BENJAMIN GAW ON LAWYERING, TWO DECADES ON
The changes are dramatic, to say the least.
In the two decades since Mr Benjamin Gaw entered practice, he has seen how aspects of lawyering have already changed dramatically, thanks to advances in tech. Take the drafting of contracts as an example—in the early 2000s, a well-thumbed copy of the Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents was often the first port of call for a young associate. These days, fresh-faced lawyers benefit from the online database of precedents found on LawNet—a project that Mr Gaw contributed to through Drew & Napier.
He believes that the initiative bodes well for today’s clients, who expect the rapid turnarounds of contracts as a given. “Beyond that, they also expect their legal advisers to be familiar with their business models and industries that the clients operate in,” he observes, adding that the database offers a practical introduction to these.
“So when I learnt of the project, I was naturally very excited,” says Mr Gaw, who is a Director in Drew & Napier’s Corporate and Mergers & Acquisitions practice group, and also co-heads the firm’s Healthcare & Life Sciences practice group.
He pauses, perhaps realising some irony in his statement. “As a corporate commercial lawyer myself, it might seem counter-intuitive for me to be excited about the launch of a commercial contracts precedent database,” possibly because of the “increased competition” it may create in the commercial law space. However, Mr Gaw welcomes this, pointing to what it could do for the Singapore brand: “With a robust set of commercial precedents based on local law, Singapore law and Singapore will be further used for commercial transactions, which is a win-win for all.”
But he stresses that precedents are not a silver bullet or one-size-fits-all contract. “Commercial practice is not about slavish reliance on commercial precedents,” he explains. “It is important for a lawyer drafting a contract to always critically examine each clause in the draft, even boilerplate clauses, to see if these are suitable for the transaction at hand, and whether or not they are in the best interest of their client.”
This attention to detail has also been espoused by another giant in the commercial law sphere, Ms Stefanie Yuen Thio. Agreeing, Mr Gaw adds that another important feature of the LawNet Commercial Precedents project is the unique chance that lawyers can learn from fellow practitioners like Ms Yuen-Thio, the managing partner at TSMP Law. “Ultimately, as one of my legal mentors once told me, nobody has a monopoly over knowledge. I think it was important for several industry players to be a part of this project so that we can contribute to the growth of the entire sector as a whole."
Commercial Precedents are now available on LawNet at no extra cost to existing subscribers.
A LIFE IN THE LAW
Mr Benjamin Gaw
Called to the Bar: 2002
Benjamin started life as an insolvency lawyer handling both disputes and corporate restructuring matters. He then focused on mergers & acquisitions and commercial and transactional matters, with a strong focus in healthcare and life sciences and in Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT). He regularly acts for and advises clients on a wide spectrum of mergers and acquisitions and other transactional and corporate and commercial matters. These matters include sale and purchases of companies and corporate assets, amalgamations, joint ventures, shareholder agreements, corporate restructuring as well as general commercial law.
As the co-Head of the firm’s Healthcare and Life Sciences practice group, Benjamin advises on the full spectrum of matters involving the biotechnology, medical devices, healthcare, and pharmaceutical industries. He is also a director in the firm’s TMT practice group. In relation to technology and corporate intellectual property matters, Benjamin regularly advises on legal issues in the commercialisation and exploitation of techonology and intellectual property rights.
Benjamin’s practice also extends to employment law, where he co-heads the Employment Practice Group and advises on issues arising in employment relationships, from hiring to retention and exit management, as well as on trade union matters.
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