Prestige 40 Under 40: Delphine Tan, CEO of The Law Society of Singapore
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Delphine Tan

39, CEO OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SINGAPORE

As a mother of three children aged six to 14, Delphine Tan fully appreciates the availability of flexible work. She was a stay‐at‐home mum for 13 months when her youngest was born, before she joined the Law Society of Singapore in 2014 as Director of the Representation and Law Reform department on a flexi-work basis. In 2016, she was appointed CEO, a full‐time role.

“Although I received a lot of encouragement when I became CEO, it was still difficult as a working mum to have confidence,” she shares. “There’s always the worry that if things go wrong with your children, it was because you were the selfish mother who was too concerned about her career.

“Women are told they can have it all – actually, you can’t. You cannot expect to have exactly the same benefits and remuneration as somebody who has sacrificed flexibility to be in the office full-time.”

Tan is now part of the team that set up the Women In Practice Committee at the Law Society early this year, which provides mentoring support for female lawyers and looks into issues such as gender‐based harassment or discrimination in the legal profession.

She is also pushing for increased technological adoption in the industry to alleviate administrative costs and workload, through joint initiatives with the government such as the Tech-celerate For Law funding programme. The Law Society also launched the SmartLaw Guild, an association that helps lawyers and firms stay abreast of technological advancements applicable for their practice. “It can be a struggle to bring about tech adoption in the law industry because of liability concerns and integration with existing software. Both lawyers and clients have to be educated.”