Singapore’s former deputy prime minister joins Drew & Napier

Singapore’s former deputy prime minister Shunmugam Jayakumar has retired from his long-standing political career and will take a consultancy role at Singaporean firm Drew & Napier.

Jayakumar will join Drew & Napier, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s former joint venture partner in Singapore, on 1 May to spearhead its practices in international law, international trade and constitutional law. He will work with the firm’s clients and spend time mentoring the firm’s lawyers.

Jayakumar served as Singapore’s deputy prime minister from 2004 to 2009, when he was appointed senior minister, a role he held from 2009 to 2011. He also served as the minister of law from 1988 to 2008, which made him one of Asia’s longest-serving law ministers. During his time as law minister, he oversaw and pushed the liberalisation of Singapore’s legal market, including the introduction of the Qualifying Foreign Law Practices (QFLP) regime (5 December 2008).

He was admitted to the bar in 1964 and later furthered his education at Yale Law School, where he received a master of laws degree in 1966. Upon his return to Singapore, Jayakumar took on a lecturing position in the Faculty of Law at the National University of Singapore from 1964 to 1981, assuming the position of dean of the faculty in 1974.

“Prof Jayakumar will bring unrivalled experience and insight in the fields of international and constitutional law, as well as in other areas. He’s someone who’s universally acknowledged as one of the best legal brains of his generation,” said Drew & Napier’s CEO Davinder Singh in a statement.

In 2007, Jayakumar was a key member of the Singapore legal team in the Pedra Branca dispute before the International Court of Justice, which decided that sovereignty over island belongs to Singapore.

Drew & Napier is one of Singapore’s largest firms. It has 195 lawyers, including 50 equity partners. The firm is particularly well known for its litigation capability, which is led by five senior counsel – the equivalent of QC in the UK. It was the joint venture partner of Freshfields in Singapore from 2000 to 2006. The joint venture ended when Freshfields closed its first Singapore office (25 September 2006).