The Rise and Fall and Rise of Heritage Law Firms – Lessons from Rodyk: 150 Years

 

I am in the midst of reading books relating to law firms. I am now re-reading the book Rodyk: 150 Years, published in 2011. An excellent read.

The book documents the 150-year history of the Singapore heritage law firm, Rodyk & Davidson. The firm lost some of its lustre and then entered a historic merger with HelenYeo & Partners, a mere 10-year old law firm. It was a merger of equals and transformed the firm.

In a series of posts, I will feature some of the extracts from the book of Rodyk: 150 years. I weigh in with lessons for law firms, professional practices and for businesses. 

I start with the book’s introduction penned by Chan Sek Keong, who was then the Chief Justice of Singapore. It was also published in the Singapore Business Times.

 

LAW firms with a long historical lineage during the period of colonial rule in Singapore are a rarity. Singapore became a British territory in 1824, and English law was introduced into the colony in 1826 through the Second Charter of Justice. From 1826 to 1963, Singapore was the legal capital of the Straits Settlements in terms of the volume and quality of legal work and disputes. Many law firms were born and died. Many ceased to exist because of the Japanese Occupation in 1942 and were never revived after the British returned. Many others did not survive their founding partners, who did not care to let their names continue as brand names for the sake of their partners. Continue reading