Singapore

Law students, graduates look outside sector for jobs

Published: 4:00 AM, June 6, 2016
Updated: 11:21 AM, June 6, 2016

SINGAPORE — Faced with a situation where jobs in the legal sector seem to be difficult to come by, some law students and graduates are now casting an eye on opportunities in other industries, including non-government organisations and the civil service.

Ms Amelia Chew, a third-year student at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Faculty of Law, for instance, has spent her past three summer holidays pursuing internships outside the legal industry — an unconventional move for a law student.

“Conventional legal practice is just one of many options there are to enhance access to justice,” said Ms Chew, who is also pursuing a degree in Liberal Arts at the Yale-NUS College.

The firms she has interned at include consulting firm Conjunct Consulting; HealthServe, a non-profit organisation that works with migrant workers; and legal start-up DragonLaw.

Various push and pull factors are causing a “mindset shift” among fellow law students, said Ms Chew, citing difficulties in securing training contracts and the “prospect of burnout” in legal practice. “People are realising more possible paths outside the legal industry,” she said.

The mandatory pro bono scheme at NUS has also raised interest among students to render their legal expertise pro bono.

Fresh out of law school last year, Mr Zhong Xiaohan, 26, ventured into the start-up world. As a business development manager at DragonLaw, an online legal platform that helps clients build contracts without engaging a lawyer, Mr Zhong said his job allows him to pick up a wide range of skills and interact with colleagues from diverse fields, such as marketing and media.

“Half of our team is legally trained, and I find it helpful to interact with those from the non-legal fields, it broadens my perspective and helps me learn new sets of skills,” he said.

Walking the path less taken involves compromises, said Mr Zhong, who cited a lower remuneration and prestige among the “sacrifices” he had to make. “But the legal industry is changing across the world, with the growing use of technology. I’d want to be among the first people in the change rather than wait five to 10 years to catch up with it,” he said.