Some of the issues faced by Singapore law firms due to the COVID-19 crisis include, receivable collection issues and cancelled mergers and acquisitions deals. Some of the clients may even pull the plug on matters they were planning or disputes they were litigating due to the impact of the pandemic on their finances, as told by Gregory Vijayendran, president of the Law Society of Singapore.
While most law firms in Singapore with diversified practice mix will still see a steady stream of work, others will see a dip in the coming months. As shared by the manging partner of Squire Patton Boggs Singapore, lawyers in the region are bound to see their inflow of work being severely affected, for at least the next two quarters.
A decrease in work coming in is not unexpected as most non-essential businesses are shut. Further, people are putting off non-urgent legal matters as they are unable to meet their lawyers face-to-face to discuss sensitive and confidential issues.
Law firms such as Herbert Smith Freehills, Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy, Hogan Lovells, TSMP Law Corporation and others, have turned to cost management and cash conservation, including, deferring bonuses, cutting of partner profit distributions, and reviewing of salary, amongst others. Alternative working arrangements including operating on reduced hours, unpaid leave or sabbaticals, have also been offered by some law firms to its employees.
However, there has been a surge for demand in practice areas such as restructuring and insolvency, commercial disputes, international arbitration, employment, and private wealth investment.
The legal market will continue to press on amidst these changing in demand shifts.