Saturday, May 20, 2017
JD Aftermath #6 : LLBs
Interactions with LLBs are the fundamental difference between SMU and NUS's approach towards legal education for mid-career professionals. SMU prefers that mid-career professionals interact with themselves first with limited exposure to LLBs to come later. NUS would thrown their JD-equivalent to swim with the sharks from day one.
JDs will generally begin to have encounters with LLBs when they start picking up elective modules in SMU. Its generally a great experience.
On the surface, LLBs are the ideal children of Singapore Tiger Moms. Perfect in every way. Straight As for their A levels. Future lawyers and bright shining lights of the legal industry.
The Elite of the Elite.
That's until you get to them better.
The cynical will say that SMU has a dual-track system for LLBs. You know which 'caste' an LLB belongs to after just talking to them for a short while.
a) Tee Kong Kias
Hokkien for Heaven's Child, the Tee Kong Kia are the true beneficiaries from SMU's brutal legal education system. These guys are excellent in class and also have plenty of options to represent SMU in Moot competitions. They are mature, articulate and intelligent.
Half of the time I think their lives will be wasted in the Law because I imagine how many jobs they can create if they go the way of the Razer's CEO who was also a law undergrad.
Nevertheless I expect their impact on the legal system to be large in the future.
b) Tai Ko Kias
Hokkien for a Leper Child, I was so glad to have buddy LLBs who are Tai Ko Kias. ( I use this term in an affectionate manner which shows my appreciation of them. )
They are still brilliant because its still Law School, but they are chill and prefer to use their high general intelligence for things other than beating the shit out of other Universities unfortunate enough to face SMU in competition. ( Recently, we beat the crap out of Oxford. )
It is the Tai Ko Kias who remind of my days in Raffles Hall 20 over years ago and my Toastmasters days when somehow most of my friends were Law Students. The lecture tutorial system in NUS gives more room for slackers who typically pick up tempo only a couple of weeks before the exams.
LLBs are simply better than JDs because, unfortunately, the JD program accepts graduates with no working experience allowing others to cast the JD programme as a 'second chance' for those who do not qualify for the LLB the first time round. This is why in previous posts, I propose provisionally alloting a seat for JDs but insisting that they use their first degree for two years in the work force before admission.
Advice for JDs is to avoid classes with many Tee Kong Kias when you choose an elective.The shift in the grading curve is brutal and two of my modules International Moots and Civil Procedure took a nasty hit because my classmates were too brilliant and can survive on 4 hours of sleep a day.
[ Tip : Tee Kong Kias take the more substantive and litigation driven modules because they are damn zhai and want to kick everyone's ass. You should avoid International Moots, Civil Procedure and super-hard modules like Insolvency.
Tai Ko Kias take the modules which my friends claim are more relaxed and gentle like anything related to Mediation and Arbitration. Subjects with low legal content like Project Finance also attract Tai Ko Kias. ]
Do enjoy working with your Tai Ko Kia buddies because they are possibly the only students who don't mind giving JDs a chance to work with them as they are friendlier and less grade optimised. Take into account that they have just completed JC or NS so may not be as conscientious as full working adults.
Due to the generation gap, you can really benefit from trying to understand how they interact and use their apps. It's not what we 40s do, even if we are tech savvy.
That being said, I really benefitted from studying alongside young people : Yesterday in my office, I schooled the 20-something associate on the latest album by Harry Styles.