18 April 2019: Liberal arts education stands Yale-NUS Double Degree students in good stead as they head into legal field

By Michelle Lee

The Yale-NUS Double Degree Programme with Law (DDP) is an innovative five-year programme that allows students to pursue both a liberal arts education and professional training in law. Offered jointly with the National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Law, the inaugural batch of students graduated from the programme in 2018 with a second batch now following closely behind. Latest@Yale-NUS speaks with four DDP students about their plans upon graduating.

Image by Michelle Lee for Yale-NUS College. 

Daryl Yang (Class of 2019, in photo above) will be preparing for the Singapore Bar later this year. He will join Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow as a trainee after completing his bar examinations.

His primary goal in joining the DDP was to become a more effective advocate for marginalised communities, particularly for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth.

“The DDP allowed me to gain a better understanding of both the larger social and political issues I cared about and gave me the legal training to make an impact,” Daryl said.

By receiving a dual education in the liberal arts and law, Daryl feels that he has become a better advocate for social issues.

“My dual experiences in Yale-NUS and NUS Law constantly reminded me of the differences across disciplines and communities, and made me more cautious of making universal claims about any particular issue. This was especially useful with my advocacy projects, as a sense of nuance goes a long way in increasing the effectiveness of any strategy that we might adopt.”

During his time at Yale-NUS, Daryl found the opportunity to develop himself as a leader and set up two student groups, the Inter-University LGBT Network and the Community for Advocacy and Political Education (CAPE).

“I’m very grateful for the support I received from my classmates and staff mentors at Yale-NUS College and the few like-minded friends I found at NUS Law to have been able to turn my ideas for promoting student activism into reality.”

Image provided by Shiyin Zhou.

Nicholas Siew (Class of 2019, in photo above) will be working at the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). A recipient of IRAS’ scholarship, he will be working in the legal department, which deals with tax-related matters. He shared that he chose the DDP because he “wanted to have his cake and eat it too.”

“Despite knowing that I wanted to pursue law, I felt that reading it as a single degree would not have been enough to satisfy my curiosity for other disciplines such as philosophy and economics. Additionally, I saw a big draw in being able to live and interact with students from various parts of the world, since this is an opportunity that most local tertiary universities do not offer.”

Nicholas shared that his biggest takeaway from the DDP was an appreciation for other countries and cultures. “First and foremost, that it is important to have a global outlook, and to be culturally sensitive, especially at a time where exchanges with an international audience are becoming increasingly common. Apart from that, the DDP has impressed upon me that the law is not a lone-standing discipline, but has applications in more areas than we might give it credit for.”

Image by Michelle Lee for Yale-NUS College. 

Like Nicholas, Yee Jia Rong (Class of 2019, in photo above) will be joining the public sector. He will be working as a Legal Service Officer at the Attorney-General’s Chambers. His time in the DDP allowed him to grow not just as a law student, but also in his creative endeavours.

“Being exposed to a whole lot of artistic activity in Yale-NUS, especially theatrical and musical events, gave me the courage and interest to compose and arrange for NUS Law’s yearly musical, ‘LAW IV’.” When asked about his proudest achievement during his undergraduate career, he answered, “Writing and performing for ‘LAW IV’, by far.”

His biggest takeaway from the DDP has been receiving exposure to many different subjects and perspectives on the world through the liberal arts, which he says has given him a deeper understanding of the law.

Image provided by Abeeku Essilfie Quaye.

Besides those who will be working in Singapore, Jessica Teng (Class of 2019, in photo above) will be heading overseas after graduation. She will join Allen & Overy, one of the five leading law firms in the United Kingdom.

While she was initially uncertain about whether the DDP would prepare her well for employment, she shares that the global exposure she received as a Yale-NUS student was invaluable in helping her land an overseas job.

“I think I really benefited from the Yale-NUS educational experience because it gave me an international outlook that employers appreciate. I had the opportunity to spend a month at the London School of Economics with the help of the Yale-NUS Summer Academic Scholarship, and I realised I loved the city. I also had the chance to interact with students who had interned in the top UK law firms, and that put Allen & Overy on my radar.”

What initially drew Jessica to the DDP was the warmth and personal touch that came with belonging to a small residential community at Yale-NUS.

“The biggest draw for me was the promise of getting a solid legal education from NUS while having a small and tight-knit community to return to at Yale-NUS.”