Two key bars cited in mid-career law switch

Singapore Management University students in convocation gowns on July 21, 2012. Many mid-career individuals who joined the legal industry say law schools should structure their programmes to accommodate family and financial commitments of older graduate students, if they want to attract more of them.

Several who made the switch to law told The Straits Times that school fees and loss of employment income while studying entailed a huge financial commitment, but they persisted because of their interest in the law.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, in a speech earlier this month, suggested having more pathways to the Singapore Bar to draw more mid-career professionals to the legal industry, particularly those from science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) backgrounds. He urged local law schools to create more such pathways.

All three law schools here – the National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore Management University (SMU) and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), have graduate programmes. NUS has a three-year LLB programme, while SMU and SUSS offer a Juris Doctor (JD) course each. SMU’s course can be done in two to three years, and SUSS’ in about four to six years.

Professor Simon Chesterman, dean of NUS’ Faculty of Law, said the university plans to launch a new JD degree for people with diverse skills that would be complementary to a career in law.

"We are also reviewing our admission process to see how we can attract those with strong Stem backgrounds to law," he added.

Professor Leslie Chew, dean of SUSS’ School of Law, said the school is trying to attract more computer science graduates, given that crime in the future is more likely to be technology-based.

The JD programme at SMU has also seen a growing number of mid-career applicants across the years, said its director, Associate Professor Maartje de Visser.

According to the Law Society of Singapore, the number of lawyers with less than five years’ experience increased from 1,821 in 2018 to 2,897 last year. However, the number of mid-tier lawyers with five to 15 years’ experience decreased from 1,161 to 1,065 for the same period.Law firms told ST that having lawyers with backgrounds in other […]

From Brooklyn To Silicon Valley, Founder And Berkeley Law Alum Rukayatu Tijani Is Charting Her Own Course

Rukayatu Tijani “Give me my check, put some respect on my check / Or pay me in equity / Watch me reverse out of debt.” — Beyoncé

This week, I had the opportunity to catch up with Rukayatu Tijani , a former Quinn Emanuel associate and recent law firm founder. I first met Tijani a few years ago while serving on the Pipeline to Practice Foundation board.

Last November, Tijani decided to embark on the journey of entrepreneurship and founded Firm for the Culture . In accordance with my New Year’s resolution — of speaking with more attorneys on the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of their legal journeys — I was thrilled with the opportunity to cover Tijani’s journey from Brooklyn to the Valley, and from law school to entrepreneurship, for our audience.

Tijani’s passion and purpose are evident to anyone who has met or has been represented by her. And her advice to those who are thinking about Biglaw or hanging their own shingle is both inspiring and instructive. As she recently relayed to Pipeline to Practice : In the projects of Brooklyn, New York, you quickly grow accustomed to choosing your battles. Some battles, frankly, can get you killed — speaking back to the wrong group of folks can set you up to become a target. So you learn to pick your words and actions wisely. This practical wisdom has helped me immensely as an attorney. In the high stakes world of litigation, every interaction with opposing counsel seems like a battle you want to fight to the death. But the most skilled lawyers know when to fight and when to simply fold; they concede some victories to win the ultimate war. I continue to see this strategy at play from the partners I work with; I hope to emulate this tried and true principal as well. Without further ado, here is a (lightly edited and condensed) write-up of our conversation:

Renwei Chung (RC): Congratulations on the founding of your firm, Firm for the Culture, in November 2019. What prompted this move from Quinn Emanuel?

Rukayatu Tijani (RT): […]

The case for solicitor apprenticeships

The University of Law’s national programme director for apprenticeships, Ceri Evans, discusses the benefits of the training contract alternative, ahead of her appearance at LegalEdCon North later this month It takes five years and seven months to become a solicitor via the solicitor apprenticeship route. The solicitor apprenticeship compares favourably to the traditional approach of law degree, Legal Practice Course (LPC) and training contract. However, there are pros and cons to both routes, as Ceri Evans, national programme director, apprenticeships, at The University of Law (ULaw), explains .

The first tranche of apprentice solicitors — apparently, they must always be referred to as apprentice solicitors and never the other way round, as solicitor apprentices, under strict orders from the Solicitors Regulation Authority, because that could potentially mislead the public about their legal prowess — began their training in 2016. They will finish in May 2022. Ceri Evans The first obvious difference between the solicitor apprenticeship and studying towards a degree at a university is the lack or otherwise of a degree. At ULaw their Solicitor Apprenticeship Programme incorporates a degree and all apprentices will complete the necessary ULaw assessments to be awarded an LLB (Hons) in legal practice and skills. Evans believes this is important as, “anyone without a degree in the solicitor job market would stand out, it would look odd”.

Money is another consideration, with university students racking up horrendous debts for fees and living expenses while apprentices earn while they learn. The LPC costs, on average, about £12,000. Apprentices, on the other hand, can start earning straight after A-Levels. The pay varies. ULaw works with 140 firms across England, a mix of high street firms and commercial firms. Evans thinks most apprentices are earning £15,000 upwards but says she doesn’t know exactly because her role only requires her to check firms are paying at least the basic apprentice wage in year one and a basic living wage in year two and onwards.

She also points out that many LPC graduates spend a year as a paralegal or in temporary work before they begin their training contract whereas the apprentice […]

What a Paralegal Does and How to Become One

A job as a paralegal might be ideal for those who appreciate the intricacy of the U.S. legal system and are eager to provide assistance to lawyers. Experts on this profession say it can be a fulfilling occupation for individuals who are detail oriented and enjoy writing.

Reading comprehension and written communication are critical skills to cultivate for success as a paralegal, says Margaret Phillips, an attorney who is director and associate professor of paralegal studies at Daemen College in New York.

"The very best thing to do is to read and write as much as you can," Phillips wrote in an email. "Of course, it is helpful to know legal vocabulary and how the legal system works, but that type of knowledge can be acquired in a paralegal studies program. It is much harder to make up for shortcomings in reading and writing abilities, and those abilities form the foundation for learning and performing legal work."

Thomas E. McClure, director of legal studies and associate professor at Illinois State University , notes that precision is important in the paralegal field, since the occupation is highly technical.

"So, if you’re a broad brush type person, it’s probably not the profession for you, because it’s a lot of detail work, and attention to detail is extremely important," he says.

Paralegals do a significant amount of writing, so someone who is more confident in their public speaking abilities than their writing skills might prefer a different occupation, says McClure, who also chairs the American Bar Association’s commission that approves paralegal programs.

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for paralegals and legal assistants in the U.S. was $50,940 in May 2018. The bureau predicts that employment in these types of jobs will increase by 12% between 2018 and 2028, which is significantly higher than the average projected job growth rate of 5% for all U.S. occupations.

Rising demand for paralegals is a longstanding trend, since law firms are now asking paralegals to do work that previously would have been assigned to lawyers, Phillips says.

"Since the recession, law offices have looked to become more competitive […]

Beyond Boundaries celebrates successful first semester, anticipates future growth

Following a successful inaugural semester, the Beyond Boundaries program looks to continue providing students with new interdisciplinary opportunities while smoothing out some unforeseen hiccups.

The program, under the supervision of Program Director Rob Morgan, allowed 34 students to enter Washington University in the fall without a specific academic division for the first time.

Though individual Beyond Boundaries courses stressing interdisciplinary study have existed in the past, the 2019-2020 academic year was the first one to have a cohort of students within a dedicated Beyond Boundaries program. Rather than entering the University in one of its four undergraduate schools, students take special courses that extend across two or more academic divisions. They take part in the program’s seminar while also sampling courses within individual schools before deciding on a school in March of their freshman year.

According to Morgan, the program ran well in its first semester, especially by getting the students involved in courses and activities offered across the University, though he pointed out that there were some growing pains, such as small issues with their app. He is currently in the process of determining what else the Beyond Boundaries team can improve upon for future years.

“I am so pleased with how well it went,” Morgan said. “I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am anyway, about how engaged these students are.”

Freshman Elizabeth Joseph liked the uniqueness of certain aspects of the program, such as classes that brought in lots of guest speakers and others that emphasized design and creativity in different ways.

On the other hand, she found it somewhat difficult to dedicate so much space in her schedule to the courses. She also pointed out a few kinks with the program that arose since students aren’t in a specific academic division, such as not having access to the Plan It program in Arts and Sciences or having to take business school classes with an Arts & Sciences printing budget.

Overall, Joseph said she likes how Beyond Boundaries encourages students to take part in events that are offered across campus, and she plans to continue with the program next year.

“I think that it’s interesting […]

How Would You Retool The Bar Exam?

(Image via Getty) While we lawyers disagree about many things, one thing that all of us, whether lawyers of whatever vintage, law students, law professors, “thinking about law school” peeps, agree on: the nightmare that is the bar exam, that last hurdle to getting licensed (assuming you’ve passed the moral fitness test and whatever other things lurk in the shadows).

The bar exam: destined to freak out the most stoic, stolid, and calm. It strikes terror in the hearts and minds, even the most outwardly self-possessed. The bar exam: purportedly designed to test the minimum competency required to practice. And that’s the rub, what exactly is minimum competency? How to define it, how to test it, how to use it as a tool to determine who gets that license. How to decide what subjects should be tested. How to decide whether the exam should be in one day, two days, or longer. (Perish the thought, although when I took it in dinosaur days, it was a three-day exam.)

More than 30 states, along with D.C. and the U.S.V.I. have adopted the uniform bar exam. California has not. (A nationwide uniform bar exam might make it easier to argue for multijurisdictional practice, which would be something I would like to see along with many others.)

Although the bar exam is not a marathon, it feels like one. Everyone who finishes it is exhausted and broke. Is the juice worth the squeeze? That depends on who is asked.

Is the bar exam I took all those years ago obsolete? Yes and no. This is not a trick question. There’s much intellectual wrestling going on among law professors, bar administrators, and others interested in the quality of new admittees.

What should the bar exam look like? What should it test? Should it test what some call “rote memorization,” the reciting of legal principles? I think that memorization has its place because I don’t think you can analyze an issue without knowing what the law is to apply to the fact pattern in the question. However, I don’t think the bar exam needs to test whether we can […]

An Interview With Kevin Rosenberg Where He Explains How He Successfully Discharged His Student Loans In Bankruptcy Court

Last week, the Wall Street Journal featured the story of Kevin Rosenberg (also covered here ), a former attorney who did what every student loan debt slave thought was almost impossible — he convinced the bankruptcy court to discharge his student loans in full.

What’s amazing about Rosenberg’s story is that he did this on his own without the assistance of an attorney. I reached out to him, and he was kind enough to grant an interview where he explains what led to his decision to file bankruptcy and how he handled the adversary process on his own.

Please tell me about yourself and what you did after graduation.

I was a Naval Officer. It was part of the officer corps culture that if you stay in, you go to grad school, and if you get out, you go to grad school. It was expected that you would get an advanced degree and work in an office if you got out. To me this meant going to med school, law school, or getting an MBA. I knew I wasn’t going to be a doctor and, having grown up in a very blue collar neighborhood, I didn’t really know what an MBA prepared you for except being a banker and I had a pretty low opinion of bankers. That left law school and I felt that I could help people out and make a good living but soon realized you can do either but not both. So I enrolled and graduated in 2004.

I was hesitant about becoming a lawyer when I began researching and applying to law schools but the admissions staff always assured me that it was a default doctorate degree and that any employer would love to have. They also told me that any job that calls for an MBA will also accept a JD. While working in a clinic setting during my second year I soon realized that I hated the job of a lawyer so I began to examine my options. I volunteered to return to active duty in support of the war in Iraq, even though […]

Veronica Macias wants to pay it forward

The moment Veronica Macias (J.D. ’21) saw Ariel in “The Little Mermaid” sign a contract relinquishing her voice to the devious Ursula, she knew she wanted to be a lawyer. As she got older, working in her parents’ Mexican restaurant showed her that attorneys could be problem solvers. This drove her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in political science from Georgia State. As an undergraduate, she worked in filing at a law firm to get glimpse of life as an attorney. She fell in love with downtown Atlanta and the vibrancy of Georgia State University, and decided to stay for law school. Now, in her second year, she is the national representative for the regional Hispanic Bar Association, president of the Latinx and Caribbean Law Students Association and plans to pursue a career in corporate litigation. Here, she talks about the importance of giving back and why she loves Georgia State Law.

What made you want to stay at Georgia State for law school?
As an undergraduate, I was fortunate to walk by the building every day and I thought it was beautiful. I was in the Prelaw Club and we had a lot of opportunities to come into the building. We got to practice for our Mock Trial in the ceremonial courtroom. That experience was great for me. I knew this is where I wanted to be.

What has been your favorite class?
I looked forward to going to Professor Donaldson’s Contracts class every day. It was like a free stand-up comedy routine. He turned the class into a game show and the last man standing got bragging rights. Another professor I’m thankful for is Professor Rowberry. He’s an all-around great guy. He took 30 minutes at the beginning of one class to give us a history of property law in England, which is where we get a lot of our laws from. Macias (center), pictured with Ana María Martinez (left) and Judge Dax Lopez (left), was awarded the Georgia Hispanic Bar Association Student of the Year Award in 2019. Tell me about your internship/externship experience. […]

Bennett University Admission 2020 Opens for 5 Years BBA LLB (Hons) Program

Bennett University has started the admission process for 5 Years BBA LLB (Hons) program . This course is offered under the School Of Law, Bennett University, Greater Noida. The details of the admission process can be found on the University’s website i.e. bennett.edu.in.

To apply for admission candidates have to visit the application page on the website and follow the application process.

The School of Law intends to establish a centre to imbibe the best practices of national and international law schools in terms of curriculum, pedagogy, innovation in teaching methods, ethics. It also intends to add new interfaces addressing emerging issues.

Bennet University was established in the year 2016 by Times of India Group. Since then, the 5 Years BBA LLB (Hons) program is helping the students to become accomplished professionals and understanding the interface of business & law simultaneously.

The University has also entered into an academic partnership with the Cornell Law School, USA for an intensive exchange of best practices, mutual visit of professors for Bennett students. This program offers students a unique curriculum. It includes subjects like Financial Management, International Business Management, Internet Law, Environmental Law, Gender Justice & Feminist perspective of Law, Corporate Governance and Business Ethics, etc.

Admission scholarships are also offered by the University. This includes fee waiver of up to 100% on tuition fee based on merit on a first come first serve basis. The scholarships are based on the best of the scores in one of the qualifying examinations. The qualifying exam means 10+2 CBSE Board exam or CLAT scores or LSAT -India percentile score.

In the last academic session, more than 50% of the students were admitted with academic scholarships.

Another unique feature of admission scholarship at Bennett University is that the same continues for the entire duration of the program provided the student meets the laid down academic criteria consistently every year.

The internship opportunity offered to the graduate of BBA LLB (Hons) class is one of the best. The past trends have shown tremendous statistics with the opportunity of practice with leading Corporate, Law Firms, Association & Bodies, NGO, Private Lawyers participating in the drive. […]

U of T Faculty of Law launches Black Future Lawyers program

Joshua Lokko knew from a very early age that he wanted to study the law.

“I liked to read – and my mom said I liked to argue,” he says.

Lokko is the first in his family to attend law school. When he arrived in Toronto from London, Ont. to study law and business administration at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law and Rotman School of Management, he soon learned he was one of only six Black-identified students in his law class of nearly 200.

“Over the course of the last couple of years, we got involved in the [law] school and the school reached out to us. Together we collaborated to figure out how we could solve this problem of low Black representation,” says Lokko, who serves as the president of the national Black Law Students’ Association of Canada.

Those discussions ultimately led to the creation of the new Black Future Lawyers (BFL) program, which will engage and support Black-identified undergraduate students interested in studying law, as well as current Black law students. BFL will offer opportunities to participate in special events, conferences and lectures, as well as mentorship and job shadowing. The initiative was inspired by the U of T Faculty of Medicine’s Black Student Application Program .

U of T Law will celebrate the launch of the program, leaders and volunteers on Jan. 15 .

“Black Future Lawyers evolved from taking Medicine’s model and thinking about how it could be applied to law school,” says Lokko, adding the program is a collaboration between the U of T Black Law Students’ Association, Black law alumni and U of T Law.

BFL aims to engage Black-identified undergraduate students, helping demystify the pathways to law while also helping students see themselves and be successful in the profession, Lokko says.

Next year, U of T Law will open its Black student application stream. Applicants must meet the standard academic requirements for admission, but they will also be offered the opportunity to provide an additional personal statement and at least three reviewers from the Black community will read their application.“Black students often under-emphasize, or don’t include, Black-related extra-curricular […]

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