Law practice is essential in today's society. Almost all businesses have legal departments which they hire, or partner with law firms that handle the legal side of the business for them. In this article, we present a guide on how to start your own law firm in Singapore, as well as things you need to consider before getting into the legal industry.
How to Start Your Own Law Firm in Singapore
The legal industry in Singapore plays an essential role in the success of the economy by ensuring the proper operation of other businesses under the right guidelines and requirements. Strong law practices and high quality legal services create a solid foundation and give foreign businesses the security and confidence to invest in the country.
With the recent call for application under the Qualifying Foreign Law Practice licensing program from the Singapore’s Ministry of Law, the legal landscape will be liberalised in the next few years. This means there will be more great opportunities for foreign law firms to set up their branches or offices in Singapore and make use of many benefits from this economic centre.
Starting your own law firm in Singapore opens opportunities for you to dive into the legal profession, whether you plan to open a solo law firm, get into criminal law, or handle transactional law cases.
Overview of the Legal Industry in Singapore
In 2017, the legal industry of Singapore reached more than $2 billion, which made a contribution to around 0.5% of the country’ Gross Domestic Product. There were also more than 1000 firms that employed around 12,900 workers, half of them were lawyers.
In general, there are four main forms of legal practices in Singapore. These include Joint Law Ventures or JLVs, Qualifying Foreign Law Practices or QFLPs, Foreign Law Practices or FLPs, and Singapore Law Practices or SLPs.
- SLP: SLP companies can offer law-related services in all areas of legal practices
- FLP: FLP firms can offer law-related services just in relation to the International Commercial Court or in the limited context of the international commercial arbitration, via several forms of registered lawyers.
- QFLP: This type of law firm can offer law-related services in a few permitted areas of foreign legal practices.
- JLV: This type is quite similar to the QFLP but on a smaller scale.
The most common form in Singapore is SLP, followed by FLP, QFLP, and JLV.
Benefits of Setting a Law Firm in Singapore
When it comes to legal academia, Singapore has long been known for having an impressive and comprehensive legal system. As a former British colony and Commonwealth country, it has many similarities with other common-law legal systems in the world.
It has been significantly exposed to civil law traditions as a result of the extensive interactions with these law systems through European traders and Asian neighbouring countries. The combination of the two major legal systems in the world allows for a good system in Singapore which helps facilitate the development of the economy.
Another benefit of setting up a law firm in this South-East Asian country is that it features a world-class education system, political stability, strong economy, and an extensive network of infrastructure. Thus, it can be a transparent and safe bet for any foreign law firm that wants to start operating and make a lot of profits here.
The number of highly trained and experienced lawyers in Singapore is another important advantage that makes the legal industry so competitive and promising. Indeed, the legal education in Singapore is among the best programs in the world with a variety of prestigious and well-known institutions which recruit world-class talents to enhance the legal capabilities.
How to Set Up a Successful Law Firm in Singapore
Since the legal industry is a complicated and complex area in Singapore, it can be time-consuming and challenging to set up a law firm. The first thing you need to do is to submit the application to the Selection Committee and the Evaluation Committee for official acceptance. Lawyers often start their own law firms under limited liability partnership business models, although sole proprietorship firms do exist.
Setting Up the Business
There are many important factors that the committee will take into account during the assessment. These include the track record of the foreign firm, the amount of handled work offshore, the area of legal services and law that the firm will practice, and the number of employees.
Once you have acquired the approval and a business licence from the committee, you have up to six months to set up the operation and office in Singapore. Some necessary tasks that you need to complete include hiring staff, looking for the premises or office space, marketing the business, getting visas for your legal lawyers and more.
The legal licence will be initially valid for 5 years. After this period, you have to renew the licence from the Evaluation Committee. This process will be quicker than the initial registration and incorporation.
What to Consider as the Business Owner
Your law office should consider getting professional liability insurance to financially protect your lawyers in the event of financial loss resulting from providing legal services. Legal practice management software is also helpful in managing your own firm, particularly as you juggle your own cases as well as those of the law firm.
The mode of payment is another factor that determines the law firm that paying clients tend to go to. Many law firms do not accept debit or credit card payment, which can deter potential clients. As a new law firm, you may want to provide this option to clients, depending on the set up and nature of your business plan.
Managing social media accounts is also helpful in terms of marketing, and it is becoming increasingly acceptable in the law society to market your firm or law school this way. This marketing tactic is especially useful for law firms handling civil claims, family law, and similar cases.
Opening and starting your own law firm is one thing, ensuring its success is another. As with any business - be it a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company, the success of the law firm depends on your skill, entrepreneurship, and business management. Abiding by the regulations set for law firms is one way to get on the right track.
Register Your Own Legal Practice with WealthBridge
Opening and managing your own law firm is a challenge as you deal with legal practice, and at the same time, handle the pressures of being a business owner. The first step you need to do to start your own law firm is to incorporate your company in Singapore, which our team at WealthBridge can assist you with.
Our team is always ready to handle your corporate services, so contact us today to make managing your own business convenient!