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History



Rodyk & Davidson LLP is Singapore’s oldest law practice. It traces its beginnings to the partnership of Woods & Davidson, founded by Robert Carr Woods and James Guthrie Davidson in 1861.

Arriving in Singapore in 1845, Robert Carr Woods was the co-founder and first editor of The Straits Times. He served as Attorney-General in 1870 and was appointed to the Bench as a Senior Puisne Judge in 1875. James Guthrie Davidson, described as "one of the ablest men who have ever practised at the Singapore Bar", served in the Government Service as Resident of Selangor and later of Perak.

After the death of Woods, Bernard Rodyk joined Davidson in 1877. The firm was re-named Rodyk & Davidson.

The practice, which has been a part of Singapore’s legal landscape for more than 150 years, attributes its enduring success to the loyalty of partners, staff and clients. Several of the practice’s senior partners were not only titans of the legal profession but also important players in Singapore’s history and development. These include Charles Valentine Miles who was a prolific draftsman responsible for the drafting of almost every ordinance prior to the First World War. Another senior partner, Charles Burton Buckley, was the author of the standard reference work for Singapore’s early history, An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore, 1819 - 1867. When Rodyk and Davidson were made solicitors of the Sultans of Johore, Buckley became the confidential adviser to Sultan Abu Bakar. Another partner of the firm was A. P. Rajah who, in a long and distinguished career, served as Speaker of Parliament, Ambassador and High Court Judge.

In 2002, Rodyk & Davidson marked the new millennium with its successful merger, the largest of its kind, with the firm of HelenYeo & Partners. The merger heralded a new chapter for the practice, which has a regional office in Shanghai and is among Singapore’s largest firms today.