Can a non-lawyer employee be a director, partner or shareholder in, or share in the profits of, a law practice?
A law practice that intends for a non-lawyer employee to be a director, partner or shareholder in, or share in the profits of, the law practice will first need to submit an application via LSRA e-Services for approval to register the non-lawyer employee as a regulated non-practitioner ("RNP") under section 36G of the Legal Profession Act ("LPA").
If the law practice intends for the individual to be a shareholder in or to share in the profits of the law practice, it should, concurrently submit an application in LSRA e-Services for approval for the individual to hold interests in the law practice. This is not required if the individual will be a director or partner of the law practice, but will not be a shareholder, have voting rights in the law practice or share in its profits.
Such non-lawyer participation in a law practice is subject to limits prescribed in the relevant legislation. The suitability of each individual is subject to fulfilment of certain requirements and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Please refer to section 36G of the Legal Profession Act and the Legal Profession (Regulated Individuals) Rules 2015 (in particular Part 4) for more information. Singapore law practices should also note the threshold requirements in the Legal Profession (Law Practice Entities) Rules 2015.
Individuals with relevant expertise and experience, who can bring added value to a law practice in terms of transforming, advancing or contributing to its practice, or who are long-term employees of the law practice with a proven track record in the law practice, may be considered. The relevant areas of expertise of individuals who have been successfully registered to date include patents, competition and anti-trust, regulatory and compliance. The individual’s proposed appointment in the law practice should be their sole employment.
Please note that RNPs are subject to the same disciplinary framework as lawyers in Singapore, including the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules 2015, under the LPA.