International Spotlight On: Singapore

Considering a move to an international law firm or in-house legal team in Singapore? If you are wondering how to make a legal career move to Singapore, Thomson Legal can help you every step of the way.

Spotlight On: International Law Firms in Singapore

Private Practice

Throughout 2018, the private practice legal market in Singapore has showed a positive and gradual increase in activity, following a slow start to year. There is an optimism within the industry in Singapore that the level of work will continue to grow in the coming years.

Areas of growth in recruitment levels include:

  • TMT
  • Regulatory
  • Projects
  • Corporate
  • Commercial

Contrastingly, Dispute Resolution has had a relatively quiet year in terms of recruitment when compared to previous years. The trend for international law firms in Singapore expanding their law capabilities, often through Joint Venture firms or Formal Law Associations, has meant an increased number of roles. Opportunities are still readily available for good quality lawyers from the UK and Ireland.

What level of PQE are law firms hiring at?

As in previous years, the biggest demand across all practices has been for mid-level lawyers with between 4-8 years’ experience (including the training contract in the case of UK or Ireland admitted lawyers).

Partner Recruitment in Singapore

Partner hiring has continued to remain busy, though there is perhaps slightly more caution than in the past, with more due diligence done on purported books of business. However, options are available to Partners with a decent business case or unique strategic selling point.


2018 was a relatively busy year across various sectors in Singapore including:

  • FinTech
  • InsureTech
  • Real Estate
  • Data Analytics
  • Healthcare.

While the market in Singapore has seen a weakened Marine and Offshore Engineering sector, there has been some promising activity for new entrants in areas such as:

  • Real Estate
  • Insurance
  • Telecommunications

The in-house market has remained relatively buoyant in Singapore with recruitment continuing to take place with a continued emphasis at the mid-level.

Demand for Language Abilities

An interesting trend to note, is that some companies house more lawyers with Mandarin, Japanese or Korean language abilities in Singapore ensuring that they are able to cover markets across North Asia. Those with relevant bilingual fluency can enjoy a choice of a number of opportunities.

Remuneration in Singapore

Junior Level

Within Singapore, it is also evident that lawyers at junior level are leaving private practice much earlier and instead securing positions with startup companies, MNCs and local companies. As a result, there has been an increase in the level of competition between junior and mid-level lawyers making their first foray into an in-house career. Companies are conscious of the compensation challenges and are able to secure good talent at a lower band.

The Future

Looking ahead, in house salaries in the coming years are expected to remain very similar to this year, with hiring activity levels expected to remain relatively steady. The local workforce is also protected by the Singapore government and there has been an addition of tougher hiring guidelines imposed on companies seeking to hire outside of Asia. Candidates who are looking to make a move to Singapore from a different jurisdiction will certainly have more luck and opportunity if they have specialised in an area of focus, distinguishing themselves from the local talent pool.

Information on the Singapore market has provided by our Partners at JLegal, Singapore.

Law Firm Recruitment in Singapore

Please continue to follow our Spotlight On series to find out more about international law markets and your opportunities for making a move Overseas.

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Thomson Legal

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