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  #211 (permalink)  
Old 19-08-2014, 09:06 PM
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Two possibilities: 1) miscalculation/heck care 2) deliberate move to flood market with lawyers, low legal fees good for business. Views?

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  #212 (permalink)  
Old 19-08-2014, 09:50 PM
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Why would there be a glut of lawyers when there was a serious shortage a few years back?

And why would the govt want to open a new law school in SIM to increase the amount of lawyers if they are already announcing an oversupply of lawyers?

Any answers would be appreciated.
I think the Ministry of Law is making a huge mistake IMO. They simply can't absolutely control supply of lawyer through the number of law schools or by opening a new law school. Supply of lawyers are determined by the number of training contracts the private firms decide to give out.

The aim of the third law school is to provide Singapore with more community lawyers. The issue here is where the hell are the community law training contracts? Why can't it be fulfilled by the glut of excess lawyers? Don't this people study family law, criminal law or even medical law?

The answer to that is most small firms don't have any training program in place. Even if you start a law school based on community law, where are these people going after they graduate.

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  #213 (permalink)  
Old 19-08-2014, 11:42 PM
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I think the Ministry of Law is making a huge mistake IMO. They simply can't absolutely control supply of lawyer through the number of law schools or by opening a new law school. Supply of lawyers are determined by the number of training contracts the private firms decide to give out.

The aim of the third law school is to provide Singapore with more community lawyers. The issue here is where the hell are the community law training contracts? Why can't it be fulfilled by the glut of excess lawyers? Don't this people study family law, criminal law or even medical law?

The answer to that is most small firms don't have any training program in place. Even if you start a law school based on community law, where are these people going after they graduate.
Precisely. This creates another problem in that it will bring down the value of family/criminal/community lawyers. There will certainly be discrimination between a NUS & SMU vs SIM law degree.

Do you think they will go ahead & open a law faculty in SIM?

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  #214 (permalink)  
Old 20-08-2014, 12:58 AM
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I think the Ministry of Law is making a huge mistake IMO. They simply can't absolutely control supply of lawyer through the number of law schools or by opening a new law school. Supply of lawyers are determined by the number of training contracts the private firms decide to give out.

The aim of the third law school is to provide Singapore with more community lawyers. The issue here is where the hell are the community law training contracts? Why can't it be fulfilled by the glut of excess lawyers? Don't this people study family law, criminal law or even medical law?

The answer to that is most small firms don't have any training program in place. Even if you start a law school based on community law, where are these people going after they graduate.


The 3rd law school's aim is noble, but c'mon lets be honest here - it is not going to work. Unless you can restrict its grads to practicing only in community areas of law, but that is not possible for all kinds of practical and politically-incorrect reasons. Ultimately, it will still be used by mid-career switchers as a means of getting into practice in the more lucrative, commercial areas of law. so, meh...

You're correct that in most small firms, ie the ones most likely to practice community-centric law like family, criminal and conveyancing, don't have formal training programmes. Most are solo practitioners or 1 - 2 man firms with haphazard hiring, if they hire at all. In 5 years, they probably take in like 1 or 2 trainees? For obvious reasons, they also lack the resources to conduct structured trainee programmes. Of course, this is not to disparage community lawyers. A trainee under a competent & experienced lawyer could learn far more than a trainee in one of the big firms where he/she is just a cog in the wheel. But obviously, the quality will vary widely throughout.

Ultimately I think the new SIM law school is symptomatic of our government's approach to solving problems. Building new, shiny things. Tourism hub? New casinos! Shortage of doctors? New medical school! Shortage of lawyers? New law school! Only time will tell whether it really works.
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  #215 (permalink)  
Old 20-08-2014, 02:09 AM
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The 3rd law school's aim is noble, but c'mon lets be honest here - it is not going to work. Unless you can restrict its grads to practicing only in community areas of law, but that is not possible for all kinds of practical and politically-incorrect reasons. Ultimately, it will still be used by mid-career switchers as a means of getting into practice in the more lucrative, commercial areas of law. so, meh...

You're correct that in most small firms, ie the ones most likely to practice community-centric law like family, criminal and conveyancing, don't have formal training programmes. Most are solo practitioners or 1 - 2 man firms with haphazard hiring, if they hire at all. In 5 years, they probably take in like 1 or 2 trainees? For obvious reasons, they also lack the resources to conduct structured trainee programmes. Of course, this is not to disparage community lawyers. A trainee under a competent & experienced lawyer could learn far more than a trainee in one of the big firms where he/she is just a cog in the wheel. But obviously, the quality will vary widely throughout.

Ultimately I think the new SIM law school is symptomatic of our government's approach to solving problems. Building new, shiny things. Tourism hub? New casinos! Shortage of doctors? New medical school! Shortage of lawyers? New law school! Only time will tell whether it really works.
What do you think of the quality of the degree that will be offered by SIM should the law school be set up. Also, will this lower the value of services provided by criminal lawyers?
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  #216 (permalink)  
Old 20-08-2014, 02:33 PM
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What do you think of the quality of the degree that will be offered by SIM should the law school be set up. Also, will this lower the value of services provided by criminal lawyers?
I can't speak to the quality of the degree, and I don't think anybody can either since the school hasn't been built at this point.

But, it wouldn't really matter even if the SIM law school's quality is sub par compared to the other 2. We're talking about undergraduate teaching quality here, as opposed to post-graduate research quality. I think several comments can be made.

First, it really isn't that hard to graduate a bunch of basic, competent law graduates. How many different or better ways can you teach the basic, foundational subject like contract law and torts? You just need average law professors or teachers. Competency in professional practice is gained by experience. Law school doesn't prepare anybody to be lawyers. It only teaches legal concepts. Everything after that depends on aptitude and environment. If the Ministry of Law were really that concerned about degree quality, a lot of the overseas scheduled universities shouldn't be on the list, tbh.

Second, with all the media hype about this new school, I don't think there'll be a shortage of good academics or practitioners being willing to teach in the school. So I don't think quality of education will be an issue.

Third, a good legal, or any education, for that matter, depends very much also on the quality of your peer students. This is something no amount of lavish teaching resources can overcome. If you are surrounded by bright, motivated classmates, you will have the tendency to push one another harder; the quality of classroom discussion improves; you'll bounce ideas off one another and learn from one another.

That's why the best schools in the world are also the most selective schools. Admission criteria filters out those incapable of handling the material - but let's be honest, law isn't all that difficult that most people are incapable of studying it. The quality of your classmates makes all the difference. The smarter your classmates, the better quality of your education. Hence when we talk about "better" schools, we really mean "better" students studying there. Put another way, if we transplanted the whole class of Harvard into Timbuktu University in a 3rd world country, that university will still be tops because the student body is tops.

I think any deficiency in SIM law is reputational, from the layman. But I don't think Minlaw is concerned about its reputation, otherwise I can't see them choosing to site the school in SIM as opposed to say, NTU, if they were really concerned about prestige.


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  #217 (permalink)  
Old 20-08-2014, 05:50 PM
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I can't speak to the quality of the degree, and I don't think anybody can either since the school hasn't been built at this point.

But, it wouldn't really matter even if the SIM law school's quality is sub par compared to the other 2. We're talking about undergraduate teaching quality here, as opposed to post-graduate research quality. I think several comments can be made.

First, it really isn't that hard to graduate a bunch of basic, competent law graduates. How many different or better ways can you teach the basic, foundational subject like contract law and torts? You just need average law professors or teachers. Competency in professional practice is gained by experience. Law school doesn't prepare anybody to be lawyers. It only teaches legal concepts. Everything after that depends on aptitude and environment. If the Ministry of Law were really that concerned about degree quality, a lot of the overseas scheduled universities shouldn't be on the list, tbh.

Second, with all the media hype about this new school, I don't think there'll be a shortage of good academics or practitioners being willing to teach in the school. So I don't think quality of education will be an issue.

Third, a good legal, or any education, for that matter, depends very much also on the quality of your peer students. This is something no amount of lavish teaching resources can overcome. If you are surrounded by bright, motivated classmates, you will have the tendency to push one another harder; the quality of classroom discussion improves; you'll bounce ideas off one another and learn from one another.

That's why the best schools in the world are also the most selective schools. Admission criteria filters out those incapable of handling the material - but let's be honest, law isn't all that difficult that most people are incapable of studying it. The quality of your classmates makes all the difference. The smarter your classmates, the better quality of your education. Hence when we talk about "better" schools, we really mean "better" students studying there. Put another way, if we transplanted the whole class of Harvard into Timbuktu University in a 3rd world country, that university will still be tops because the student body is tops.

I think any deficiency in SIM law is reputational, from the layman. But I don't think Minlaw is concerned about its reputation, otherwise I can't see them choosing to site the school in SIM as opposed to say, NTU, if they were really concerned about prestige.
What an insightful answer. Do you then think that Minlaw will go ahead & open a law faculty in SIM even after announcing that they are predicting an oversupply of lawyers?
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  #218 (permalink)  
Old 21-08-2014, 12:26 PM
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What an insightful answer. Do you then think that Minlaw will go ahead & open a law faculty in SIM even after announcing that they are predicting an oversupply of lawyers?
There you have your answer: "Law schools here not planning to cut enrolment" (Straits Times, 21 Aug 2014); "DESPITE an expected glut of lawyers in the next few years, the two law schools here will not be cutting enrolment.
Plans to open a third law school at SIM University (UniSIM) will also not be affected, said the Law Ministry (MinLaw) yesterday."

If there is one thing about our public bodies, they absolutely hate to backtrack on their policies. Even if it is staring right at them in the face, or like here, misfiring even before they've begun to implement it.

My best wishes to the law graduates class of 2015, 2016 and 2017 from the local universities. They'll need all the luck they can get.
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  #219 (permalink)  
Old 21-08-2014, 02:23 PM
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There you have your answer: "Law schools here not planning to cut enrolment" (Straits Times, 21 Aug 2014); "DESPITE an expected glut of lawyers in the next few years, the two law schools here will not be cutting enrolment.
Plans to open a third law school at SIM University (UniSIM) will also not be affected, said the Law Ministry (MinLaw) yesterday."

If there is one thing about our public bodies, they absolutely hate to backtrack on their policies. Even if it is staring right at them in the face, or like here, misfiring even before they've begun to implement it.

My best wishes to the law graduates class of 2015, 2016 and 2017 from the local universities. They'll need all the luck they can get.
What about the overseas graduates' prospects?
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  #220 (permalink)  
Old 21-08-2014, 03:13 PM
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What about the overseas graduates' prospects?
Poor, but they're contributing to the glut in the first place.

All things being equal, we would of course wish 100% employment rates for everyone everywhere.

But one can't help feeling sorry for the local law graduates who are unable to obtain training places and feeling the effects of the squeeze. They put in a lot of effort in their degree. Law school in Singapore isn't a walk in the park by any measure.

Not that we should applaud MinLaw since their failure in oversight resulted in this problem in the first place, but Shanmugam is doing everybody a favour by speaking out now and warning everybody that a law degree isn't a path to certainty and career success like it was in the past.
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