Francis Xavier SC: Leading From the Heart
Updated: Mar 30
Francis Xavier SC is a Malaysian-born advocate practising with Rajah & Tann in Singapore. Hailing from a close-knit community in Seremban, Xavier moved to Singapore to pursue his A-levels on an ASEAN scholarship. From there, he went on to study law at the National University of Singapore before joining Allen & Gledhill.
As a young lawyer, Xavier dove straight into the deep end. Soon after being called to the bar, he began taking on heavy criminal matters such as rape, murder and capital cases. With minimal guidance, he conducted these trials alone and built himself a reputation in the criminal arena all while maintaining a civil practice. After a decade with Allen & Gledhill, Xavier moved to Rajah & Tann who were expanding into the Southeast Asian region as this aligned with his dream of practising beyond the boundaries of Singapore.
In terms of his work, Xavier is selective in the briefs which he accepts. He will only take on a matter if he believes that there is something worth fighting for. He says that he is unable to walk into court and make an argument that he does not believe in. Xavier has practised this way his entire legal career and attributes this unusual practice to his upbringing to fight for what is right.
Over the years, Xavier has developed a unique trial preparation method. When he begins reading a statement of claim, he has four separate sheets of paper to pen down his thoughts. The first sheet contains his notes for closing submissions and the second is a to-do list of matters to follow up on such as further factual inquiries or legal issues. The other two sheets are for aggressive cross, which contain the points he needs to cross-examine the opponent’s witnesses on and for defensive cross, points Xavier needs to prepare his own witnesses for. According to Xavier, this method is so effective that it once allowed him to take on a case on a Friday night and be in court cross-examining two days later on the Monday.
Throughout his interview, Xavier comes across as a passionate individual determined to live life to the fullest. This passion is evident in the way he conducts his practice and in the way he leads his life outside of it, from mountain climbing to race car driving and playing with his band. Above all, Xavier attributes his passion for life to always leading from the heart.
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