A NEW programme aims to give law graduates a fresh perspective on a career option they might not have considered.
Although working in the legal department of a corporation may not be the traditional path for law graduates, it is a viable career choice, said National University of Singapore (NUS) law dean Simon Chesterman yesterday.
The legal sector needs lawyers who are able to understand legal issues from a business and global perspective, said the dean and a panel of executives.
They were speaking at a media briefing on the Citi Legal Internship Programme, a collaboration between Citi, NUS and law firm Rajah & Tann.
The three-month programme targets third- and fourth-year NUS undergraduate law students, who will be attached to a senior counsel at Citi. They will gain exposure to bank-related legal work in areas such as markets and securities services.
"What we're keen to do is expose students as early as possible to in-house counsel and show it is very much a way to use your law degree," said Mr Chesterman. He added that while competition for jobs in the legal sector has intensified, the sector offers more diverse career choices.
The chance to work at a corporate early in one's legal career improves understanding of the business environment, said Rajah & Tann managing partner Lee Eng Beng, adding that lawyers often face criticism that they do not understand their clients' business.
If lawyers knew the implications of their advice on a business, they would be able to create "true value", said Mr Andrew Wan, Citi general counsel for markets and securities services, Asia- Pacific.
NUS final-year law student and Citi intern Bernice Gan said the programme has helped her better understand the bank's business and financial needs.
Law firms engaged by Citi must advise on multiple global issues, said Mr Louis Chan, Citi director and deputy general counsel for markets and security services, Asia-Pacific. "Any lawyer who says, 'I am only a Singapore lawyer and I can't do anything apart from Singapore law', will be placed at a disadvantage."
Applications for the next batch of NUS law interns will open at the end of the year. Citi is looking to hire 10 interns for next year.