SCCA Annual Black Tie 2017- Excerpt of Welcome Address by Wong Taur-Jiun, President, SCCA

Nov,22 2017

SCCA Annual Black Tie 2017- Excerpt of Welcome Address by Wong Taur-Jiun, President, SCCA

[SCCA was registered as a non-profit society in June 2002.]

15 years is not very long but what a ride it has been! There are at least 5 of us here, including Justice Chua Lee Ming, who put our names on the application form to register SCCA as a non-profit society in 2002. We have all contributed to the work of the SCCA in one way or another.

You may ask the question - why bother?

Why bother?

In my early years of practicing law in-house, I was working for a company that, at that point in time, was actively investing in agricultural assets in Asia. I was privileged to run the acquisition of a very large plantation in Indonesia. Boy, it was a difficult transaction - before and after. I fought with my business, and I fought with the sellers, over due diligence, over corruption, over the environment, and over issues with transmigration. We even ended up with an arbitration in Holland with the sellers! A couple of years later I visited the plantation. That was Indonesia 20 years ago. After a few hours of bumpy ride from the city, we entered a settlement that had beautiful roads and respectable brick houses, many of which had satellite dishes! There was even a small marketplace where people bought and sold food and small household items. The residents looked clean and well fed. It was clear to me then that that was the result of the company’s investment in the plantation. Lives had changed for the better - and I had a part in making it happen. That was when I found meaning in the work that I did.

So I realised that being an in-house counsel is not only about serving the interests of that singular client, your employer.

Public Interest

It is a distinction people often make between in-house lawyers and private practice lawyers. That the latter serve a public interest and the former do not.

But I disagree. I think the public interest impact of in-house counsel is just as significant. As in-house counsel, you are in a position to help your organization make good decisions. Good decisions that profit the company. Good decisions that ultimately benefit the society at large. 

Think about food and product safety. Think about burning forests and polluting the air. Think about selling financial products that people understand.  

Multiplier effect

So we reckon that if we can help more in-house counsel influence good decisions in their companies, then a lot of societies will benefit. That’s the multiplier effect.Through our Competency Framework, our Code of Conduct and our Community, we will provide you, the in-house counsel, with (1) the capability, (2) the moral authority and (3) the support system to help you help make the world a better place.

This is why we bother with the SCCA.