Speech by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong SC at Duane Morris & Selvam LLP's 12th Anniversary Celebration
22 February 2023 Posted in [Speeches]
Mr Matthew Taylor, Chairman and CEO of Duane Morris
Mr Leon Yee, Chairman of Duane Morris & Selvam
Ladies and Gentlemen
- My great pleasure and honour to be here to share in this evening’s celebration of the 12th anniversary of Duane Morris & Selvam.
- To me, the 12th anniversary is meaningful in a number of ways. The number ‘12’ denotes the end of a cycle, and also the imminent start of the next cycle. For example, you see it in the number of months in a calendar year, the number of hours on a clock face, and for the Chinese, the number of zodiac signs in the Chinese horoscope.
- So, this year, which is the 12th year, marks the completion of the first chapter of Duane Morris & Selvam’s history.
Duane Morris & Selvam Joint Law Venture
- I would like to add to my congratulations to Mrs Arfat Selvam, for being such a sterling example of what it is like to practise in Singapore and to collaborate.
- My Ministry introduced the Joint Law Venture (“JLV”) and Formal Law Alliance (“FLA”) schemes in 2000, to allow for closer collaboration between local and foreign firms.
- As the then-Minister of State for Law Professor Ho Peng Kee explained, when he moved the Bill in Parliament, the focus was on how to supply legal services more conveniently and efficiently, given that we are now a greatly globalised city, dealing with cross-border, cross-jurisdictional transactions. And at the same time, upgrade the legal expertise of Singapore lawyers.
- What we wanted to achieve for JLVs and FLAs was to bring in foreign law and offshore work, which might not otherwise have come into Singapore. In other words, to grow the pie in Singapore, and to be able to provide that seamless experience for clients. For myself who was in practice in the private sector for 25 years, I understand that it is the client’s paramount interest to ensure that the transactions are carried out seamlessly, and today as the clients undertake cross-border transactions – with the multitude of laws, governing systems, governing jurisdictions over a transaction or deed - you want that seamless experience.
- It is also to enhance the ability of our local law firms to grow, to upskill, upscale and level up themselves, to expand, and to internationalise, through this wider network that the foreign law partners can bring with them. In other words, bigger reach. I always say that we want our lawyers to practise law in, from or even through, Singapore.
- I would say that Duane Morris & Selvam has achieved a lot over the years. Before Arfat Selvam entered into a JLV with Duane Morris, it was a 17-lawyer Singapore law practice, advising mainly local clients on Singapore law, like many other firms in Singapore. With the JLV, it has allowed them to scale up, step up and reach higher. They are able to provide a wider range of legal services. As I browsed the website of the firm today, and looked at the CVs of the Singapore lawyers in the JLV, I see that many of them doing high-value, complex, international, cross-border work, with a heavy element of foreign law involved. I would say this was the intention, and remains the intention, of the JLV scheme.
- But perhaps what is most significant to me is that they have also expanded overseas to China and Myanmar together. Together, as Duane Morris & Selvam, and not just as Duane Morris, and not just as Selvam, for that matter. I think they might be the only JLV which has done so in this way – forming the JLV in Singapore, expanding overseas and collaborating overseas. It shows the close integration between the two firms and the trust element between the two firms. We know that each of them brings something different to the table, and collectively, make Duane Morris & Selvam stronger than the sum of its parts. The Singapore law practice and the name ‘Selvam’ are also important when you go into the region. It is a hallmark practice from Singapore, and Singaporean practitioners have certain value systems. So overall, this collaboration is very heartening.
- As I said, 12 years is the end of one particular cycle. This initial opening chapter of Duane Morris & Selvam has indeed been most exciting, fruitful and promising. I certainly look very much forward to the next chapter on the horizon - the next 12 years and beyond.
- I want to wish you this evening - Matt, Leon, Mrs Selvam, your team of lawyers, and of course the clients, they are an important part of the entire ecosystem of Duane Morris & Selvam.
- Congratulations, look forward to the next 12 years. Well done!
- Thank you.
Last updated on 22 February 2023