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  • Writer's pictureArjun Gananathan

Influences and Mentors

Lawyers, judges, and clients across Singapore know of Davinder Singh SC for his fierce advocacy, thorough counsel, and generous mentorship. A veteran lawyer with almost forty years of experience at the Singapore Bar, Singh has litigated a myriad of intricate, high-profile cases ranging numerous legal areas. His accolades are countless: “Star Individual” in Dispute Resolution by Chambers & Partners for ten years running, “Hall of Fame” member of The Legal 500 Asia Pacific and Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific, 2020 Litigation “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers. The list goes on.

Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, who was in the pioneer batch of senior counsel appointed in 1997, is widely considered as Singapore's top litigator.

But for all of his success as an advocate and leader, it is evident from our conversation that Davinder Singh has always been an equally diligent student and observer of those around him. Indeed, behind his individual accomplishment and legacy are two vital influences.

The first of these influences was Joseph Grimberg SC – prominent Singaporean litigator and legend of Drew & Napier, one of the nation’s oldest law firms. Singh had attended the National University of Singapore on a DBS Bank scholarship, thereby binding him to employment at the bank after graduation. Having developed a strong interest in advocacy, however, Singh found a job at Drew & Napier, and was assigned to Grimberg as a pupil. His influence was immediate. Singh would watch Grimberg prepare tirelessly before trials, advise clients beyond the law, and approach every professional task with an unshakeable moral fiber. “Some people have a quality to inspire others to go beyond their normal self,” Singh explains.

Sometime during his early years at the firm, Singh recalls being asked by Grimberg about his aspirations. Without hesitation, Singh answered – “I want to be Lee Kuan Yew’s lawyer.” As the founding Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee is viewed by many as a messiah for having transformed the nation into a globally-respected economy over his 31-year reign. To Singh’s parents, immigrants from Pakistan and Malaysia, Lee was a hero. They had left their respective countries, dissuaded by political corruption and greed, and had found a government that prioritized jobs, healthcare, and education. In 1996, one year before being appointed Senior Counsel, Singh was hired by Lee to litigate a defamation lawsuit. He depicts Lee as an intelligent client, one who could look perceptively into the future and always understand the bigger picture. Singh’s experience was as educational as it was professional, one filled with crucial lessons that he still carries today.

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