Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon's Message to the Legal Profession on Leadership Transition at SAL

Thursday, 25 February 2021

The Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon

Supreme Court of Singapore

In early February, Serene Wee stepped down as the Chief Executive of the Academy after 27 years of distinguished service and unparalleled dedication. In her time at the Academy, Serene played a vital role in influencing and implementing almost every transformative milestone of the legal profession, from the launch of LawNet, to the establishment of the Singapore Mediation Centre, to the re‑publication of close to 50 years of local judgments as part of the Singapore Law Reports. With her quiet and unassuming style of leadership, Serene steered the Academy through several chapters of its history and helped lay the best foundation any organisation could hope for as it braces for a time of great change and disruption. All of us at the Academy are indebted to Serene for her selfless devotion to our cause, and I, in particular, am delighted that Serene has agreed, at my request, to remain with us in a part-time capacity as a Senior Advisor, to assist the Executive Board and me as we continue with the organisational transformation of the Academy.

The next stage of this transformation will be led by the Academy’s new Chief Executive, Rama Tiwari. Rama joined the Academy in July 2019 as its Chief Digital Officer to lead our digital transformation efforts. Having spent time in practice and in-house, Rama brings an understanding of the legal profession and its needs that is deep as it is broad. This, together with his extensive regional and international experience in the technology sector, will put him in good stead to lead the Academy and assist the profession at this time when internationalisation and technology are going to be the key drivers of change.

This leadership transition comes at a critical juncture for our profession as amidst a host of other disruptive forces, we also strive to navigate an uncertain landscape in the wake of the global pandemic. COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the rate of adoption of digital technologies as it has laid bare the fact that these can indeed be radical change agents, and this trend is likely to persist well after the pandemic. As I observed at the Opening of this Legal Year, the pandemic has forced us to fundamentally re-examine our long-held assumptions about the ways in which we go about our work in the law. Rather than be daunted by this, we should embrace it as an invaluable opportunity that will lead us to better and more effective ways to carry out the vital work of administering justice.

The Academy has a key role in uniting the profession in working towards these objectives. While we have and will continue to help our members with their immediate needs in these challenging times, we will also develop programmes and infrastructure to help us grow and thrive in the post-pandemic world. Some of these are already in the pipeline and will be rolled out in stages from this year.

I thank you for all your support, and I encourage you to continue to give us your feedback and work closely with Rama and his team so that collectively, we can leverage the new opportunities to re‑imagine and re-shape the future of our profession.