Singapore's third law school, set up at SIM University (UniSIM), will take in students from Academic Year 2017. This was announced by the Ministry of Law at a press conference on 16 February 2016.
UniSIM's School of Law will be a specialist law school for the training of prospective family and criminal lawyers, which will address the shortage of practitioners in these fields. Professor Leslie Chew, a Senior Counsel, is the Dean of this new law school, which will see one intake per year. Classes will begin in January 2017, with an initial intake of 50 – 60 students.
Panel members at the press conference comprised Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance; Mr Ng How Yue, Permanent Secretary for Law; Mr Lam Yi Young, Deputy Secretary (Policy) in the Ministry of Education; Mr Narayanan Sreenivasan, Managing Director of Straits Law Practice LLC; Ms Foo Siew Fong, Matrimonial & Family Law Head and Partner at Harry Elias Partnership LLP; and Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President of UniSIM. Ms Indranee chaired the Steering Committee set up in November 2013 to guide the establishment of this School.
The UniSIM Law School will offer two law programmes – a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) for undergraduates and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) for graduates. With a curriculum that is credit-based and modular, students will have the flexibility to complete the LL.B. in four to six years and the J.D. in three to six years. The School will provide an opportunity for those seeking a mid-career switch to law, such as paralegals, law enforcement officers and social workers, and create an additional path for prospective law students who may otherwise have to go overseas.
The majority of the students are expected to be mature students with life and work experience. With holistic admission criteria, students will be selected not just based on their academic ability, but also their aptitude, attitude and interest in the practice of family and criminal law. They will appreciate the multi-disciplinary curriculum, with its strong focus on applied research. The practice-oriented curriculum will also include a mandatory six-month practicum for hands-on teaching and learning, which will allow the students to apply what they have learnt and handle real-life cases under the close supervision of senior legal officers or practitioners. The School’s interim location will be at the existing UniSIM campus, and the proposed long term co-location with the State Courts and/or the Family Justice Courts, so as to support the emphasis on practice.
The panel also shared that the UniSIM Law School will provide continuing education and training opportunities for both legal and non-legal professionals, in line with the nation-wide SkillsFuture initiative to encourage lifelong learning. A school with a difference to make a difference, UniSIM's School of Law aims to meet the community's needs for well-equipped family and criminal lawyers with a strong sense of justice and a heart for their fellow Singaporeans.
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Artist's impression of the new State Courts Complex (Source: State Courts, Singapore).