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6 more trainee lawyers who cheated at exam withdraw Bar applications, will give 'deep thought' before reapplying

SINGAPORE — Six more law graduates who cheated during their 2020 Bar exams in a high-profile case have withdrawn their applications to be called to the Bar, saying they do not have enough time to show that they are fit to be admitted as lawyers.

(Top row, L to R) Lynn Kuek Yi Ting, Kushal Atul Shah and Sreeraam Ravenderan. (Bottom row, L to R) Monisha Devaraj, Matthew Chow Jun Feng and Lionel Wong Choong Yoong.
(Top row, L to R) Lynn Kuek Yi Ting, Kushal Atul Shah and Sreeraam Ravenderan. (Bottom row, L to R) Monisha Devaraj, Matthew Chow Jun Feng and Lionel Wong Choong Yoong.
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  • Six more law graduates who cheated at the 2020 Singapore Bar exams have withdrawn their applications to become full-fledged lawyers
  • They were among 11 trainee lawyers who cheated
  • Their applications were delayed in April for six months to a year
  • Their lawyers said that this time period was not enough for them “to show that the circumstances of being a fit and proper person have changed”
  • High Court Judge Choo Han Teck agreed but told them to find work as paralegals or in a similar endeavour

SINGAPORE — Six more law graduates who cheated during their 2020 Bar exams in a high-profile case have withdrawn their applications to be called to the Bar, saying they do not have enough time to show that they are fit to be admitted as lawyers.

In a hearing before High Court Judge Choo Han Teck on Monday (Aug 15), their lawyers gave the assurance that they will not re-apply to the Bar without giving deep consideration to the matter and consulting relevant parties, including the Attorney-General.

The six trainee lawyers, who are among 11 who cheated, are:

  • Monisha Devaraj
  • Kushal Atul Shah
  • Sreeraam Ravenderan
  • Lynn Kuek Yi Ting
  • Matthew Chow Jun Feng
  • Lionel Wong Choong Yoong

They were publicly named in April when Justice Choo reversed his decision to redact their identities, saying it was better for them to face the publicity rather than hide from it. Their actions first came to light earlier that month.

TODAY understands that Mr Sreeraam worked at LVM Law Chambers, Mr Chow at Dentons Rodyk & Davidson, Mr Shah at Harry Elias Partnership and Ms Devaraj at K&L Gates Straits Law.

Five of the law students had communicated with each other and shared answers in six of the papers for Part B of their Bar exams, including one for “Ethics and professional responsibility”, through WhatsApp.

They were made to retake the six papers and their applications for Bar admission were delayed by six months.

The remaining student, Ms Kuek, colluded with another examinee and cheated on three of the papers. Her application for admission to the Bar was delayed by a year.

Unlike the other students, she initially denied any wrongdoing when the Singapore Institute of Legal Education (Sile) began its inquiry, but eventually filed an affidavit apologising for her conduct.

Apart from these six, the AGC subsequently announced that five more trainee lawyers were also caught cheating during the exams in 2020.

One of them, Mr Leon Tay Quan Li, withdrew his application on May 1 and apologised for his actions. He had colluded with Ms Kuek.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon imposed some conditions on Mr Tay in allowing him to withdraw his application. These included not bringing a fresh application for admission to the Bar in Singapore or elsewhere for a period of five years.

The chief justice also rejected Mr Tay's bid to have the documents in his legal case sealed from public view on mental health and other grounds.

FIND WORK AS PARALEGALS: JUDGE

On Monday, Justice Choo granted the six graduates leave to withdraw their Bar admission applications, but said it would not be necessary for him to impose any specific conditions.

Nevertheless, he said that they should do two things “for the sake of consistency and flexibility” because the remaining four exam cheats will appear before Chief Justice Menon later this month.

The judge recommended that the six find work as paralegals “or in some similar endeavour so that a respected mentor may testify to their suitability to reapply” for admission to the Bar.

Paralegals are trained in matters of law but are not fully qualified as lawyers. 

Justice Choo also told them to consider when they should reapply and said he would not give a strict timeline on that.

Ms Devaraj, Mr Kushal and Mr Wong were represented by Senior Counsel N Sreenivasan, who told the court that they realised a six-month period “would not be sufficient for them to show that the circumstances of being a fit and proper person have changed”.

Mr Sreenivasan also said that they needed more time to address various issues raised by Justice Choo and Chief Justice Menon in their respective judgements.

He told Justice Choo: “I wish to assure Your Honour and this honourable court that they will not come back without very deep considerations as to whether they have met the requirements Your Honour set out and requirements any other judges of the High Court have set out in connected matters.

“I also have instructions from all three to assure Your Honour that they will, prior to making any application, give not only deep thought as to what they’ve done, but take on board the view of the stakeholders,” Mr Sreenivasan said.

He added there would be "no half-baked attempts" and reiterated that they would not reapply "without deep consideration and reflection".

The stakeholders are the Attorney-General, Law Society of Singapore and Sile. Their representatives told the court that they did not object to the trainee lawyers’ withdrawal of their Bar application admissions.

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