Feels like just yesterday when I entered the SUSS School of Law as a year 1. Affectionately we were called “1Ls”. More appropriately labeled law school newbies. It just turned 2024 about two hours ago and barring anything unforseen, this is going to be my final year in law school. I never had any senior truly sharing with me how it all panned out for him or her. I hope to share some bits of my experience to the batches that come after me to perhaps calm some nerves. I have had some juniors asking me how bad it is going to be and I would actually say, it is not that bad if you are consistently putting in the work and if you love the law.

After much deliberation, I think it would be useful to others for me to share how I fared in all my modules thus far.

I have cleared six semesters and have done 16 modules in total. My worst grade was a B for Introduction to Social Services. That was my solitary 3.5 among my 16 modules. I have 10 B+s (i.e., 4.0s), 2 A-s (i.e., 4.5s) and 3 As (i.e., 5.0s).

The first semester was my worst semester. I had 3 B+s and 1 B and I had a semester GPA (SGPA) of 3.88. This put me in the second lower honours range. I struggled immensly with Introduction to Social Services. I could not understand the module and I do not think that the lecturer was as helpful as he could have been. This was one of the most frustrating module I had ever done in my time as an undergraduate and this includes my time as a student in my first degree in NUS.

My second semester I had an A, an A- and 2 B+s. My SGPA was 4.38. I studied extremely hard this semester. I told myself that I had to pull up my grades this very semester if I wanted to achieve my goal of obtaining a second upper class of honours at the end of my 4 years in SUSS. This was the toughest semester of the six semesters so far. Perhaps because of the pressure I placed on myself more than the difficulty of the modules. Looking back, I think I only struggled with Constitutional Law assignments. Ironically, I did well for the module. Perhaps my junior college tutor was right, I do perform best under pressure. At the end of two semesters, I had a cumulative GPA (CGPA) of 4.13. This put me above 4.0 CGPA which meant that I was in the second upper class of honours range.

The third semester was, to me, easier than the earlier two semesters. Torts was a struggle at first but I had an excellent tutor who taught me how to break down a case to understand it easier. I had a contracts tutor who really helped bring out my analysis in my writing. I think this was the pivotal semester when I sort of got into a groove and understood how to craft my notes. I developed the confidence to truly argue my point in front of my classmates. I scored a B+ and an A- for the semester. My SGPA was 4.25 and my CGPA stood at 4.17. Still within the second upper class of honours range.

The fourth semester was difficult for me. Perhaps almost as difficult as the second semester. The two modules for the semester were substantive criminal law and another on procedure. I did not do as well as I wanted to in my assignments for the substantive criminal law module. Perhaps I was giving myself too much pressure as I wanted so badly to be a criminal lawyer. While I did not deviate from my style of writing, I think my enthusiasm to put forth a compelling argument to “save” the accused got me in hot water. A lesson learned from the semester was not to make arguments that deviate too far off the beaten track. If a certain similar fact pattern has manifested, stick to how the courts have decided. The nuances in the details are not there for me to make the alternative argument. I scored two B+s for the semester. I studied very hard to pull up my grades for the substantive criminal law module during the exams as my score (OCAS for those of you in the course) was not sufficient for me to score a B+. It did not help that November was seasonally a busy period at work as my work entails filing corporate taxes on behalf of our clients. I did sufficiently well in my opinion and by my own personal standard. My SGPA was 4.0 and my CGPA stood at 4.13. Still within the second upper class of honours range. To me, things have been moving along rather smoothly. Although this was the semester that caused a large proportion of the hair on my head to turn grey. If you see me without grey hair, it is because I periodically visit the hair saloon to have it coloured.

The fifth semester was an enjoyable semester. In fact the whole third year was perhaps the least pressurising period thus far. Perhaps it was due to the fact that I was happy with where my CGPA was and so long as I obtained my second upper class of honours, I would be content. Family life and work took centre stage in 2023. I also started to participate in other activities as I represented the faculty in touch rugby and football. The semester consisted of one of two family law modules and another property law module. I scored A for my family law module and a B+ for the property law module. I had an SGPA of 4.5 and a CGPA of 4.2. This put me firmer in the second upper class range.

The sixth semester was also not stressful at all. My wife actually asked me why I did not have to study. I still did my readings and prepared for classes. In fact, to date, I can only remember not attending one class over the 6 semesters. I may be wrong and there may be one or two more which I may have missed but I know I try to attend every single class there is. Equity is not as daunting as it seems. I relied heavily on the chunked lectures which Mr Ng recorded on YouTube. I did spend a great deal pondering over the family law and equity topics. I started to form a lot of opinions on judgements and even disagreed with my lecturers on certain matters but I always backed it up with proper analysis and cases. For some reason I think family law seemed second nature to me and equity turned out to be one of my favourite modules during my time so far in law school. I scored an A for the family law module and a B+ for equity. I had an SGPA of 4.5 and a CGPA of 4.25. I am quite certain of my class of honours. I will only need an average of 3.0 for my remaining modules to graduate with a CGPA of 4.0 and above for a second upper class of honours. In my batch, there is no one on course to graduate with a first class honours. I believe this should be the same for previous batches.

In summary, these are my grades thus far.

I do not think that law is as difficult as many make it out to be. The caveat to my statement is that a law student should do his readings and prepare for every class. I did do all my readings and I was always prepared for class. The readings are not difficult to clear. I spend an hour during lunch and an hour and a half every night to clear all the readings. In year 3, I did not do much exam preparation except to try out the past year exam papers on campus to simulate the examination setting. I used to participate in competitive events when I was younger and my coach would bring me down to the venue of the competition just so that I would be acclimatised to the venue. It helped set my nerves then and it served me well thus far in law school. I do not feel exam stress. Instead, I dislike assignments. I would very much prefer if the examination grade was 100% of the final grade. I feel that this is the most accurate way to assess an individual’s capability especially if class participation is not graded. Everyone is given the same questions with the same resources with only themselves in front of the computer to answer the questions. Yes I am weird and I can sense that I will get a lot of weird comments from my classmates for that statement.

I spent a lot more time working and with my family in 2023. This was because I am contented with the class of honours that I am on course to obtain. I also spent a lot of time exercising and also started furthering my Thai (I have a business based in Thailand). I also travelled quite a fair bit for both work and holiday. My company did very well in Singapore as our client base extended and I took on more responsibilities. I also undertook to lead a project by taking up an appointment which some of my clients offered. I was very busy outside of law school in 2023 and I will be even more busy in 2024 but I think I can afford to because I had done the heavy lifting earlier in programme. I am not sure where my current CGPA stands among the rest of the students in my cohort but I am guessing that I would be placing in the upper quartile within my batch. I already secured, and signed, a training contract with a law firm with characteristics which I wanted. I only sent them my grades. I did not send them my CV. Perhaps this would help to put to rest the thinking that it is very difficult for graduates from our law school to get a training contract. My sample size is a meagre 1 so perhaps this is not indicative of the whole legal landscape but I hope that my experience will encourage those who are looking to obtain training contracts to not feel disheartened. Hey! We are a bona fide law school!

Now that 2024 is upon us… to those in my batch. We are finally the most senior in the law school! (well save for those taking LLB who are doing their 5th year.)

Study hard everyone. To the batches after me. Hey believe me, it gets easier over time. It helps if you enjoy what you are studying. If you don’t, perhaps law is not for you.

Otherwise… dura lex, sed lex.


Yours sincerely,