I was delighted to hear from so many of our alumni in response to my first letter to the NUS Law community. I received letters, e-mails, and telephone calls of support, encouragement and advice. I’ve also taken the opportunity to begin reaching out to our different stakeholders.
Law School continues to reach out to our alumni. Naturally this includes reunions of our Singapore-based alumni, but we have also begun a process of engaging alumni around the region. Our Indonesian alumni gathered for the launch of the NUS Overseas Alumni Chapter in Jakarta in February. Earlier this month, NUS alumni in Hong Kong came together at Lan Kwai Fong. More recently, Professor Alan Tan ’93 and I were in New York to discuss our ongoing partnership with New York University and took the opportunity to meet with alumni based in New York over a dinner of Southeast Asian food — at a place suitably titled “Café Asean”. Find out more (and view photographs of the events) in our Reunions section.
I look forward to many more interactions with our alumni. If you have an idea for an event, please contact Associate Director of Alumni and Development Trina Gan ’04.
We recently organized an informal lunch with members of the Judiciary. They were kind enough to visit our Bukit Timah Campus – a homecoming for some of them who studied here at what was then the University of Singapore.
Another priority has been reaching out to representatives of national and international law firms, both with a view to creating opportunities for our students as well as getting insights into how NUS Law can contribute to the legal environment in Singapore.
One way in which we contributed recently was our participation in the Rule of Law Symposium held at the Supreme Court in February, organised in partnership with SMU and the Singapore Academy of Law. My colleagues Professor Joseph Weiler, Professor Thio Li-Ann, and Dr Kevin Tan ’86 spoke on panels; and I was asked to give some closing remarks. These formed the basis for a Straits Times op-ed about the rule of law, which you can read here.
We recently held our annual Open House at Law School. Throngs of prospective law students came to learn about the study and practice of law, grilling current students, faculty, and of course the Dean about our undergraduate programmes.
In my address to the school-leavers (and their parents) I tried to encourage them to think about more than just how to get into Law School. In particular, I urged them also to focus on why they wanted to study law.
The reality, of course, is that many people discover their true calling to the law only some years after they start their degree — or even some years after graduating.
Enhancing the student experience
At my first Town Hall meeting with students, I asked what they thought their main memory of NUS Law would be ten or twenty years from now. The clear majority said some variation of “study”.
Of course, Law School should offer rigorous training in the law, but university should also be a transformative phase in one’s life. It should open horizons as well as doors. This insight lay behind the creation of the new position of Vice Dean for Student Affairs, and will also inform our forthcoming curriculum review. We will continue to offer the finest legal education that we can, but at the same time we want students to have space to find their own calling to the law.
In addition to the student Town Hall event, we held our first faculty retreat in two years. As well as fostering a sense of community, this has laid the foundations for the development of our strategic plan and produced important insights into the curriculum review, enhancing student life on campus, and advancing our research agenda.
Even as we approach exam season, a good number of our students have remained active outside their studies.
Like many colleagues, I attended this year’s Law IV musical, put on by the final year students. And, like my colleagues, I winced slightly at the way in which a store that rented out video cassettes was seen as emblematic of a bygone era…
I was also delighted to see our Jessup Mooting team victorious in the national rounds, an event held in the actual Court of Appeal before Justice V.K. Rajah ’82, Attorney-General Sundaresh Menon SC ’86 and Philip Jeyaretnam SC. They now go on to Washington, DC, for the international finals.
In other competition news, Marcus Lim ’12 and Andre Tan ’11 won the Group Trophy Award in the Competitions Category at the Student Achievement Awards 2012, recognising their victory in last year’s International Negotiation Competition. They are featured in our Student News section this issue, which you can read here.
And in the recent Oxford IP Moot, our team of Chua Xinying ’13, Lee Huiyi ’12 and Tee Su Mien ’12 reached the semi-finals, with Huiyi winning the coveted Best Individual Speaker prize.
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Moving with the times
There are many more achievements that I could mention, but I will try to limit my longer letters to once a year. This is therefore merely a snapshot of what goes on at NUS Law. If you have a Facebook account, one way to receive periodic updates on our activities is to “like” our new page: www.facebook.com/NUS.Law