9 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM BRI EFS Q&A ‘TO ADAPT TO THESE CHANGES, LAWYERS MUST REINVENT THEMSELVES’ Lisa Sam, who founded and runs her own law firm in Singapore, was recently elected as the first female president of the Law Society of Singapore in two decades. Sam shares with ALB her plans for prompting the organisation and enhancing the profession as well as how to nurture the best talent to serve Singapore’s legal industry. ALB: Tell us a bit about your vision for the Law Society of Singapore. Lisa Sam: My recent Opening of the Legal Year message emphasises reinvention. We will build upon the strong foundation of trust, cultural awareness, and clientcentric values inherent to the Singapore lawyer. We will strengthen the Singapore Lawyer brand by enhancing our alternative dispute resolution initiatives, upskilling, and reskilling in emerging practice areas, and ensuring robust succession planning covering younger to senior lawyers. I aim to cultivate a dynamic legal profession, proudly showcasing the Singapore lawyer brand globally. This has to be a collective effort of the Bar. ALB: What are some key trends and developments you’ve seen in the Singapore legal market? Sam: The Singapore legal landscape is undergoing significant transformations due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of Generative AI. To adapt to these changes, lawyers must reinvent themselves. One key trend and development in the Singapore legal market is the increasing use of alternative dispute resolution. The Law Society will offer a broader range of opportunities for Singapore lawyers to act as arbitrators, mediators, and neutral evaluators to resolve commercial and community disputes. Another global development is the rise of Generative AI. The Law Society has established an AI Working Group to investigate the potential impact of AI on legal practice in Singapore for the short, medium and long term. I have also recently spoken to lawyers from international bar associations on a few occasions about the challenges posed by AI. This is an important area for all lawyers. We plan to hold a series of dialogues to share developments in AI with other foreign bar associations on their impact on legal practice and how the public can use AI tools safely. ALB: How are you envisioning the Singapore legal market will adapt to rising legal demands from regional economic activities? Sam: In response to the rapidly evolving Singapore legal market, the Law Society is actively addressing emerging practice areas to reshape the legal landscape. Continuous upskilling and reskilling are vital to empowering lawyers in this dynamic, fluid, and evolving environment. Key growth areas include family wealth advisory, focusing on guiding family businesses through generational transitions; environmental, social, and governance (ESG), with our recently-launched Sustainability Apex Programme (together with the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants) to build lawyers’ capability in advising on sustainability matters; digital assets, organising training sessions for lawyers to handle matters involving blockchain and digital assets; legaltech, exploring the impact of generative AI on the legal landscape; and sports law, developing expertise in dispute resolution, sports governance, and athlete protection. ALB: What are some of the issues facing lawyers in Singapore right now? Sam: An ongoing concern within Singapore’s legal community is the theme of succession planning, and I would like to delve into this issue by considering the perspectives of both the young and the seasoned members. For our younger lawyers, juggling financial responsibilities, achieving work-life balance, and honing practical skills are top priorities. Acknowledging these challenges, the Law Society has introduced a new mentorship scheme, and facilitated confidential dialogues on ethics, practice areas, mental wellbeing, and career growth. We will also leverage technology to provide networking opportunities through webinars and conferences with global bar associations. Beyond supporting our newer members, our senior colleagues hold a wealth of experience and invaluable guidance. In the new multi-generational workplace, it is necessary to maintain a strong and sustainable connection between the senior lawyers and our younger lawyers. To this end, we will introduce a Directory to connect aspiring lawyers with established mentors, fostering law firm creation and facilitating reverse mentoring. We will also focus on programs to help senior lawyers navigate the changing practice environment, ensuring that they will continue to make valuable contributions in the evolving legal landscape. Additionally, we will explore models of successful ageing by seeking insights from seasoned lawyers who are keen to share their experiences with the wider legal community. I firmly believe that offering comprehensive support to both our young and senior members will enhance their ability to navigate the evolving legal landscape collaboratively and adroitly to uphold the legal profession’s core values of professionalism, integrity, and justice. LISA SAM