SENIOR COUNSEL 2021
Honour and gratitude were running themes this morning, when the Singapore Academy of Law announced this year’s Senior Counsel appointees. They are: Mr Abraham Vergis SC (Providence Law Asia), Ms Kristy Tan SC (Attorney-General’s Chambers) and Professor Goh Yihan SC (Singapore Management University). Their appointments bring the number of Singapore’s Senior Counsel to 91.
Mr Abraham, 46, and Ms Tan, 39, have spent their entire careers in litigation, with the former beginning his career at Drew & Napier under the pupillage of Ms Indranee Rajah SC, a fellow Senior Counsel and now a Minister in the Prime Minister's Office. Ms Tan started her career in private practice as well, before crossing over to the AGC, where she is now gazetted as state counsel and deputy public prosecutor. Prof Goh, on the other hand, remains a familiar face in academia. The 39-year-old Dean of the School of Law at the Singapore Management University started his career as a Justices’ Law Clerk.
PASSING THE BATON
Besides gratitude for the appointment, the trio also expressed that it had spurred them to consider how best they give back to the legal community. Said Mr Abraham, “I come from a boutique small firm and I hope that my appointment will showcase the multiple paths to success. You don’t have to follow the conventional way of making it and I would like to encourage more young people to be more creative in their approach to practice.”
Ms Tan advises young lawyers to not be too fixated on a particular destination or title. “Pursue excellence in the work you do. Don’t get too caught up on whether it’s a big or small matter, a well-paying client or a pro bono one, whether you’re going to get credit or whether your boss is noticing your work. Keep pursuing the principle of excellence.”
Being an academic means that he will shape and inspire the next generation in a slightly different fashion, said Prof Goh. “In my day-to-day teaching, I hope to share my experience and knowledge to teach the next generation, and to also learn from them. And I think it’s very important to nurture the next generation of academics as well. I have the privilege of knowing young academics from the three law schools and their achievements tell me that the future is in good hands.”
Once a year, the Singapore Academy of Law’s Senior Counsel Selection Committee, chaired by the Chief Justice of Singapore, evaluates applications and appoints persons deserving of the distinction.