UniSIM law school gets overwhelming response

The Family Justice courts being built in Havelock Road.
The Family Justice courts being built in Havelock Road.PHOTO: ST FILE

Double the expected number of prospective applicants show up at its open house

Interest in SIM University's much- awaited law school - due to open next year - is so high that it had to hold an extra briefing session on its courses yesterday.

More than 450 showed up for two two-hour briefings detailing the school's law programmes at UniSIM's annual open house - double the expected number.

The UniSIM School of Law, Singapore's third law school, will aim to address a predicted shortage of lawyers in the fields of criminal and family law.

There are a total of 60 places available on its two courses, 48 of which will go to mature students seeking a mid-career switch to law. The other 12 will go to A-level school leavers and polytechnic diploma-holders without work experience.

Paralegal Latifah Hassan, 32, who has been working in family law for 12 years and has a diploma in law and management, said that it would be a "tough fight" for those like her applying for the LL.B course.

"There were a couple of concerns from the crowd today about how many of us will be admitted for the LL.B. course because there were a number of people with diplomas," she said.

She added that they were assured that the final percentage of those admitted to the respective courses will still depend on the profile of applicants.

Professor Leslie Chew, the law school's dean, was "very encouraged by the tremendous interest".

"Not everyone makes a good family or criminal lawyer. We hope to attract a special breed of students who have relevant work experience, strong hearts and helping dispositions," he said.

"From the turnout today, I am particularly encouraged that many come from the type of backgrounds we are hoping to attract."

UniSIM president Cheong Hee Kiat said earlier this month when the school was announced that it hopes to draw mature individuals with experience in related fields, such as social work and law enforcement, who want to make a switch to a second career in law.

Students will be selected not just based on academic ability but also aptitude, attitude and interest in the practice of family and criminal law.

Legal executive Sheryl Keith Nuqui, 26, said that many of the prospective applicants had experience working in criminal and family law.

"There was an overwhelming number of people today but I'm not surprised because many of us had been waiting for such a programme," said Ms Keith Nuqui, who has six years of working experience and holds a diploma in law and management as well as a bachelor's degree in law from the University of London.

"I can meet the criteria for the JD programme, but I'm pretty sure there will be loads of people like me with even more experience."

But she is undeterred by the competition. "The applicants are all people who want to do their part for the community, and we can all learn from one another's experience."

Applications for the law school will open on Tuesday and close on July 31.


Correction note: An earlier version of this story stated that 48 of total 60 places would go to individuals with degrees applying for the Juris Doctor programme. This is incorrect, the places will go to mature students seeking a mid-career switch to law. Also, the other 12 places will go to A-level school leavers and polytechnic diploma-holders without work experience instead of those joining the Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) course. Errors are source errors from UniSIM.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 28, 2016, with the headline 'UniSIM law school gets overwhelming response'. Print Edition | Subscribe