Friday, May 24, 2024 - 10:07


His take on forging a positive team culture, moving to a chambers set-up and SAL’s Junior Lawyers Professional Certification Programme (JLP).



Late nights and weekend work is par for the course for many lawyers. But it’s something Mr Khelvin Xu wants to change. “Working day and night should be the exception and not the norm.  I want to create a positive vibe for my team here,” he says, referring to his new team at Covenant Chambers LLC.

He continues, “If we care about this profession and want our fellow members to lead fulfilling and happy lives, they cannot just be grinding away like robots. There needs to be greater meaning and purpose in the work they do.”

Khelvin’s time at Covenant Chambers comes after 15 years at a large law firm, where he learnt the nitty-gritties of commercial disputes. The experience has convinced him that the best way for a junior lawyer to learn the ropes is by jumping right in.


Khelvin and part of his team from Covenant Chambers, who clinched first place at a recent pub quiz organised by the Law Society


He has been forthcoming—both on LinkedIn and in our interview—about the many learning opportunities his previous firm gave him, right from the very start.

“You learn by doing, you don't learn by sitting there and reading a book. You've got to be in the thick of action, doing the drafting, interfacing with the client. Seize the chance to go into the arena by yourself, because that’s crucial for the learning experience.”

Besides experience, Khelvin also had the luxury of extensive professional development, thanks to his previous firm’s training roadmap for junior lawyers. “We had external trainers guide us on mediation, negotiation and even business development.”

However, he is conscious that not all firms have the luxury of resources to create such a roadmap, or to engage external trainers. That explains why he champions SAL’s latest initiative to train junior lawyers, the forthcoming JLP.

Khelvin believes such a programme will help junior lawyers explore areas of the law that they may not ordinarily have exposure to.

He also welcomes the fact that it will help junior lawyers deal with Generative AI in the workplace. “You may use a tool to help generate an agreement and the machine would have added a clause into your agreement. But you haven’t really thought about why this clause is being included and whether it should be part of your SOP going forward. So we will—as a profession and not just the juniors—have to think hard about why certain things are generated and whether they should be retained, instead of just taking what is given and running with it.”


With his move to Covenant Chambers, Khelvin doesn’t just start at a new place. For the first time, he’s also a part of a chambers set-up—a decision motivated in part by wanting to see if he could thrive in such an outfit.


“I relished the idea of seeing whether I could create something that I could really call my own, and outside of the safety and security of a big firm. There is a certain excitement that comes with joining a project that is in an earlier season, and of having more influence over how the practice grows and building a team, not just in terms of who’s in it, but also culture.”

“Call it pride, call it even arrogance. But I genuinely believe that the Singaporean advocate can more than hold their own in the international arena and I’m excited for opportunities to demonstrate this.” 

What won’t change is the type of work that he’ll be doing: the same complex, cross-border commercial work that he excels in. Through his move, he also hopes to continue showing the strength of mid-career lawyers in this field, and particularly those in his firm. “We may not be quite household names. But I’d like to think that we are really good at what we do; able to punch above our weight. And of course, we offer solid bang for buck,” he adds with a laugh.

“So it’s a bit of an ask, and maybe a little ambitious – to try and grow a team with a healthy culture, that is nimble, able to keep abreast of the latest developments, and is given the opportunity to have hands-on experience, while also having the technical skills and grit to take on the most interesting issues and the best opponents in the international commercial arena,” he concludes. “But – ambitious or not – it’ll be a great adventure, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!”

Connect with Khelvin on LinkedIn.

Find out more about SAL’s Junior Lawyers Professional Certificate Programme here: get weekly tips on excelling as a junior lawyer and hear it first when registrations open. The programme, with its focus on scenario-based learning, embodies the hands-on approach to lawyering that Khelvin champions.  You can also register your interest to contribute to the programme.