Somehow the title to this post sounds grammatically wrong. If so, do pardon my grammar but I believe you do get the gist of what this post is set out to be.

It has been almost three and a half years. I am now down to my final semester of this four year law course. Results are out in a matter of hours. The students got the obligatory email from the vice dean of the law school. It seems like a certain lecturer, Mr Cheong, is also picking up this custom from the vice dean. The advice dispensed is always comforting and it is always encouraging. I have been in this beloved law school for almost the required duration for me to obtain my degree. I guess this means that I can consider myself a senior student in the law school. Being a senior student, here is what I, as a current 4L, would have told myself when I entered law school as a freshman.


Number 1: Do not overthink assignments

Do not get me wrong. It is good to get a draft out there as soon as possible and then refine it as time passes. That was what I did. When I was in my first two years of the course, the assignments were released on a Monday and the deadline would be the Sunday that was a fortnight away. Once the assignment was released, I would get a draft done by the very first Wednesday. It would not be complete and extremely piecemeal. In most case, if there were multiple parts to the question, I would do one part a day. I would add on and refine my script almost on a daily basis. I remembered struggling through one criminal law assignment, spending hours everyday trying to perfect a script only to score 65 marks which coincidentally was the lowest in my tutorial group.

Subsequently, the time given to complete an assignment was reduced to a week. This happened when I was in year three. There were also timed assignments. The assignment would be released at 10 am on a certain Saturday and students were required to complete the assignment in two hours. My strategy then shifted to trying to doing every assignment as though it were a two hour examination. I did that for all my family law modules, equity and property law. My assignment grades were a lot better. I realised that what I came up with at first instinct was usually better than me overthinking and coming up with multiple drafts of the same assignment. The best part was because I was spending so much less time overthinking, I had way more time to myself. As I journeyed through law school, I found that I had more time to spend with my family, my work and myself. Doing every assignment as though it were a two hour exam also trained me to answer a question within a limited timeframe. This is exact skillset that I required for the examinations.

Moral of the story: Do not overthink a question. If you know the law, what you came up with in your first try is typically almost the best version of what you have within you.


Number 2: Trying to score that extra mark or two is not worth it

I honestly cannot remember who was the valedictorian for my course in my time at NUS. After a while people tend to forget who topped the course. Therefore it is really not that important who topped a certain module or even less so, who topped a certain assignment. Oh and if you are actually competing as to who topped the PCQs then you are a true clown. I think I scored 73 for an assignment before and I asked myself how I could improve to get my grade up to a 75. That fleeting thought flashed through my grey matter for a moment before I decided that it would be better for me to play computer games or use the gym. After four years I can actually tell you why it is not worth the effort. Chances are you are not going to get first class honours. I am basing this statement on statistics. Since the birth of our beloved law school, there has been a grand total of zero first class honours. The highest class of honours that was ever achieved in the batches that have gone by is second upper. I can comfortably tell you that my batch will not buck this trend. Basic math would tell you that scoring 70 and above for your assignment puts you in very comfortable territory to score a 4.0 for that particular module (you will understand what OCAS is after a while. It is basically a total tally of your assignments and PCQs and it makes up 50% of your total grade for that particular module).

Getting 75 for every assignment is impossible. Even if you could, you do not need it. You are better off getting to know your fellow batch mates and perhaps your seniors and juniors in law school. Or better still, go get a hobby and a life or spend some time with your better half or with your children if you have any. Oh and the difference between 72 and 73 is negligible. Trust me, you cannot explain why one script gets 72 and another gets 73. I have heard all the explanations and debates over whether a script that scored 73 is indeed better than another that scored 72. The arguments were extremely painful and illogical. You can tell the difference between a script that scored 60 and another that scored 70 and above but if you want to see the difference in the quality of a scripts that have one or two marks difference, please do not bother. Just put it down to the fact that the tutor just had his or her favourite coffee before marking the script that scored higher. I know that is not the reason but if you need one please use that reason.

Excellence is not only about grades, it is about how you interact with other students and the people around you. It is how you juggle the seemingly impossible task of work, family, studies and rather importantly, relax and play.

Moral of the story: If you are scoring some 70s and above for your assignments, you are doing fine.


Number 3: Master the examination conditions

I was previously in the track and field team when I was back in school. Well technically I am in school now but you know what I mean… I remember going to the stadium a few times before the event and running on the track before the actual competition day. In fact, I made it a point to run on the track at exactly the same time that my event was scheduled to take place. I was trying to make myself comfortable with competition conditions.

I did exactly that for the examinations. Exams are conducted using this program called Examplify. You only have one device to work on with no external screens. For someone who is used to working on multiple screens or on a huge wide screen monitor, having to shrink everything onto one tiny laptop screen was painful.

For context, this is what I am used to…

However, the rules are the same for everyone. If the examinations were in the evening, I would travel to campus after work and do a past year paper on my laptop in a classroom. If it were in the morning, I would be on campus on Saturdays to do the paper at exactly the same time as the paper. In fact, there were a few instances where I found the examination classroom unlocked and I estimated where I would be seated and plonked myself in that estimated seat.

This is absolutely crucial. Come examination day, there are no nerves. Before the paper I usually think of where I am going to go after the paper more than the upcoming paper itself. Trust me, if you have never tried mastering examination conditions, this is something you need to do if you want to improve your examination scores. Considering the fact that the examination score makes up 50 per cent of your total grade, the examination is way more important than any assignment. You spend so much time debating and working on assignments. Should you not then spend more time mastering examination conditions?

If you were uncomfortable in ANY examination, what I just suggested should be mandatory.

Moral of the story: The examination is the single most important contributor to your final grade. Master the examination conditions.


Number 4: You really need just that 3.5

I know what some people are going to say. That I am the one who is gunning for a second upper and then I am telling others that a 3.5 is sufficient. I am saying this because I secured a training contract without a conversation about my grades. I asked in a casual setting and I got the reply. I also know of people from our law school obtaining provisional offers to join the AGC and their grades are not above the second upper honours band. What I am trying to say is that in the end, it is not what you know but who you know that will get you to where you want to be. Even if you fight for that second upper, that is just because you want that second upper. Your employer may not need you to have a second upper. In fact, what your future law firm needs is someone who is a team player and can contribute to the team. If you do not already know, you will need to work with other people so being an asshole might not help your employability chances. Sorry for using such language but that really is to prove a point.

The legal industry is very small. In fact many industries are very small. People will talk. What do you expect lawyers or judges to do? Do you actually think that they will be consistently talking about work related matters during meals, drinks and out of office scenarios? Humans do share information with each other. Humans either talk good or talk bad about other humans. Talking about a neutral person is never a conversational starter.

I believe I should have one of the better grades among my cohort. However, I see many of my classmates with lower assignment scores and overall grades making excellent arguments in class. During class discussion, they contribute constructively to problem solving. Scoring well in exams just means that you can do exams well. I think these people will make excellent additions to many law firms out there.

Moral of the story: Who you know is more important than your grades (what you know).


Number 5: You need to sacrifice something

This actually adds on to number 4. I realised that I did in fact sacrifice quite a fair bit of social life. When I entered law school I was also in the midst of building my company and I always attributed my reduced social life to my entrepreneurial exploits. However, now that the modules are tapering off, I am resuming all my sports activities, travelling with my family more extensively and reconnecting with friends who I kind of lost touch a little because I was studying. Many of these friends do not know that I am furthering my studies so they must have been perplexed as to my sudden reclusiveness the moment I entered law school back in 2021.

In most instances, grades are reflective of the effort you put into your studies. I do not think it is easy to get first or second upper honours but I think if you do put in the work and you have a decent inclination to the law, you would be able to get that required second lower honours. For me, I set the bar slightly higher and I wanted to achieve at least a semester GPA of 4.0 for every semester. I failed that in my first semester but ever since then, I had consistently scored above 4.0 for every semester. My sacrifice not only extended to minimising my activities outside of family, studies and work to a bare minimum but also consisted of me maintaining a diet that would help my mind remain sharp. I think if you have been an athlete, you would be able to appreciate that it takes more than just training to get you your results. Your nutrition and recovery has to be on point as well. Over the four years, I have learned to realise what is good for not only my mind but my body. I realised that I am very sensitive to caffeine and so I cut out caffeinated beverages from my diet. I also count my calories and I fast on an almost daily basis so that my mind stays sharp. I need to remain sharp because I do 1 hour of readings during my lunch break. I realised that this helps me concentrate.

I have seen a few school mates, some of my juniors, struggling to make that 3.5 CGPA. When they ask what they can do to improve, I always suggest to them that they have to sacrifice something. If your work is taking up too much of your time, get another job. If you have a lot of social life, cut that out. If you are joining a lot of extra curricular activities, that has to go. If you cannot clear 3.5, you cannot take the bar. Then what is the point of you obtaining a law degree that does not allow you to take the bar exam? You came into law school to practice. Do not make the excuse that you are here for the legal knowledge just because you are not making the grade that would allow you to take the bar exam. You most probably said you wanted to practice during the interview. I said that. The panel that interviewed me remarked that I would be better suited to corporate work. I made the promise that I would practice family law. The firm that I am doing my TC at is not doing family law. I told them that eventually I want to practice family law. I might not be doing solely family law cases but I intend to keep my promise.

If you made the statement that you have always wanted to be a lawyer, you need to keep your word.

Moral of the story: If you need to sacrifice something or many things for you to keep to what you said, then you have to make that sacrifice.


Number 6: Stop being idealistic

I never dreamt of being a lawyer since young. I just thought that this is something that I would be good at and I felt that I could make a living out of it. At the same time, I think I am good at solving problems. That is why I entered law school. I do enjoy giving back to society but I am already giving back to society through volunteering at a few organisations or as a case writer at the meet the peoples’ session at my constituency. You do not actually need a law degree to give back to society. However, a lawyer that carves time out to give back to society is worth his weight in gold. Therefore, when I hear things like “this is my lifelong dream”, I usually think to myself “is this really?” If it is for you, it is not for me. I mean I realised that I did not even update my LinkedIn profile to reflect that I am doing my JD at the SUSS School of Law. I just realised it when someone asked me a few days ago. My response was “need to meh?” I will perhaps update it eventually when I obtain my JD or perhaps closer to graduation. When I obtained my A-level grades some 25 years ago, law school was never a consideration. It was always going to be economics or business school in NUS.

Well but some people do still dream. However, despite all the dreams, the law firms that we will be going to are all running a business. I manage a corporate secretarial company and we do accounting, audit and tax related work. I, as part of the management, decide when we do pro bono work. I decided that if a religious organisation comes to us, we will do work pro bono. I am glad to say that we do have some religious organisations from various faiths which have taken up our offer. I, as part of the management, will not accept my staff sacrificing company time and money to do pro bono or low bono work which does not fit our criteria.

Therefore, I believe that I need to be able to contribute to the firm’s bottom line. I need to become a very competent lawyer and when I have my own business unit or my own firm, I can then decide how I want to do pro bono work. Of course if there is a chance to volunteer with organisations like Pro Bono SG at an early stage in my legal career then I am all up for it. This is also one of the reasons, albeit not the main reason, why I was insistent on going to a firm that is not too large to do my training contract. I was told, hopefully not wrongly, that if I went to larger firms, it is likely that I will need to gain clearance before I take on applicants at legal clinics. Putting that aside, I believe that if I want to be effective in helping people as a lawyer, I first need to be a good lawyer.

So the truth is that we all need to be good at the law. We need to be good with contracts, wills and probate matters, property law, tort and many other aspects of law. Not all of us will be able to join a firm to do solely criminal or family work. We will be able to join a firm to do work. General work.

Moral of the story: You are going to need to do things that are not part of your dream. Better wake up…



Law school has really shaped me. I think the SUSS School of Law has honed my train of thought and I am applying logical thinking to my work. It has helped immensely in growing my company. I often stop and think about certain actions and decisions and whether there is a better way to do things or the possible repercussions. I mean I already did that before I entered law school but the legal training made me sharper in what I do.

Anyway, results are out. I hope that everyone did well. For those who did not do as well as they would have liked, hopefully what I said would be useful for you. I mean I am unable to actually travel back in time to tell my younger self all this advice so it would be ideal that what I wrote would apply to actual freshmen of the day. Take it from a person who has one semester left in the SUSS School of Law JD programme. The hard work and the sacrifices are so worth it. To be able to complete this with what I set out to achieve from day one is so satisfying.

Next semester I will be doing my Legal Clerkship Programme. I have no idea what to expect. Hey but that is the fun of every module that passed. I am going to blog about it. If you are interested, just follow me on this blog. Hey! Just Follow Law!


Yours sincerely,