Singapore-based GCs are seeing the fruits of their labor more than they did five years ago, according to a new report.
In their first joint Singapore General Counsel Report, global law firm CMS and the Singapore Corporate Counsel Association revealed that 18 percent of general counsel respondents in Singapore said they think their current work is having the greatest strategic value to their business.
This group said their influence among senior leaders is “very strong,” while another 60 percent of GCs said it is “strong.”
This is up from five years ago, when only 34 percent of GCs in Singapore felt their influence was “strong,” and only 5 percent believed their impact was “very strong.”
Moving forward, about 52 percent expect to be doing work of the highest level of strategic influence in the next five years.
“General counsel in Singapore have much in common with their counterparts elsewhere,” said the report, which was released on Wednesday. “Many of the findings mirror very closely what we’ve heard from GCs in Europe. That’s not surprising in a business world that continues to embrace globalization.”
Some 60 percent of GCs felt that their influence within the boardroom was “strong,” and another 18 percent said it was “very strong.”
While this growing impact is promising for general counsel in Singapore, most GCs are looking to be even more involved in company strategy. In fact, nearly 20 percent of GCs surveyed said they intend to become a chief executive officer or chief operating officer someday.
According to the report, only about two-thirds of GCs plan to spend their whole career in the general counsel role.
The report also asked some of Singapore’s in-house lawyers about goals and challenges on the job.
Among them was Rose Kong, head of legal at RGE. She said, “Measuring lawyers’ contribution is still an issue with management. They struggle to grade us. Much of our work is subjective, but for them contribution is basically dollars. Some would like it if we did time sheets to benchmark our worth—and yet they like alternative fee arrangements with external lawyers. There’s a disconnect there. It’s hard to solve.”
Despite challenges ahead, “as a class, GCs are much more numerous, more influential and better respected than ever,” said Jonathan Warne, CMS’ head of litigation and arbitration and lead partner on the firm’s GC program. “The report clearly reflects the ambition and opportunities for GCs operating across the Asia-Pacific region.”