Apprenticeships the way forward for legal education

No time is more opportune than now to revisit, rethink and redesign our law schools (CJ calls on law schools to reinvent themselves; Oct 21).

We must ask ourselves if our 50-year-old assumptions on law students are still valid in this disruptive world.

How can we tell through a short interview if an applicant has enough passion to pursue law, and if his discernment and passion will remain ignited through four excruciating years of intensive legal study?

Flipped classrooms, blended education, long-distance learning and massive open online courses are gaining steam rapidly across the world.

Pedagogical advances demand that we reinvent and update our syllabi to remain relevant to the changing times.

One way to revolutionise our legal education is to implement the apprentice-master scheme.

A law undergraduate can apprentice himself to a law firm and pursue part-time study on campus.

Three to four years down the road, he can be awarded a diploma. In seven years, he can get his degree and be called to the bar.

In this way, he can decide if the law profession suits him, and there is assurance that there is a constant supply of talent to the industry.

The advent of smart software or artificial intelligence giving useful and affordable legal advice will revolutionise the profession.

The day will come when instead of going for conflict resolution, clients will opt for conflict avoidance.

Real education happens beyond the confines of the classroom. Our full-time legal students in their ivory tower would do well to study in the university of life instead.

Michael Lum Yan Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2017, with the headline 'Apprenticeships the way forward for legal education'. Print Edition | Subscribe