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Old 05-26-2009, 05:12 PM   #1
isaac
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Default Lawyer Shortage in Singapore?

With the govt. enticing foreign trained lawyers to come back to Singapore, it seems like there's a shortage of lawyers in Singapore.

However, with NUS and SMU churning out ~400 lawyers/ cohort, I'm scared by the time it's my turn to graduate(2015), there aren't any jobs out there.

Anyone care to comment?
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Old 05-26-2009, 05:37 PM   #2
Resurgency
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From my limited understanding (pardon me if I'm wrong), the main reason for the shortage of lawyers is because of the high attrition/turnover rate due to lawyers leaving for greener pastures overseas, leaving the profession altogether (like my ex-boss) and people who move in house.

With the relaxation of barriers to entry, this shortage should be somewhat eased. However, if you are worried that you might be out of job, I reckon you should not be unduly worried. The competition may be tougher but I think the demand for lawyers will still be there. Furthermore, the quota for new lawyers getting called up to the bar should be controlled by the government since cohort size for the two local universities are in accordance to government directive.There won't be a sudden explosion of competitors, that's for sure.

Anyway I think you can look forward to more competition. I cannot comment on the pay since I am not in the industry but I think it should be slightly lowered if what I learn in JC Econs about demand supply theories are true.
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Old 05-26-2009, 06:39 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Resurgency View Post
From my limited understanding (pardon me if I'm wrong), the main reason for the shortage of lawyers is because of the high attrition/turnover rate due to lawyers leaving for greener pastures overseas, leaving the profession altogether (like my ex-boss) and people who move in house.

With the relaxation of barriers to entry, this shortage should be somewhat eased. However, if you are worried that you might be out of job, I reckon you should not be unduly worried. The competition may be tougher but I think the demand for lawyers will still be there. Furthermore, the quota for new lawyers getting called up to the bar should be controlled by the government since cohort size for the two local universities are in accordance to government directive.There won't be a sudden explosion of competitors, that's for sure.

Anyway I think you can look forward to more competition. I cannot comment on the pay since I am not in the industry but I think it should be slightly lowered if what I learn in JC Econs about demand supply theories are true.
thanks for your reply

the SMU dean did say last week that around 40%(thereabouts) of law grads will not do law..branching out to other fields.

So the demand will still be there. That reassures me somewhat. haha.
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Old 05-28-2009, 08:24 PM   #4
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another few questions:

1.) What's the starting pay for local law firms? assuming magna cum laude or cum laude(2nd upper to 2nd lower)

2.) When can i start my "specialisation"? like if i want to specialise in criminal law or anti-trust

3.) I don't have to be a very outspoken person to be a successful lawyer do I? cuz i sure am not an outspoken person... though i talk alot in class

4.) I've read many John Grisham books and in his books the law school students study their ass off to pass the bar exam, and the universities do not cover anything on the bar exam. It's strictly on their own time. Is it the same case here?

5.) What's the prospects of me being able to work in the US? i absolutely adore that country

Thanks again
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Old 05-28-2009, 09:43 PM   #5
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I'll throw in a few questions of mine

6) Is it possible to delay the taking of e bar exam upon graduation with a law degree? (I'm thinking of taking a second degree after law before admitting to bar)

7) I notice that there are modules on IP laws. Are there legal positions out that there specialise in this?

8) What other legal careers are open to law graduates? Apart from being a lawyer, that is.

Thanks!
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Old 05-28-2009, 11:22 PM   #6
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1.) What's the starting pay for local law firms? assuming magna cum laude or cum laude(2nd upper to 2nd lower)

It's usually 4k thereabouts in the big firms after you've completed your pupillage to become an Associate, but if the law of demand and supply holds, the greater supply in a few years should reduce the pay. Usually, the class of honours has no effect on your pay if you're in private practice, as long as you qualify.

2.) When can i start my "specialisation"? like if i want to specialise in criminal law or anti-trust

By the time you've finished law school, you should already have a very good idea of what you want to specialise in. Then when you go for pupillage in a law firm, you'll be assigned to a pupil master who's a senior lawyer with his own specialisation. You usually have a choice of pupil master but that's not guaranteed, I don't know enough about it though. If you want to switch specialisation I think you can, like when you become an Associate or even beyond. But the earlier the better of course, so that you start accumulating experience in your field earlier.

3.) I don't have to be a very outspoken person to be a successful lawyer do I? cuz i sure am not an outspoken person... though i talk alot in class

Not really. You just have to perform when your job calls for it. Even corporate lawyers cannot escape talking and communicating because they do have clients to take care of and to advise. There are successful litigators who aren't usually loud and outspoken but transform into another creature altogether in the courtroom - I've seen one such lawyer, a Senior Counsel, both in his office and in action, and while he keeps to himself and his friends in the office he's fearsome in the court.

Of course, bear in mind that there would exist a higher proportion of outspoken people in the legal profession than in most professions, but don't worry about not finding people like yourself.

4.) I've read many John Grisham books and in his books the law school students study their ass off to pass the bar exam, and the universities do not cover anything on the bar exam. It's strictly on their own time. Is it the same case here?

If you're graduating locally, there's no bar exam. (Correction: see post below by Resurgency) There'll be a practical law course after you graduate, followed by pupillage in a law firm/legal service, followed by calling to the Bar, simple All within a year

5.) What's the prospects of me being able to work in the US? i absolutely adore that country

It will depend on the jurisdiction you're interested in, but the New York Bar seems to be the standard for people who want to practice in the US. You'll be qualified to practice there once you pass the Bar exam, but whether or not the law firms recognise or value a NUS LL.B is another matter. It helps if you have a few years of legal experience and maybe even a LL.M at a leading US law school under your belt.

6) Is it possible to delay the taking of e bar exam upon graduation with a law degree? (I'm thinking of taking a second degree after law before admitting to bar)

Yes sure, where are you studying law?

7) I notice that there are modules on IP laws. Are there legal positions out that there specialise in this?

I'm not very sure about this. There are lawyers who specialise in IP law, of course, and in-house IP lawyers in various kinds of businesses like software companies.

8) What other legal careers are open to law graduates? Apart from being a lawyer, that is.

I've heard of NUS Law grads who work for MFA, go into corporate world, management... in general I've also heard of top lawyers who even go into investment banking or management consulting, but these are usually mid-career switches.

Last edited by LockT31W; 06-01-2009 at 03:50 PM.
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:07 PM   #7
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To help add on to some of lockt31w's points,


4.) I've read many John Grisham books and in his books the law school students study their ass off to pass the bar exam, and the universities do not cover anything on the bar exam. It's strictly on their own time. Is it the same case here?

There is in fact, a Local Bar Examination in Singapore. This would come after your five-month Practical Law Course (PLC). Local graduates will need to pass Part B of the bar examination to be eligible for the Singapore Bar. More details can be found here. http://www.straitstimes.com/STI/STIM...13/changes.pdf. I guess your pupillage (now called Training Contracts) will come after your PLC and Bar Examination.

7) I notice that there are modules on IP laws. Are there legal positions out that there specialise in this?


The big 4 law firms in Singapore (A&G, D&N, Wong Partnership and R&T) all have departments specialising in IP Law. I heard that R&T has the best IP department in Singapore, although I do not have any evidence to back this up.

Last edited by Resurgency; 06-01-2009 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 06-01-2009, 03:46 PM   #8
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Hey thanks for adding on the part about the new Part B examination, I mistakenly omitted that. Also, other than big 4 there are boutique IP law firms in Singapore too.
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Old 10-08-2009, 03:25 AM   #9
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If this is really so, besides the stringent schedule and amount of stress being a lawyer, they should try to relax the pre requisites.

There are people who are genuinely interested and have the passion for Law but they just cannot qualify for the SG Bar exams.

Only one route allowed.

JC - Fantastic A Level results - NUS LAW
Either than that, from diploma in Law might be another alternative but a more difficult one as well.

I'm praying that besides scrapping off the 1 year Diploma after studying overseas... They will allow those who pursued their LLB external programme to qualify as well...

But guess it might take a decade or even a century
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Old 10-23-2009, 09:32 PM   #10
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if you are interested in working in the states, smu law would be a good choice. they would be announcing a memorandum on monday (26th) regarding internships and exchange programmes with the new york state bar association. first asean school to do so.

so, keep your ears peeled.
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