We live in uncertain times. While this is true of the wider world we live in today—for geopolitical reasons which I will not go into here, it also accurately reflects the legal profession. In his address to freshly-minted lawyers at the Mass Call 2018, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon emphasised the need for lawyers to remain relevant by adapting to changes, brought about primarily by new technologies that prompted the “disaggregation” and “commoditisation” of legal services.
The role of the United Kingdom Law Students’ Society (UKSLSS), throughout the past 20 years, has always been to support and serve the needs of our members through a number of ways—(i) providing updates on the latest legal developments, (ii) furnishing opportunities to adapt to these changes, (iii) bridging the gap with the stakeholders, and (iv) in the process forge valuable friendships. As the challenges we face evolve, we will assiduously look at relevant ways for our members to stay ahead of the curve.
I would first like to thank the previous Executive Committee, led by Adelle, for their hard work throughout the past year. The team, which also consisted of Ashwati, Jie Ying, Carmen, Yi Ching, Chiraag and Jean, raised the profile of UKSLSS and forged excellent relationships with stakeholders both within and outside of the society, allowing my team and I to ride on their coattails this year. The Editorial Committee, headed by Herman and Kelvin, also ensured that the UKSLSS’s flagship publication—the Singapore Comparative Law Review (SCLR), lived up to its billing as a showcase of the immense jurisprudential knowledge of Singapore law students educated in the United Kingdom, for the first time under its new name. On behalf of my team, I wish them all the very best in the new academic year. The incoming Executive Committee, namely, Joshua (VP and Sponsorship Director), Valerie (Secretary), Annabelle (Finance Director), Si Wen (Marketing Director), Edwin (Editor-in-Chief) and I would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve. It is a privilege, one that we do not take lightly. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the UKSLSS, we promise you that we will give our best, and while we may not always succeed in whatever we set out to do, it must not, and would not be for a lack of trying. I would now like to share with you our plans for the upcoming year:
Providing updates on the latest legal developments
We will be producing a monthly newsletter starting from the month of November 2018. Our Editor-in-Chief, Edwin, has formed a team of very able editors to contribute to this cause. The purpose of the newsletters is to provide you with short and timely updates on the Singapore legal scene and will include both past and new interviews conducted by the editors with various stakeholders. I commend the newsletter team in advance for their monumental effort in balancing this commitment with their studies. The team is constantly looking for contributions from all our members, including as resident writers. For our inaugural issue, we included an interview with Jerrold Soh, Co-Founder of Lex Quanta, a legal tech start-up which aims to build legally-sensitive data analytics. In the December issue, Shermaine Lim, one of our very own editors, brings to our attention the first Bitcoin Trial in Singapore.
2. Furnishing opportunities to adapt to these changes
We are constantly on the lookout for opportunities that will help our members adapt to the evolving challenges that confront the profession. For a start, we are planning to organise an Artificial Intelligence Workshop during the summer in 2019, which will be conducted by INTELLLEX—a Singapore legal tech start-up. We are arranging for a comprehensive programme that spans across 3-4 weekends in Singapore to get members to participate and engage with legal technology.
3. Bridging the gap with the stakeholders
On the 14th of November, we hosted Professor Walter Woon, Dean of the Singapore Institute of Legal Education (SILE) and former Attorney-General (2008-2010) at the High Commission of Singapore in London, in conjunction with the Overseas Singaporean Unit (OSU). Professor Woon discussed the performance of students in the Part A Bar Exams, with particular emphasis on Criminal and Company Law, before providing tips on how to prepare for them in advance. We also discussed the recent developments in the legal profession both at home and abroad, including the proposed changes in 2023 to the training regime in Singapore.
On the 24th of November, we also successfully organised the VacScheme Helpdesk 2018—an event where we invite Singaporean lawyers working in London, many of whom are UKSLSS alumni, to be back as panellists to share their varied experiences at the different law firms. It was a great opportunity for our members, particularly for those who are preparing their applications for vacation schemes, but also for those in their first year to get an early idea on what working as an English lawyer in the UK entails. We invited both associates and trainees for the networking event, which was followed by a dinner session.
In January, we will be holding the Rajah & Tann Recruitment Tea in London, where the recruitment partners will be present to talk to members about applying for an internship or Training Contract back in Singapore.
4. Forging valuable friendships
We hope you will be able to meet new friends, including those from other universities, through the activities of UKSLSS. I would like to thank our University Representatives in advance, who have already planned/will be planning bonding activities for our members, especially the Year 1s who are embarking on their journey of legal education. We hope that you will look forward to meeting new people and making long-lasting friendships!
I hope that the UKSLSS will be able serve your needs, whatever they may be. I reckon the society as a marketplace—you come and find what is relevant for you, take what you need, and then perhaps you can also leave something behind as return, which you never know, may be immeasurably helpful for someone else. While the British playwright W. Somerset Maugham was remarkably insouciant in The Summing Up:
“We live in uncertain times and our all may yet be taken from us. With enough plain food to satisfy my small appetite, a room to myself, books from a public library, pens and paper, I should regret nothing,”
with camaraderie, hard work and the hunger to succeed, we could perhaps choose to put up a good fight first. I wish you all the very best in the new academic year of 2018/19.
Koh Cheng Jun
Executive Committee 2018/19
United Kingdom Singaporean Law Students’ Society