Speech by Mr Michael Hwang SC, Convenor of Senior Counsel Forum at the launch of Modern Advocacy: Perspectives from Singapore
Mr Michael Hwang SC

1 The Honourable the Chief Justice, the Honourable Attorney- General, Honourable Judges of Appeal and Judges of the Supreme Court, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

2 I speak to you today in my capacity as the unofficial Convenor of the Forum of Senior Counsel.

3 Academy Publishing, the Professional Affairs Committee of the SAL and the General Editors are to be commended on the publication of Modern Advocacy: Perspectives from Singapore. It is a significant milestone in the development of our own local legal scholarship. This is because it addresses an area, not of substantive Singapore law, but the often
overlooked area of practical skills. And not practical skills from another jurisdiction or time. Practical skills as they are deployed today by the best of our very own advocates in our very own courtrooms before our very own judges.

4 But my intention today is not merely to give credit where credit is due. My intention is also to highlight the volunteer spirit of Senior Counsel as a collective whole.

5 The collegiate body for Senior Counsel is the Forum of Senior Counsel. The Forum was established in July 2001. When we established the Forum, we were deeply conscious that Senior Counsel and the Forum are not apart from the profession but a part of the profession.

6 It is significant that virtually every contributor to this volume is a Senior Counsel. The only exceptions are advocates who transcend that rank, being sitting or retired judges.

7 Admission to the rank of Senior Counsel is a high honour indeed. It carries an obligation not only to uphold the highest standards of excellence in advocacy but also an added obligation to give  something back to the community and to the  profession. It is a credit to all Senior Counsel that none of us treat it as a sinecure.

8 Members of the Forum of Senior Counsel have discharged this added obligation with distinction over the years, each in our own way. Some of us serve the profession by assuming leadership positions in the Law Society or its Committees. Some of us undertake pro bono work by representing indigent clients or by accepting amicus briefs. Some of us provide free legal advice to individuals or to charitable organisations and other good causes. Several of us teach the advocates of the future at our two law schools or at PLC. Several of us participate in the law reform process by giving learned comment. (When asked.)

9 This book is a shining example of the willingness of Senior Counsel as a body to share the benefit of their learning and experience, and in some cases their proprietary techniques and trade secrets, with younger members of the bar. Some of them are, after all, future members of the Senior Counsel Forum.

10 To advance this aim further, the Forum of Senior Counsel will be organising a series of lectures intended to accompany the publication of this book. The purpose of the lecture series will be to add life, voice and colour to the wealth of practical advice contained in its pages.

11 With our skills and learning in the law, Senior Counsel are each in a unique position to serve, to teach and to act as a learned resource. The Forum of Senior Counsel is working towards a framework to enhance the Forum’s capability to harness and focus these individual capabilities for the good of the profession and the community as a whole.

12 The significance of this book and the associated lecture series, from the perspective of the Forum of Senior Counsel, is that it showcases the volunteer spirit of Senior Counsel and their willingness, in this case, to share and impart their skills with other members of the Bar, who may hopefully use the lessons of this book and the lectures to groom themselves to be Senior Counsel one day.

13 The Forum of Senior Counsel recognizes its obligations to contribute to the the profession and society at large and will continue to fulfil those obligations.

-- End --