of what that will look like. Quite apart from the maturing market, legal tech is coming into its own - every major international firm has an eye on this and is in an arm's race to build their proprietary systems. If you're somewhere where management isn't even thinking about this you need to move. At my firm our AI systems are almost reliable enough for mass roll out for discovery; we are now training it for due diligence. Our smart contracts can churn out fairly sophisticated first draft of transaction documents, complete with ancillary documents like resolutions and share transfer forms (automatically customised to the relevant jurisdiction!). At the end of the day, the least replaceable skillset will be those most closely connected to the interface with other people/clients. So stop stalking these forums already and go out!
Amazing advice. Thanks!

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  #1932 (permalink)  
Old 05-01-2018, 03:50 PM
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11/10?

You probably have not seen enough in your career (or just deluded or arrogant) to make such sweeping statements.

My spouse has the money and was accepted by the higher-tier UK law schools you mentioned but my spouse chose a Singapore law school (not because of prestige but because it was closer to family). I am in a magic circle firm (after being headhunted) and I am proud to be from SMU.
Agree with this poster. Firstly, law grads from NUS/SMU are not disadvantaged vis a vis their UK educated law grads when it comes to securing slots in international law firms that are operating in Singapore. It may well be difficult at the first instance (i.e. a NQ lawyer without much experience) but that is the same position for overseas law grads face as well.

A good law degree is advantageous as a stepping stone into a decent law firm handling cross border work. Beyond that, itís the individual and his/her exposure to the correct practice area (in other words, be suitably positioned with sufficient cross border work to be eventually headhunted by magic circle or foreign firms).

In all respect, banking has the most mobility. A person training in a big four banking dept would have sufficient ease of moving over laterally to a MC or international fairly easily. This is the nature of banking work, the skills set are highly transferable. Work with very little transferability (in this respect) would then be litigation, conveyancing, regulatory and local capital markets.

Thus it really depends on how a lawyer eventually wants to position himself/herself. There are very good lawyers dominating the litigation scene in Singapore and there would be very little incentive to move over to an international firm to do corporate work. In other words, sometimes the comparison is simply not necessary / not even called for in the first place due to the nature of the practice area and the kind of work that international law firm does.

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  #1933 (permalink)  
Old 06-01-2018, 11:59 PM
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Default Yearly Increments?

Would like to ask when can NQs in the local Big 4 expect a pay increment i.e. are the current starting pay packages based on 18 mths (heard this from a senior) or can we expect a pay increment in 12 mths? Many thanks!

- a PT forecasting his future earnings.

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  #1934 (permalink)  
Old 09-01-2018, 06:10 PM
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What are the benefits of getting a NY Bar qualification and/or a T-14 law school JD in addition to a Singapore LLB and a local Bar qualification if one is primarily interested in trial/arbitration work? What is a good class rank to have to be competitive in relation to a T-14 law school JD application? Any advice/thoughts is appreciated. Thanks!
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  #1935 (permalink)  
Old 10-01-2018, 01:57 PM
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Default Part B pass Rate

Dear all,

In light of the increased fail rate of the Part A exams, could anyone share the fail rate for the Part B exams?
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  #1936 (permalink)  
Old 10-01-2018, 02:02 PM
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Dear all,

In light of the increased fail rate of the Part A exams, could anyone share the fail rate for the Part B exams?
80-90% after the retest in March/April.
Firms are increasingly using part b to decide if a trainee is retained or not. Heard those who fail one subject or more but pass during the retest are not slated to be retained. Applies for the big four and mid size.
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  #1937 (permalink)  
Old 10-01-2018, 02:07 PM
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80-90% after the retest in March/April.
Firms are increasingly using part b to decide if a trainee is retained or not. Heard those who fail one subject or more but pass during the retest are not slated to be retained. Applies for the big four and mid size.
Firms are more forgiving if a person fails part A (given the known fact that the pass rate is 50%), but I also heard for the big four and most mid size, a failure in part A (which forces one to delay qualification by one year) means the RLT trainee is usually not confirmed for the TC or not slated to be retained.
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  #1938 (permalink)  
Old 10-01-2018, 07:03 PM
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80-90% after the retest in March/April.
Firms are increasingly using part b to decide if a trainee is retained or not. Heard those who fail one subject or more but pass during the retest are not slated to be retained. Applies for the big four and mid size.
Isn't it true that Part B no longer has resits? Not sure about this - incoming Part B Candidate this year
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  #1939 (permalink)  
Old 10-01-2018, 11:48 PM
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Firms are more forgiving if a person fails part A (given the known fact that the pass rate is 50%), but I also heard for the big four and most mid size, a failure in part A (which forces one to delay qualification by one year) means the RLT trainee is usually not confirmed for the TC or not slated to be retained.
Funny how the "known fact" of 50% Part A passes is a recent phenomenon.

In my time virtually everybody passed Part A. If you failed, its because you either totally didn't study for the paper or totally misread a major question, which wouldn't happen if you studied, by the way.

Terrible that they're using the Bar Exams as a gatekeeper for who gets to practice. Very inefficient allocation of resources. We moving towards a system like Japan where only 10% of aspiring lawyers pass the qualification examinations
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  #1940 (permalink)  
Old 11-01-2018, 12:29 AM
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Funny how the "known fact" of 50% Part A passes is a recent phenomenon.

In my time virtually everybody passed Part A. If you failed, its because you either totally didn't study for the paper or totally misread a major question, which wouldn't happen if you studied, by the way.

Terrible that they're using the Bar Exams as a gatekeeper for who gets to practice. Very inefficient allocation of resources. We moving towards a system like Japan where only 10% of aspiring lawyers pass the qualification examinations
I share the same sentiments. Itís a tough market anyway, and the glut is compounding the problem. Attrition rates are also very high. Law schools continuously churn out new graduates each year. In any case, itís hard to make it to the top of the ladder.
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