Look beyond schools and rankings, urges UK Singapore law students' society

SINGAPORE - Law firms should look beyond a graduate's school when hiring, the UK Singapore Law Students' Society (UKSLSS) said on Thursday in response to news that degrees from eight British law schools will no longer be recognised in Singapore.

On the recommendation of the Singapore Institute of Legal Education, the Ministry of Law on Tuesday revised the list of overseas universities recognised for admission to the Singapore Bar. Eight British schools were dropped.

The eight universities are:

  • University of Exeter
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Leicester
  • University of Liverpool
  • School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Southampton

These eight universities accounted for 30 per cent of the 729 Singaporean graduates from British law schools in the last three years.

Addressing concerns that firms will discount the degrees earned at the affected institutions, the president of UKSLSS Kok Weng Keong said that each of the delisted schools have produced successful lawyers.

"It is my sincere hope that the recent delisting does not have the impact of reinforcing 'second-tier' perceptions when assessing candidates," Mr Kok, a law student at King's College London said in a statement to The Straits Times.

"Neatly framed law degrees from the most highly regarded law schools" do not determine a lawyer's quality, he said.

"While the recent delisting might have been partially based on UK broadsheet rankings, the rankings in the past five years have also been notoriously prone to fluctuation," he added.

He also said he was "saddened" that fewer Singapore lawyers will benefit from the "rich traditions" of a British education as a result of the delisting.

Some lawyers here have welcomed the move to shorten the list of universities recognised.

Law Society president Thio Shen Yi said earlier that a regular review is "important to ensure that we continue to get top-quality entrants to the Singapore Bar".

"In any review process, one can expect some universities to be added or removed. In an environment where there are far more law graduates than training contracts on offer, it is not surprising that this review contracted the existing list," he said.

chuimin@sph.com.sg