Luck plays a part in income


“The market operates to reward disproportionately people who have been lucky,” says Philip Jeyaretnam, Senior Counsel and President of the Law Society of Singapore, in the current issue of Law Gazette.

The article reveals certain information about the salaries in the legal profession, which I will quote and summarise here.

(Incidentally, the article also drew a sharp retort from another famed Senior Counsel K. Shanmugam, but we shall not talk about it here.)

According to the article, “lawyers’ earnings typically peak in their forties and early fifties and can then fall away quite sharply, and in any case fluctuate greatly from year to year.”

There’s always a huge gap in salaries between the top lawyers and the second best, just as in other professions.

The article also highlights that the top engineers earn much less than the top lawyers (which is also mentioned in my previous post on ministerial salary benchmark).

“The public is told that top lawyers earn astronomical amounts. And that top engineers earn much, much less… For sure, the law faculties at NUS and SMU will be even more over-subscribed … the engineering faculties will see a sharp drop off of applicants. It is unfortunate that the public may be getting a rather skewed idea of the two professions – there is much less of a gap once one looks below the rung of top earners.

The article goes on to suggest that IRAS publish income figures at different stages (and levels?) of the benchmarked professions, “including how they fluctuate, plateau and taper off.”


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