*not a direct quote.
A judge has U-turned on his decision not to name the six trainee lawyers who cheated during their Singapore Bar exams, and allowed them to be named after all.
"Initially, I believed that redacting the names of the applicants would let them go about the process of recovery quietly and uneventfully, but I am now of the view that it is better to face the publicity than to hide from it," said Justice Choo Han Teck.
Five of the lawyers had admitted sharing answers to an online exam in 2020 via WhatsApp messages, and were required to retake it after they admitted their wrongdoing as soon as the investigation began.
A sixth graduate initially denied cheating, and argued that her answers were similar to another student's because they studied together. However, the investigation found that their answers were not just similar, but almost identical, sharing the same patterns and errors. The red-faced graduate finally 'fessed up, and was made to resit the entire course.
Postponing the first five lawyers' applications for six months, and the sixth's for a year, Justice Choo said that, "In a profession in which every member must be like Caesar's wife - beyond reproach - dishonesty is a big problem. But it would also be harsh to have one's professional career ended before it has even begun".
In support of "second chances", Justice Choo also ordered that the six not be named. But a week later he u-turned, apparently taken aback by the level of demand for their identities, driven in part by fellow students who didn't want to be placed under suspicion.
"The tremendous public interest in the applicants' identities seems to have been borne by a mix of curiosity, indignation as well as sympathy", he said. "But strong sentiments may sometimes interfere with the proper understanding of the idea of second chances. We know that there are different kinds of people where second chances are concerned - those who believe in them and those who don't."
"And there are those who need them, and those who give them. And in between, there is a vast stretch in which we can debate to no end as to who is deserving and who is not", mused the philosopher-judge. The Law Society said the court’s decision quashed speculation as to the applicants’ identities.
In the intervening period, the six - Monisha Devaraj, Kushal Atul Shah, Sreeraam Ravenderan, Lynn Kuek Yi Ting, Matthew Chow and Lionel Wong Choong Yoong - have all wiped their social media accounts.
RollOnFriday understands that most studied in the UK. Devaraj appears to have attended the University of Birmingham, while Shah was at the University of Nottingham.
Shah currently works as a legal executive for Harry Elias Partnership, which told the Strait Times that its partners "do not condone his conduct". Sycophants, yes, but not cheating.
Ravenderan and Yi Ting are understood to work at Singaporean firms LVM Law Chambers LLC and Zico Law respectively. Neither firm responded to a request for comment.
Chow was working for Dentons in its Singapore branch, but he has now left. A spokesperson for Dentons Rodyk said it "expects the highest standard of probity from all our employees. Matthew Chow is no longer employed by Dentons Rodyk".
"Omg i know the matthew dude, he was from sajc [St Andrew's Junior College in Singapore]", claimed a poster on Reddit. "He seemed like a decent chap, typical sci stream, then A level not so good then go overseas study law through rich parents".
"Upwards trajectory since secondary school, ruined by a moment of folly", said another poster about one of the six. "Maybe somewhere along the way things changed haha, but this person was both smart and hardworking, kind and was not a snob despite belonging to the upper class echelon. So while I think this is just due deserts, I do feel sorry about this situation".
Heh, only in Singapore. What a nasty, parochial little backwater.
I choo-choo-choose to out YOU.
Old Boy Raffles 29 April 22 10:16: so true. Packed with third rate people.
They seem like my sort of people.
They would be welcomed with open arms by Harneys.
Cheating can happen anywhere in the world, not just Singapore. These losers don’t represent the entire population of Singapore. Stop making unintelligent comments and time to get back to your shabby little convenyancing practice in Slough.
Old Boy Raffles 29 April 22 10:16 29 April 22 11:48: but this sort of cheating is to be expected in a second rate jurisdiction such as Singapore. What is most egregious is the hypocrisy. Singapore sets itself up very grandly, and indeed like most former colonies tries to emulate the English courts and legal profession, but Singaporean lawyers (whether practising there or elsewhere) are notoriously below par when compared with English lawyers. It is little wonder that expat lawyers in Singapore are forbidden from advising on Singaporean law: the local lawyers could not withstand the competition.
They are so quaint, these colonial lawyers. No good at all and clearly up to no good.
The problem with the legal profession in Singapore is that is a closed shop. That short of protectionist mentality breeds generally low ethical and professional standards because lack of completion gives rise to complacency.
Anon 29 April 22 12:35. That was certainly my experience when doing a secondment in Singapore. Working with and being against Singaporean lawyers was invariably unedifying. The quality of their analysis and written work is just not up to scratch. They cannot compete on the world stage - hence the protectionist stance.
"but this sort of cheating is to be expected in a second rate jurisdiction such as Singapore ... it is little wonder that expat lawyers in Singapore are forbidden from advising on Singaporean law: the local lawyers could not withstand the competition."
Sounds like you're the second rate expat sore about not being able to practise in Singapore... think most expats there are practising English law and thriving? If it is a second rate jurisdiction why are you throwing a tantrum about not being able to advise on local law?
Come back to the City and work for me. You will be far less grumpy on a Friday - there is an opening for paralegals.
How about Singaporean who are educated and trained in the UK? Are they considered English or Singaporean lawyer? An intriguing conundrum.
Agree. The legal fraternity in Singapore hates English lawyers, without recognising its own shortcomings. In any event, MC firms have already dominated the SEA market and global clients love us, so I’m not feeling too bad about the notoriously protectionist practising restrictions in Singapore.
ACS(I) 29 April 22 12:46: no, I’m at an MC firm in London. But I have dealt with Singaporean lawyers, both in Singapore and in London. Second rate, I’m afraid. And that is the view of every English lawyer I know.
Anon 29 April 22 12:28 29 April 22 12:48: if they were entirely educated and trained in England, they should be OK. The challenge most Singaporeans face is their sub-standard education and training in Singapore.
Singapore expat 29 April 22 12:54: yes. The legal fraternity in Singapore are very chippy and insecure.
Aren't the English lawyers in SG / Dubai / HK those that couldn't make it in London or NY anyway?
Sorry mate, first I've heard. I've seen a lot of lawyers of different nationalities and it's always a range of abilities regardless of nationality. But you seem to have been wronged in some way by a Singaporean lawyer and now have a huge chip on your shoulder... take care.
@Anon 29 April 22 12:28 29 April 22 12:48
No because you sound and write different, but your training would be marginally better than Singapore trained lawyers. English lawyers should be Britons trained in England and Wales. This classification is also used in advanced (and quality) overseas jurisdictions such as Japan.
I'm neither Singaporean nor British - @ neutral observer, your argument seems to be then that an English lawyer is English not in terms of jurisdiction of qualification but rather nationality (and I am also sensing some classist undertones here when you speak of how people sound and write)?
Because then it explains a lot of the vitriol and chippiness in this thread from so-called "English" lawyers who in reality just feel threatened by outsiders.
Come on RoF, expected better - The mouthpiece of the autocratic city-state, you need to spell the paper's name correctly!
Thank you! Corrected.
ACS(I) 29 April 22 14:34: no chip evident - just an honest appraisal of the abilities of Singaporean lawyers.
@Neutral observer - Spot on. It’s about the native English language and culture that set us apart from the rest of the world. Singaporean (or European) who seek to qualify in E&W don’t count. An entitlement to practise English law by virtue of a piece of paper doesn’t automatically make you an “English lawyer”.
Anon 30 April 22 13:51: Excellent view.
The labour shortage in the legal industry has created an employment vacuum, which resulted in many European (who may or may not have an undergraduate degree in the UK) to work and qualify here as English lawyer. But that doesn’t mean they’re competent. I say this as someone who has worked with loads of European lawyers over the years (Oxbridge/Ivy League educated included) and I’m afraid that 99% of them aren’t up to scratch (and will never be).
The two Kiwi partners (re-qualified to be “English” lawyers) in our restructuring team are known to be garbage but got there for being a dedicated sycophant. Terrible analytical and drafting skills. No good at all.
Some of you keep referring to “English lawyers”. Are you referring to the stuttering, socially awkward and cheapskate white men, who pretend to be gentlemen but are actually racists?
Anon 03 May 22 03:01: no, we are referring to English lawyers.
Speaking as a pretty smooth brained British exMC seniorish inhouse lawyer in Singapore I'd add that I avoid instructing MC SC or US firms.... local firms are cheaper and know the actual laws over here.
low iq 03 May 22 14:54: I am also a senior in-house lawyer in Singapore. I only ever instruct international firms. I find that the local firms do not know their own laws, and the work product is generally of a low quality. I have to say that this tends to be the consensus amongst the in-house lawyers here. We steer clear of the local firms.
LP: Brilliant feedback
Lmao @ the grammatical and spelling errors in your message. Evidently clear why English lawyers like yourselves are showing up their insecurities on this thread. You are just upset that whether US, Kiwi or European - we do it better than you.
Anon 04 May 22 11:21: that is my experience, too. We do not touch the local firms.
Anon 13:51 04 May 22 16:30: what grammatical or spelling errors?
low iq 03 May 22 14:54
that is my experience, too. We do not touch the English firms - US is fine.
high iq 05 May 22 10:54: the English firms in Singapore are better than the US ones.
well, very surprising to see so much hate and racism for an article about students cheating in a bar exam?!
tofu 05 May 22 15:44: what hate and racism?