Saturday, 19 Jun 2021

Lawyer reprimanded over website offering 'mentorship' to law students and graduates

SINGAPORE – The Law Society of Singapore has reprimanded a lawyer over a website that had touted an expensive programme to help law students and graduates secure internships and jobs.

Mr Ang Chong Yi had failed to act in a manner consistent with the interest of the public by making false and misleading representations on the website, which was registered by him, according to a Government Gazette notice published on Friday (May 21).

He was given a reprimand for misconduct “unbefitting an advocate and solicitor as an officer of the Supreme Court or as a member of an honourable profession”.

An online search shows that Mr Ang is still practising as a lawyer.

Details of the website, which was previously accessible at www ., were circulated in the legal community on April 28 last year. It was shut down on the same day.

It claimed that the Covid-19 crisis and shrinking legal market had reduced opportunities for law graduates to practise as lawyers.

Among other things, the website alleged that 65 per cent of prospective lawyers at that time face unemployment, with many firms under a hiring freeze.

“Estimates for 2020 indicate that there are between 150 and 200 new associate positions available nationwide for the 700 Bar graduates for 2020,” it said.

The website also offered to help Bar graduates and law students secure internships or training contracts in law firms through a placement and mentorship programme.

Its team of Singapore-qualified lawyers, hailing from large law firms here or international ones, would recommend the programme applicants to hiring partners or have them directly fill vacancies within their network of firms, the site added.

The website said that for a fee equivalent to 1½ to two months of a legal associate’s salary, applicants would be trained to hone their legal skills such that it would be “inevitable” that they would be hired by the law firm.

The average monthly salary of a law graduate is $5,000, according to the graduate employment surveys conducted by the Ministry of Education in 2019 and last year.

The website also offered to facilitate legal tuition for law students who were below a certain class of honours in their degree. The tuition would be conducted by full-time lecturers or assistant professors from local universities, it said.

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When contacted by The Straits Times last year, law schools here denounced the site as opportunistic and fearmongering.

In a statement last year, the Law Society said the website’s claims on the legal industry were speculative and unsubstantiated.

“We strongly caution parents and law graduates to be discerning about hungry wolves in sheep’s clothing who seek to prey financially on the vulnerability of law graduates,” its president, Mr Gregory Vijayendran, said in the statement.

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