JORDAN TAN’S MESSAGE TO NEWEST MEMBERS OF THE BAR
The Singapore Academy of Law congratulates the new members of the Bar!
The “class of 2020” has been the recipient of advice and encouragement in many fora, more so than its predecessors for obvious reasons. While the brave new world which confronts the class of 2020 presents novel challenges to be tackled and opportunities to be seized, it does not in any way alter the core mission of the advocates and solicitors that is to further the aims of justice for all. Indeed, the brave new world desires and needs justice more than ever as the pandemic exacerbates the effects of inequality. One only needs to reflect on the fact that the ability to advocate or transact virtually puts lawyers at an advantage compared to other professions or livelihoods that might have faced more severe disruption. The numbers of those in our community who need our help have only increased.
Hence, the “class of 2020” like its predecessors can draw purpose and therefore strength from this noble calling to advance the aims of justice; strength which is much needed in times like the present. Practical considerations of obtaining employment, good mentorship, sharpening legal skills and general career advancement will, of course, vie for attention in the minds of you, the young advocate and solicitor. These are entirely legitimate considerations to which careful attention must be given. This is why the Singapore Academy of Law rolls out a suite of wide-ranging programmes every year to benefit lawyers of all levels of seniority. In this connection, the Young Members’ Chapter focuses on initiatives for young lawyers which we hope you will find useful and actively participate in.
One of the programmes organised by the Young Members’ Chapter recently is titled “Shining the Light On Mental Health Taboos”. There is no question that mental health issues, already an area of concern for practitioners prior to the scourge of the Covid-19 pandemic, will need increased attention in the present climate. As a profession which serves the community at large, this presents the unique opportunity to also look out for others (and one another) where mental health issues are concerned and meaningfully expands the definition of “counsellor”. A kind word or gesture may well provide the nudge in the correct direction and put another on the path to mental health recovery. As the more experienced practitioners will tell you, those who have a brush with the law rarely have problems only with the law. I encourage you to learn more about how mental health issues arise and the avenues for help for your benefit and those around you.
On a brighter note, one of the areas of momentous change is the evaporation of long-held resistance to technology by many in the legal fraternity (including myself). For years I have turned up at every hearing in Court with reams of hardcopy documents only to be shredded when the hearing is over. With the onset of virtual hearings, I have gone completely paperless and have found document management software and my tablet to be even more effective than relying on hardcopies. Think of the positive environmental impact! These changes in mindset and practice bode well for your generation, the digital natives who are so accustomed to the use of technology.
To conclude, as you grow in skill and expertise, may I ask that you consider giving back to the profession by collaborating with the Academy to share your experience with your contemporaries and juniors to come. I look forward to working with you.
A LIFE IN THE LAW
Mr Jordan Tan, Co-Head, Young Members’ Chapter
Singapore Academy of Law Professional Affairs Committee
Called to the Bar: 2013
Jordan has spent 5 years as a legal service officer at the Supreme Court, 5 years as an advocate and solicitor at a Singapore law practice and the past year acting as an advocate only (i.e. as instructed counsel). This shows that it is not only millennials who cannot make up their mind. Jordan has found a way to capitalise on his primary school teachers’ persistent complaint that he talks too much by becoming a lawyer. He cites one of the two fundamental tenets of natural justice, namely, the right to be heard when anyone tries to shut him up. Outside of the law, he finds joy in running in one of the many nature reserves and watching his two young boys pick up tennis, taekwondo and swimming.
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