I have many fond memories of my short attachment stint there, where I was still in law school, and being exposed to litigation for the first time. Was lucky to drop in just before a trial started, helped to research several points of law, and then had a chance to see senior counsel in action.
But back to the points raised in the article, and to highlight two sections:
One way he believes TSMP can attain this goal is by hiring the best practitioners. ‘We pay the highest starting salary in Singapore now – $5,000,’ he says. ‘Law graduates these days have so many options that we find that this is one of the ways to attract and retain the best.’
‘We also reward our lawyers well, promoting the exceptional ones quickly. We made four people junior equity partners recently – and some of them have only five years’ working experience. This helps our people to think like leaders early on, and it helps us in our succession planning – in grooming people to take over.
This may be a sticking point for certain law firms, and may or may not be confined to the larger firms. Should a firm promote an exceptional lawyer quickly, thereby rewarding that lawyer for his performance and also setting an example by which other lawyers can aim for? Or should a firm be rigid in their promotion schedule, where you must attain a minimum number of years before you can be promoted from associate to senior associate level, or from senior associate to junior partner level?
The drawbacks of adopting the former is that it may draw jealousy from the other lawyers, it may breed whispers in the corridor as to why a certain lawyer is allowed to leapfrog ahead while more senior lawyers have not been promoted yet. The drawbacks of the latter is not there is no reward for excelling, where promotion seems almost automatic unless you mess up some where.
I am not advocating that there should be wanton promotion of junior lawyers, that if you can’t make partner in less than 5 years, you were just not a good enough lawyer. There are so many aspects to being succesful in the practice of law, not just in terms of your knowledge of the law, but also the important aspect of how to bring in and maintain your clients. Such skills can only be honed with time. So there is no frantic rush to partnership or promotion, but it will still be encouraging to see the relaxation of rigid promotion policies.