Past Presidents' Messages (2010-2015)
Aakash Sardana, 2015/16
It is my distinct honour to be able to send you this email. While I write it early on a Saturday morning, I hope none of you are awake at this time to read it, though I am sure many of you are. I dearly hope however that you are awake being merry and not instead, studying in the library. To start off, the incoming Executive Committee, namely, Shang Hsuen (VP), Clara (General Secretary), Kristin (Finance Director), Yu Song (PR Director), Danica (Marketing Director), Daniel (Professional and Academic Services Director), David (Editor-in-Chief) and I (Aakash - President) would wish to express its thanks at being given the opportunity to serve you.
We also wish to thank the Immediate Past Executive Committee of Weng Keong, Sherah, Jia Hao, Cumara, Vivian and Esther for their incredible work last year. They opened up a new chapter for the society and we are excited to build on their excellent work. Meanwhile, in this email, I hope to express to you how we intend to do bring the Society ahead this Academic Year.
It is a uniquely challenging time for Singaporean UK Law Graduates, mostly due to market conditions. While we can debate the causes, effects and merits of measures taken by the Government till the cows come home, I think we have to look further. What led me to wish to take up this position has been the continuous perception that all UK graduates are merely doing is adding to the 'glut' or 'flood' of training contract seekers. We find our names being used in manner implying that we dirty or sully the competition for Training Contracts, not enhance it. If there is one thing that I wish to effect a change in during my time as President, it is this.
To this end, the Executive Committee has the vision of improving the Identity, Branding and Infrastructure of the Society. We are currently reviewing our relationships with firms, hoping to expand beyond Singaporean Law firms in particular and Law firms in general. The UKSLSS Constitution at Article 4.3 dictates the Objects of the Society to be 'To provide career advisory support to graduating Singaporean law students.' We will take this especially seriously this year. We are thus even considering tie ups with non-law firms to give our members the opportunity to decide on their career paths in a fully informed manner. We will also see whether we can provide you with benefits such as skill upgrading programmes.
Let me give you some more details about what we have planned.
The loyalty of the UKSLSS remains to the law. The previous Executive Committee brought to you the Firm in Focus as well as Weekly Legal Updates in this regard. Once the internal infrastructure of the Society is up and running, these will continue at full speed ahead.
However, there is space to improve and so the Editorial Committee led by David Lui and Ee Hsien will bring to you our 'Practice Area Insights' Feature. Law firms today are getting more specialised and thus, as a corollary, pigeonholing of trainees begins early. While we are advised to base decisions on internships, how much information do we really have to come to an informed decision? As such, we will begin work on this new feature. Not very different from alternative subject guides created by some Student Unions, it will seek to provide an insight into practice areas one might see in a Full Service or Boutique Firm. The insight will provide answers to basic questions one might have and as the Feature grows in volume, we picture it becoming a repository for you to refer to, to assist you in making informed decisions.
We also have some other new initiatives which we will be announcing down the road, so keep an eye out for our emailers!
We have also seen in the past few days that many opportunities have opened up for our members. You could step up to serve by joining us as a University Representative or hone your inner Academic by joining the Editorial Committee. We have many exciting plans ahead for this year and I am sure you will not regret joining these initiatives from the ground up. The Society seeks to improve the esprit de corps among its members and highly recommends you get involved. We would love to have you on board. General enquiries could be made here. If you have more specific questions for the Editorial Committee or the University Representative Programme, feel free to drop an email to David or Clara, respectively.
I would also like to make it clear that this Executive Committee is accountable to you, the Member. Though we get nothing in return, feel free to drop any of us an email to question or criticise us. If you feel that the Executive Committee is not living up to your expectations, I would be more than happy to personally hear from you here. For any feedback, feel free to have a chat with us or your University Representative. To this end, the previous Executive Committee also made provisions for a Board of Advisors, which at this juncture contains three highly esteemed members of the profession, Mr Paul Tan, Ms Karin Lai and Mr Josephus Tan. The Executive Committee is accountable to them, and you.
I wish you the best possible year ahead. In honour of the recently belated Back to the Future Day, quoting Marty McFly: "If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything." I hope you accomplish much this Academic Year, in whichever field you hold dear to yourself.
With Only the Best of Wishes,
Executive Committee 2015-2016
United Kingdom Singapore Law Students' Society
Weng Keong Kok, 2014/15
I hope you all have had a fulfilling summer (break). Whether you are reading this from the library (probably more likely than not), I hope that you are all getting by. It is my privilege to be able to serve you as the incoming President of the UKSLSS, together with my fellow Executive Committee members- Sherah Tan (VP Secretary), Jia Hao Kwek (VP Treasury), Cumara Kamalacumar (VP Marketing), Vivian Toh (VP Public Relations) and Esther Lim (VP Editorial).
We would also like to thank the previous Executive Committee- Cheryl, Jerrold, Zachary, Wen Ting, Joshua, and Stephanie for their tremendous work the previous year. At the recent Singapore Legal Forum that they organized, we were offered a timely reminder UK law students should continue being competitive in their aspiration to legal practice.
What I admire most about this society is our common thread: getting a legal education in the heart of the common law world. It is worthwhile to note that university education has not always been a prerequisite to legal practice in this country. Sir William Blackstone, in his ubiquitous work, "Commentaries on the Laws of England" talks about a "raw and inexperienced youth" jumping into the deep-end of practice without the entire university experience behind him:
"with no public direction in what course to pursue his inquiries; no private assistance to remove the distresses and difficulties which will always embarrass a beginner. In this situation he is expected to sequester himself from the world, and by a tedious and lonely process, to extract the theory of law from a mass of undigested learning".
Luckily for us, we now have acclaimed Professors designing comprehensive syllabi designed to help us learn the law. Studying law in a foreign jurisdiction means we are constantly making comparisons with Singapore, amplifying both differences and similarities alike. Mandatory EU Law modules, and the UK's strong emphasis on human rights law provide us with additional perspectives. Consequently, we become more creative jurists.
As you would already know, a pressing concern we now face is job prospects in the legal sector back home. As has been reported in the press over the last few months, the supply of law students far exceeds the number of training contracts available. This is the current state of affairs over which we have little control. However, there is no fait accompli. Opportunities still abound.
Moving forward, as the Executive Committee for the academic year 2014/2015, we hope to accomplish the following in our term-of-service:
1. We want to continue promoting the value of the UK Law degree to prospective employers.
Although studying in a different jurisdiction means that we are initially less familiar with Singaporean jurisprudence, the UKSLSS does not view this as a disadvantage. With the advent of the International Commercial Court, Singapore's rise as an arbitration hub, and Singapore's increasing prominence as a financial hub, international exposure should count as an asset rather than a liability.
2. We want to deepen your engagement with the Singapore market.
In this respect, we hope to continue to link-up with employers and ensure UK law students are aware of the latest networking opportunities, internship opportunities and relevant training contract information. You should not be handicapped by a lack of access to information and opportunities.
3. We want to engage you in discourse on Singaporean Law.
As a prospective lawyer in Singapore, it is useful to be cognizant of the latest legal developments in Singapore. Last year, we brought weekly legal updates to your mailboxes. We will continue to do so this year.
The first event on the cards is Professor Walter Woon's visit to several UK cities late this October. I cannot stress the importance of being connected with the Singaporean legal climate and fraternity enough. In the initial stages of planning Apple's new Cupertino campus, then CEO of Apple Steve Jobs wanted only one toilet to be constructed across the sprawling complex. His rationale was that employees from all over Apple would bump into other employees when making visits at the washroom, prompting opportunity for conversation, thereby generating cross-breeding of ideas. It soon became clear that if there were only one toilet, employees would become vigilantes (like a dog running from lamppost to lamppost in an open park) and/or wear diapers to work. But its existence underlies the importance of not merely networking, but by how conversation can prompt new ideas. Hence, I encourage all members to try to make it for one of his events. The London event, which the UKSLSS is co-organising, is also serving a Singaporean dinner- this will be a great time to catch up with other Singaporean law students in the most Singaporean way possible.
I wish you all the best in your endeavours for the coming academic year ahead.
Weng Keong Kok
Executive Committee 2014-2015
United Kingdom Singapore Law Students' Society
Cheryl Teo, 2013/14
Dear UKSLSS members,
“To those whom much is given, much is expected.” (John F. Kennedy)
There is an obvious and critical shortage for criminal, family and personal injury related legal services in Singapore. As law students in the UK, I believe we have been given much as individuals and are poised in prime position to effect change and do our part to remedy this gap. Encouraged by the support of our partners, I am thrilled to announce that the UKSLSS will actively seek to create more opportunities for interested members to exercise their legal skills for the benefit of the wider community.
This includes working closely with the Pro-Bono Services Office and other key figures passionate about pro-bono work to enable and inspire members to get involved. Through this, we hope to encourage members to recognise the importance of improving equal access to justice. We hope for students to equip themselves not only with a sound knowledge and strong technical ability but also a spirit of compassion and service at the outset of their promising careers.
Our core vision stands firm: to provide our members with career opportunities, act as the key contact point between our members and the Singaporean legal industry and equip our members with information to stay relevant in a legal landscape facing exponential change and development. The myriad choices open to each law school graduate have never been more extensive and we aspire to help each member make informed decisions as much as possible. In the year ahead, we also aim to foster a stronger spirit of camaraderie and community amongst members.
The highlights of the previous year included the Singapore Legal Forum, which saw a stimulating discourse with the Law Minister and Attorney-General as well as a discussion with a distinguished panel composed of some of the industry’s most illustrious legal elites. The society’s inaugural Law Ball proved to be a wonderful evening filled with live entertainment, fabulous food and the company of both old and new friends. Finally, the society gained the absolute honour of having former-Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong on board as the society’s first Patron, who also graciously contributed as mentor for the society’s annual publication Lex Loci.
This year, we strive to increase the readership and quality of Lex Loci as not only a platform to showcase the insight and intellect of our contributors but as an established legal publication. We also aim to cement a strong society presence and unique collegiate identity by holding regular social events throughout the year.
I am immensely thankful for the success that Ian, Meera, Sheryl, Clemence, Jin Wei and Theodore have achieved and the professionalism they have displayed. My incoming committee and I are fully dedicated to upholding these exceptional standards.
The society has indeed come a long way from its beginnings and my committee and I are relying on your involvement and support to continue the success of the UKSLSS. We are humbled and thankful for this opportunity to serve and support you and warmly welcome all feedback and suggestions on how we can better cater to your needs.
The year ahead promises to be an exciting one and we look forward to working with and for you. I wish you the very best in your future endeavours and hope to see you around.
Executive Committee 2013-2014
United Kingdom Singapore Law Students' Society
Ian Chai, 2012/13
"What is the argument on the other side? Only this, that no case has been found in which it has been done before. That argument does not appeal to me in the least. If we never do anything which has not been done before, we shall never get anywhere. The law will stand whilst the rest of the world goes on; and that will be bad for both."
Packer v. Packer  2 All ER 127
I hope you will forgive me for quoting yet another legal passage, amid the slew of readings you already have.
The legal sector is always changing, and ever challenging. This is especially so in the burgeoning legal sector in Singapore. There will be some doubt, some anxiety, some doggedness, some gaps of information, as we try to find a place in the legal world. Some members do not go on to be lawyers, many others do; finding the task of securing steady footing in such a world to be no mean feat.
The vision of the Society has always been to address these problems; to give members more career opportunities and information to better assess and secure their choices, to keep them abreast of legal developments in Singapore, and to prepare them for the challenging but fulfilling time in the legal sector.
My new committee and I remain committed to upholding the high standards established by our predecessors, and pushing the envelope on this vision. It is our honour and privilege to do so and serve.
I am sure you will agree with me that Joshua, Nicole, Ann Liang, Zhengyou, and Patrick, have raised the society to new heights of excellence with their exceptional year of work. Chief among their successes were the Singapore Legal Forum, and our annual publication, Lex Loci. The former was well attended by both current law students, and prominent practitioners including the Law Minister himself. The latter saw an increase in readership and circulation, and continues the push the bar (pardon the pun) on the variety and quality of articles it offers. Lastly, there was also the string of successful visits to law firms. All these underline our vision of keeping up with the times as the distinguished Lord Denning so nimbly describes, albeit in relation to legal development. We hope to continue in this spirit.
In keeping with it, we have several new developments in the pipeline in addition to our usual stead of events and publications. Beyond expanding our membership, opportunities for members to contribute, organising dialogue sessions and visits with Singapore firms here and in the UK, we are also looking to organise more opportunities and social events for networking with both prospective employers and fellow members across the UK. Through it all, we are confident that Singapore firms will continue to recognise the relevance and value of UK degrees, and that in every area of the law, we are on par with our counterparts studying at home and other jurisdictions.
For our key events, we are aiming for ambitious changes and improvements. For Lex Loci, we would like to continue to improve its readership and circulation, whilst expanding the intellectual depth and breadth of its articles. We hope that this will further showcase the intellectual vibrancy and rigour of UK Singapore Law students. With respect to the Singapore Legal Forum, we are looking into ways to ensure that it will continue to cater to, and inspire current and prospective law students, whilst exposing the dynamic challenges dotting the legal landscape. We would also like to continue its tradition for being an avenue for students to have an intellectually stimulating discussion with the keenest legal minds.
I therefore sincerely hope that you will continue to rely on and benefit from the initiatives of the society, as we strive to earn your trust, providing ways and a platform for you to better find secure footing in a sometimes intimidating legal world. We are still a young and developing society, and welcome any feedback or suggestions on how we can better help you. Please feel free to contact any member of the committee about this, or if you have enquiries about a legal career in Singapore.
We look forward to working with you, and wish you nothing but the very best in the coming academic year!
Executive Committee 2012-2013
United Kingdom Singapore Law Students' Society
Joshua Jeyaraj, 2011/12
It is indeed a privilege and an honour to take over the society. Ming Wei, Jasmine, Amanda, Ren-en, Melvin and Elton have done a tremendous job over the past year. They have raised the profile of the society to a new level with the level of professionalism and excellence in their events and publications. For those of you who attended the Singapore Legal Forum or read the society's publication Lex Loci, I am sure you will agree that they were huge successes. At the same time, the vision of the society to create more career opportunities for Singaporean law students studying in the UK, keep them up to date about legal developments back home and prepare them for their challenging but fruitful time ahead in the legal sector, continues to be strengthened.
The new executive committee, consisting of Zhengyou, Nicole, Patrick, Joseph, Ann Liang and myself, will endeavour its very best to uphold the high standards set by the previous committee. We will work hard to keep the society and its members moving forward. We would like to expand membership of the society, increase the ways in which members can contribute, foster awareness of the UK education system among prospective law students and organise more dialogue sessions with Singapore firms both in the UK and Singapore.
Regarding some of the key events in our calendar, we hope to organize a Singapore Legal Forum that caters to the dynamics of a changing legal landscape and that will inspire students entering the workforce. We would like to expose some of the challenges faced in different areas of the legal sector and the strong service element underpinning each area. With respect to the society's annual magazine, Lex Loci, we shall continue to ensure its high academic standards so that it will showcase the vibrancy and intellect of UK law students. Building on the success of the Rajah & Tann visit last year, we are looking into the possibility of bringing in more firms to the UK for a combined dialogue and networking session. We hope that by scheduling this session before the Easter break, it will provide a means for students to discover internship opportunities for their summer break. Through this entire process, we are confident that Singapore firms will continue to appreciate the relevance and value of UK Singapore law students and the fact that we are up to par in every department.
I therefore hope that as you begin your new academic year, you will continue to rely on and benefit from the society's initiatives. We seek to win your trust by providing you with a platform of easily accessible career opportunities so that you may focus on the rigours of academic life without too many uncertainties about what lies ahead. As a young and constantly evolving society, we are always looking to find new ways in which we can help you. If you have any ideas or need assistance with any issues relating to a career in law in Singapore, please feel free to email any member of the team.
We look forward to working with each and everyone of you and bid you the best of luck in your studies!
Joshua Rene Jeyaraj
Executive Committee 2011-2012
United Kingdom Singapore Law Students' Society
Ming Wei Sin, 2010/11
The United Kingdom Singapore Law Students Society (UKSLSS) is a student-run society that works closely with the Singapore Legal Service Commission with your interests at heart. We provide the link between the legal fraternity in Singapore and the law students here in the UK. For this reason, we are the first point of contact in the search for Singapore legal talent in the UK. Apart from this, we also aim to stay relevant by helping our members cope with the rapidly changing legal landscape by keeping them abreast of the developments.
The society regularly organizes various activities with the view to serve its members better. Earlier in the academic calendar we had the pleasure of welcoming, to London, the Honourable Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong and Judge of Appeal V.K Rajah, who shared their thoughts on recent legal developments in Singapore and in particular the strategy for making Singapore a regional law hub. This summer, we will again be bringing you the Singapore Legal Forum. This is a an annual high profile that the society organizes to bring together, our members and prominent members of the profession including judges, civil servants and well known private practitioners. This year amongst other things, we hope to give you a better understanding of what it means to be an in-house lawyer as an alternative career path. At the same time, we will be organising a careers fair which will serve as a point of contact and recruitment for the legal industry in Singapore. Besides the Singapore Legal Forum, we are actively looking at other activities to help you prepare for a career in the legal profession.
To keep you informed, we have started an online newsletter called, the 'UKSLSS Legal Update'. We hope that this newsletter will be a valuable source of information regarding legal developments as well as updates on career prospects in Singapore.
It is my pleasure to serve you in this academic year. I wish you all the best for your studies in the year ahead and I look forward to seeing you soon.
Ming Wei Sin
Executive Committee 2010-2011
United Kingdom Singapore Law Students' Society