CLD Interest Pieces

Interview with Mr Kalidass

This interview from 2016 has been re-posted from the old Criminal Law Website Project website.

Recently, NUS students had the privilege of speaking with Mr Kalidass as part of the CJC Battle of the Sexes Dialogue. Mr Kalidass graduated from NUS Law in 1997 and went on to teach in a private law school. He then proceeded to join the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) for a remarkable total of 12 years, with a short stint as a legal counselor, before going into private practice. He is currently a Senior Associate in Trident Law Corporation.

We have attempted to document our conversation with him on the exhilarating art of Criminal Law practice – both in the public and private sector.

In the Chambers

Mr Kalidass credited his vehemently pleasant experience in the AGC to his mentor, Mr Edmond Pereira (former DPP, State Counsel and District Judge). He recalled how having a mentor in practice is cardinal in terms of guidance and direction. “The AGC is a great place to start!” Mr Kalidass shared with us on how the challenging work and close supervision amounted to a great experience in the AGC.

The Big Switch

Many concerns float around about the imbalance on Defence and Prosecution fronts. Mr Kalidass submitted that “supply and demand dictates” and currently, there is a steady equilibrium. There would be more problems if there were deliberate shifts. But, owing to the ebbs and flows of the quotidian legal market, switches between the two sides happen regularly. Mr Kalidass himself joined the private practice after spending significant time with the AGC.

On being a Public Prosecutor vs Private Practice

When asked about the difference in being a Prosecutor and a Defence lawyer, Mr Kalidass had interesting insights. He first shared, with much wit, that the first difference was in how he made the switch from submitting aggravating factors to mitigating factors. Mr Kalidass reflected on how his experience with the AGC benefited his perspectives when working in private practice. In the AGC, a lot of material was easily accessible but as a Defence counsel, documentation and information had to be sourced for. Undeniably, this was a challenge. Compared to his work in the AGC, a lot of his work in private practice involved getting to know his clients on a personal level, for they could only be assisted if they could be understood. While he knew that the change would not be easy, he truly enjoyed it. He shared heart-string-tugging and campfire-warmth-inducing stories on how his work touched and changed the lives of his clients and their families. “It’s a privilege to be able to do it”.

In any case (pun unintended), there is always so much more to learn in practice that what was taught in school. Professional conduct, litigation and criminal practice skills, are just a few of the many things. After all, “service is where your heart lies”, as Mr Kalidass astutely put.

The Criminal Justice Club is incredibly thankful for Mr Kalidass’ presence at our dialogue and the sharing of countless thought-provoking experiences. We hope that readers were able to vicariously experience Mr Kalidass’ passion for Criminal Law through this short excerpt. Stay tuned for more interesting dialogue sessions organized by the Criminal Justice Club!

Written by: Uma Sharma

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