Singapore, 10 March 2011 – A reference guide on how lawyers should behave in and out of court, written with a touch of humour, was launched today by Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong.
A Civil Practice – Good Counsel for Learned Friends is the first publication of its kind where the rules of legal professional courtesy and etiquette in Singapore are compiled in a reader-friendly and handy publication.
The impetus for this guide came from the Chief Justice himself who, at the Opening of Legal Year 2010, reminded lawyers that to maintain the dignity of the profession, they must conduct themselves properly and treat each other with basic courtesy and respect.
The legal profession is a calling which upholds a strong tradition of courtesy and respect between the members of the Bar and also between the Bench and the Bar. To reinforce this, the Singapore Academy of Law will be giving copies of A Civil Practice to all its members and new lawyers who will be called to the Bar in 2011. The Singapore Institute of Legal Education will also be giving free copies to its students in 2011 and 2012.
A Civil Practice is written by lawyers for lawyers. The authors include Senior Counsel, Mr Vinodh Coomaraswamy and Dr Stanley Lai; practitioners, Mr Adrian Tan and Mr Anand Nalachandran; and Senior Assistant Registrar of the Supreme Court, Ms Teh Hwee Hwee. And in keeping with the aim of having the entire publication produced by members of the legal fraternity, Associate Professor Locknie Hsu from the Singapore Management University School of Law was roped in to do the illustrations.
In writing A Civil Practice, the authors wanted to avoid a preachy list of prescribed 'dos' and 'don'ts' but rather, to provide a reminder of the guidelines of proper conduct in an informal style. Filled with humour and even cartoons, the guide provides examples and tips on a range of topics such as punctuality, communications, relationship between senior and junior lawyers, proper court attire and forms of address. For instance, lawyers are advised to avoid strutting in court after scoring a point as "… strutting ensures that the witness and your opponent will try to repair it. And if you only think you've scored a point, strutting will make you look like an idiot." In keeping up with the times, there is also a guide on e-mail etiquette. For instance readers are advised not to use truncated language in email on professional matters such as "2moro".
The response from the legal profession to the guide has been very positive. Mr Harry Elias S.C. remarked, "This timely publication is a good and clear reminder that we should never take the proud traditions of the legal profession for granted. It will and must be a constant companion to all of us in the legal profession. This practical guide sets out simply and humorously some of the best advice on civility in legal practice. The tone is just right and pitched at a level that younger members of the Bar, whom we want to pass our traditions to, can relate. The handy format is perfect as a reminder of how members of an honourable profession should conduct themselves at all times."
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About Singapore Academy of Law
The Singapore Academy of Law (the “Academy”) is the umbrella body of the legal community in Singapore and has close to 8,000 members.
The work of the Academy is focused on three key areas: supporting the growth and development of the Legal Industry; building up the intellectual capital of the legal profession by enhancing Legal Knowledge; and improving the efficiency of legal practice through Legal Technology. The work of the Academy is driven by these three core mandates. This in turn is directed towards raising the standard and quality of legal practice and building a strong and dynamic legal community in Singapore.
Besides its role as the official law reporting agency in Singapore, the Academy’s other functions include providing continuing legal education for its members, legal publications, promoting legal research and scholarship, the reform and development of the law, alternative dispute resolution and the administering of formal training programmes for lawyers-to-be.