Community lawyers not second-tier professionals

Community lawyers not second-tier professionals

SINGAPORE - I disagree with Mr Poh Leong Sim that the third law school would create second-tier professionals ("Third law school may create 'two-tiered' profession"; Wednesday).

That would be akin to dismissing family physicians as second-tier doctors, which could not be further from the truth.

The report by the Fourth Committee on the Supply of Lawyers noted that Singapore, with a population of five million, has only 4,432 lawyers. In comparison, New Zealand, with a population of 4.4 million, has 12,005 lawyers.

This shows an acute shortage of lawyers here.

It is worse in the area of community law, where the lawyer has to deal not only with the law but also with the emotional state of the client.

The report recommended recognising double degrees conferred by overseas scheduled universities.

It also recommended that the new law school provide a conversion course, including vocational training and/or specialised modules, so that those with external law degrees can qualify for admission to the Singapore Bar.

Just as there are doctors who prefer to serve the community as family physicians, there are potential lawyers who want to fight for the rights of the little people. I, for one, hope to be one of them.

I certainly would not call these doctors and lawyers second-tier. They may be in small clinics or small firms, but they definitely have big hearts.

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