New law school not the answer

As a law student, I agree with Associate Professor Burton Ong ("Third law school: Problems to consider"; June 4), who highlighted the brutal reality of perception and discrimination. Indeed, creating a group of lawyers who specialise in community-oriented work, which many law students learn to view with disdain, is not the answer.

There are some law students who do have an interest in working on everyday issues affecting the man in the street. Unfortunately, these students are few and far between.

Many of us enrol in law school motivated by the money we can earn, rather than the people we can help. We learn that we have to do whatever it takes to earn a training contract with the top legal firms.

Law students have been moulded to distance themselves from community law. Despite encountering people in our lives who need help with wills or divorces, rent agreements or the sale and purchase of HDB flats, many of us have decided that commercial law is the way to go.

Trying to create a different breed of lawyers operating in the same industry and environment as others, without taking these influences into account, is fruitless. The solution lies within the system, and not in a new parallel system.

Prominent lawyers have to stop emphasising that commercial law, with burgeoning foreign investments and mergers, is the best option. Big firms have to stop enticing law students with sweet deals, while we, as students, must avoid being swayed by the shiny prospects being dangled in front of us.

Law schools and professors have the ability to start this positive cycle as they have the greatest influence on their students.

An alternative law school is likely to fuel more competition and disdain.

Meanwhile, our family and friends who need help on everyday issues will be left wondering: Where did all the lawyers go?

Hilda Foo (Ms)

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