The legal profession in Singapore is on a major ‘down’, with one third fewer lawyers now being called to the Bar. What’s happening?

Law is losing its attractiveness as a career proposition, if the latest numbers joining the profession in Singapore is any indication. The number of lawyers who renewed their practising certificates for the current year starting May 2004 has fallen to 3,198, from 3,522 last year.

Even more telling is the number of new lawyers who are being called to the Bar.

According to the Law Society, there were 149 new lawyers at last month’s Mass Call to the Bar. This is a whopping 33 per cent decline from the previous year’s total of 223 who wanted to practise.

A Law Society spokesman says that, typically, only about 60 per cent of those called to Bar will actually practise.

According to lawyers, the latest figures further illustrate a downtrend which has been gathering pace in the last four or five years.

They say many lawyers have been leaving the profession for greener pastures in corporate work, consultancy or simply to go into other businesses or ventures.

‘It is getting very competitive especially if you don’t have a big-name practice with established clients on retainer,’ says a lawyer who runs his own practice.

Industry insiders say that many lawyers have given up their practising certificates in recent years to do freelance consultancy work as tax consultants, immigration consultants and even investor relations consultants. Some have gone abroad to start business ventures.

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