NUS Law celebrates Diamond Jubilee

NUS Law Dean Professor Simon Chesterman (fourth from left) celebrates NUS Law 60th Anniversary with former Law Deans Professor Tan Lee Meng ’72, Dr Thio Su Mien ’61, Professor Tommy Koh ’61, Professor S. Jayakumar ’63, Professor Tan Sook Yee, Associate Professor Chin Tet Yung and Professor Tan Cheng Han ’87.

NUS Law celebrated 60 years of legal education in Singapore with a glittering anniversary dinner on 20 October at the Shangri-La hotel. The event was attended by The Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon ’86 as the Guest-of-Honour, together with more than 300 faculty members, students, eminent alumni and members of the legal fraternity, benefactors and other supporters of NUS Law. The evening was filled with fun and nostalgia, and featured performances by an alumni quintet and founder of the Dim Sum Dollies, Selena Tan ’94.

In commemoration of NUS Law’s Diamond Jubilee, a special anniversary book titled The Lamp of the Law: 60 Years of Legal Education at NUS Law was launched at the dinner. Proceeds from the book will go towards the NUS Law Student Support Fund, which was established at the start of the jubilee year to provide additional sources of financial support for NUS law students. Ten special edition copies of the book, signed by Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean of NUS Law and seven of his predecessors, were all snapped up by donors contributing $1,000 for each copy.

Dr Kevin Tan ’86 presents his book to Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon ’86


The Lamp of the Law: 60 Years of Legal Education at NUS Law

Written by legal historian Dr Kevin Tan ’86, The Lamp of the Law: 60 Years of Legal Education at NUS Law chronicles the development of NUS Law through the decades in six chapters, spanning some 200 pages.

The book covers early efforts made to teach law at Raffles College in the pre-War and early post-War periods, as well as how NUS Law has transformed itself into a global law school today. NUS Law today boasts a vibrant student exchange programme with at least 50 partner law schools around the world, and has an illustrious LL.B-plus-LL.M. partnership with top law schools like New York University, Melbourne and King’s College London. The faculty offers about 120 elective modules each year, augmented by a renowned visiting professor initiative which has attracted luminaries from institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge. It houses over half a dozen research centres that reinforce Singapore’s growing reputation as a leading legal hub in the region.


NUS Law Student Support Fund

The fund will provide financial assistance to law students. Examples of financial support include bursaries and book grants for financially needy students; and grants for students to take part in local and overseas mooting competitions as well as student exchange programmes.

Professor Chesterman said, “We are committed to ensuring that no deserving student should be denied an undergraduate education in law for financial reasons. Currently, around 10 percent of our students receive financial aid based on their family’s per capita income. At the same time, we want all our students to be able to make the most of their education at NUS Law and be able to participate in the programmes and activities offered, regardless of their financial background.”

Humble Beginnings

Founded in 1956 as the Law Department of the University of Malaya in Singapore, the faculty accepted its first undergraduate cohort in 1957 — including Ambassador-at-large Professor Tommy Koh ’61, Singapore’s former Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong ’61 and Emeritus Professor Koh Kheng Lian ’61, who went on to play important roles in shaping Singapore’s laws and legal practices. Over six decades, NUS Law has made a tremendous impact on the study and the practice of law in Singapore. Today, the school has established itself as the leading law school in Asia and is consistently ranked in the top 20 worldwide.

Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean of NUS Law, said, “NUS Law has played a vital role in Singapore’s development as a legal hub. In addition to training the men and women who lead the profession, NUS Law is now recognised as a thought-leader in many areas of legal research. As we celebrate our 60th anniversary, the story of NUS Law is, therefore, the story of an institution and of its evolving role in Singapore. But the richness of that tale lies in the lived experiences of the men and women who studied and taught, mooted and published, graduated from and gave back to their alma mater — through their achievements, their financial support, and the opportunities that they create for the next generation of NUS Law students.”

Despite its humble beginnings, the faculty’s student population has expanded from its pioneer batch of 22 students to an intake of 250 undergraduate students and 120 graduate students per year today. These students are taught by around 70 faculty members representing most of the major jurisdictions around the world.

To date, NUS Law has produced more than 10,000 law graduates, who have gone on to occupy the senior ranks of the judiciary, government, private practice, business, the arts and media communities as well as almost every niche of professional life in Singapore. Prominent NUS Law alumni include Singapore’s first female President Madam Halimah Yacob ’78, Minister for Law K. Shanmugam ’84, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon ’86, actor and playwright Ivan Heng ’88, co-founder and CEO of Razer Inc, Tan Min-Liang ’02, and fashion designer Priscilla Shunmugam ’06.

The year-long celebration of NUS Law’s 60th anniversary involves a series of signature events, including the anniversary dinner and launch of the anniversary book, launch of the EW Barker Centre for Law & Business, the student-organised Law IV fundraising musical, and an Alumni Movie Night.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon in his speech reminiscing about his school days and calling on law schools to reinvent ourselves.

Professor Tommy Koh '61, Ambassador-at-Large and Professor Tan Eng Chye, President Designate of National University of Singapore.

Selena Tan ’94 with a special performance, delighting everyone with her dose of law school memories and songs.

Serenading the audience with "Home", a special arrangement by Associate Professor David Tan and Chok Kerong ’08 for NUS Law. The quintet of vocalists were Tong Miin ’16, Calvin Lee ’17, Priscilla Goh ’17, Lee Shu Qing ’17, and Walter Seow ’18.