To: Whom It May Concern
I am writing in as a legal student to highlight the lack of checks and balances that our law society has in place for our training contracts. This is following an incident which happened between a trainee lawyer and his unqualified supervising solicitor.
In August 2019, Lawyer Tan Jeh Yaw, who supervised the six-month training of Kuoh Hao Teng at Tan Jeh Yaw LLC, had made the unusual move of objecting his application for admission to the Bar.
However, Tan himself was not qualified to take on trainees in the first place. A supervising solicitor must have in force a practicing certificate for at least 5 of 7 years, but Tan’s practicing certificate was only in force for 2 years and 11 months before taking on Kuoh. This means that Kuoh’s traineeship was “invalid” even if Tan had approved of his application.
The Bigger Issue
Tan had took on other trainees at Tan Jeh Yaw LLC prior to this, a number of whom have already passed the bar. What will happen to their status as qualified lawyers? Shouldn’t the law society and other relevant authorities have had these checks in place to prevent such incidents? Also, every legal student in Singapore is required to go through a Practice Training Period (‘PTP‘) which lasts 6 months – so how can we check that our supervising solicitors are well qualified?
What is more appalling, is that Tan was a Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) with our AGC in 2009-2010. Subsequently, he was a legal counsel with Workforce Singapore (WSG) for the next four years. How can a civil servant of such a high position commit these grave ethical issues?
This is a guy who knows the law. This means that his errant behavior was intentional and basically, he fucked up. The question is, do we know how many other lawyers have done the same? We must definitely make a clearer stand against such errant lawyers or they will continue to game the law. These acts of tainting our legal system is unacceptable.