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Law Society president defends legal profession after ‘misguided’ criticism over exam cheating case

SINGAPORE — Law Society president Adrian Tan has hit out at those who criticised the professional body for turning a blind eye to exam cheating, saying these commentators are "misguided".

Law Society president Adrian Tan defended the legal profession against commentators who have criticised the association and the vocation.

Law Society president Adrian Tan defended the legal profession against commentators who have criticised the association and the vocation.

SINGAPORE — Law Society president Adrian Tan has hit out at those who criticised the professional body for turning a blind eye to exam cheating, saying these commentators are "misguided".

In a message published in the Law Gazette on Thursday (April 28), Mr Tan said the case involving the trainee lawyers who cheated in the Bar exams showed that "there are commentators who are quick to condemn lawyers, based on the conduct of non-lawyers".

"They do so without understanding the background of events or waiting for matters to be resolved. They are in a rush to judge us, practising lawyers, and to urge us to reflect on our own ethics."

Mr Tan stressed that the six people who cheated have not been admitted to the Bar, which means they are not members of the Law Society and are not lawyers.

"One important prerequisite for admission (to the Bar) is for the Law Society to issue a special letter, called a Letter of Non-Objection. This letter states that the Law Society does not object to that person’s application to the Bar. The point of such a letter is to say that that applicant is a fit and proper person to be an advocate and solicitor," he explained.

Addressing commentators who criticised the Law Society for "somehow turning a blind eye to cheating", Mr Tan said: "These commentators are misguided. It is because these six persons cheated that the Law Society did not agree to admit them as advocates and solicitors."

He also clarified the role of the Law Society, saying that the exams are not set by it, nor does it have any power to punish the six involved as they are not members.

UNFAIR TO TARGET LAW FIRMS

Those who criticised the law firms that gave training contracts to the six applicants have “failed to understand the sequence of events”, Mr Tan added.

Trainees apply to join law firms “long before” they take their Part B exams and they may finish their training contracts even before sitting for the papers, he explained.

They also take the exams as private individuals, “not under the auspices of any law firm”.

“There is no suggestion that any law firm gave a training contract to a trainee knowing that the trainee would later cheat in the Part B exam. It is unfair to target those law firms," Mr Tan wrote.

He also refuted claims that the society had agreed to redact or conceal the applicants’ names.

“This is flatly wrong,” he said, noting that the Law Society had made submissions in court to overturn the redaction order.

“The Law Society believes in open justice. That is the best way to engender trust and confidence in the legal system," he added.

BUILDING A BETTER BAR

Stressing the importance of ethics to the profession, Mr Tan said that the Law Society punishes lawyers who have behaved unethically.

“We report their misdeeds and publicise their names. No one, no matter how senior or prominent, is spared," he wrote.

He added that the Law Society is committed to building a better Bar, which is “a task that never ends because the Bar is made of human beings”.

Because the association values integrity in the legal system, Mr Tan said each applicant is reviewed carefully.

For the six applicants who had cheated, he said: “It is up to each individual to reflect, reform, and convince not just the Law Society, but society in general, that they can be trusted, and they have something to contribute, to the nation, as lawyers.” CNA

For more reports like this, visit cna.asia.

Related topics

lawyers court cheating Bar exam LawSoc

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