Singapore is fascinating, multi-cultural and beautiful, ripe for exploration. Sharing many of Hong Kong’s benefits, including its reputation as a ‘gateway to Asia’, it inhabits a tropical location with excellent links to mainland Asia.
English is widely used in Singapore, and remains the first language in business, so native English speakers emigrating to Singapore have an immediate advantage.
Living in Singapore can provide an exceptional quality of life. Despite its high population density (alongside Hong Kong in having one of the highest in the world), approximately half of Singapore is given over to green spaces. There are plenty of parks and gardens to be found regardless of where you live and work.
Equally, there are plenty of ways to spend your free time. From stunning art, temples, and architecture to excellent clubs, nightlife, and shopping; there are plenty of options, however you like to relax. If you consider yourself a bit of a foodie, you will be delighted with Singapore – not only does it boast the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred eatery, but the city is full of great food available at very reasonable prices.
Singapore is a social place to work, and the proximity of Boat Quay (a popular place for bars and restaurants) to the Central Business District only improves socialising time. Solicitors moving to Singapore for work should be reassured that this culture will help with the settling in process.
The Legal Market
Despite, or perhaps, because of, the suitability of Singapore as a city to live and work, competition for legal roles is fierce. Although Singapore’s tightly-regulated market is now purposefully opening to the wider world, it remains tough for international law firms to gain the licencing required to open in Singapore. This leads to an increased amount of alliances, and less new places for international lawyers.
The advantages for those who do secure a role though, are numerous. Solicitors with an England and Wales qualification will adjust quickly to Singapore’s common law-based legal system. Similarly, Singapore’s Magic Circle rates are close to the UK equivalent, only with lower taxes to pay. Alongside the quality of life factors, a secondment or permanent move to this island could significantly enhance your lifestyle!
In terms of practice areas, shipping, arbitration, and private wealth are in high demand. Singapore’s historical importance as a port leaves shipping as a key practice area even today. The Singapore International Arbitration Centre is world-leading and makes arbitration lawyers particularly sought after. Finally, Singapore’s high concentration of millionaires (one in six households – even higher than Monaco) guarantees the importance of wealth management work. Singapore didn’t earn the nickname ‘the Switzerland of Asia’ for nothing!
More generally, corporate work is strong and becoming increasingly sophisticated, and both banking and finance and capital markets work are well represented.
As Hong Kong increasingly services the legal needs of mainland China, Singapore offers an alternative for other south-east Asian clients, and is becoming a serious competitor for the title of ‘gateway to Asia’ for the legal market.
To discuss your options for work in Singapore, or more generally, contact Simon Chadwick for a chat. He can be reached on: +44 7985 198 578/+44 845 241 2127 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org.