NUS Law conferred two new awards — NUS Pro Bono Pioneer and NUS Pro Bono Mentor Awards — at the 2nd NUS Law Pro Bono Awards Ceremony on 1 March. The Pro Bono Leadership Award and Special Recognition Award were also presented, along with financial grants for four worthy pro bono projects.
The NUS Pro Bono Pioneer Award recognises NUS Law alumni who have been instrumental in kicking off sustainable pro bono projects while the NUS Pro Bono Mentor Award honours individuals beyond NUS Law who have been exceptional mentors and supporters of students working on pro bono cases.
NUS Law alumnus Mr Will Jude Vimal Raj was the recipient of the NUS Pro Bono Pioneer Award for his work in co-founding the Law & You programme together with Year 4 NUS Law students Daniel Lee and Chow Zhi Ying. The trio aimed to empower foreign domestic workers with legal knowledge so that they could better protect themselves. Mr Will Jude, currently a trainee police officer, said that they wanted to “have the domestic workers smiling at the end of the presentation”. He added that it was heartwarming to see importance being given to activities that serve the disadvantaged around us.
The inaugural Pro Bono Mentor Award was presented to NUS Law alumni Ms Hwang Soon Ae and Mr Jon Ong S W. During her stint at Rajah & Tann, Ms Hwang guided NUS Law students on the NUS Rajah & Tann Personal Data Protection Act Compliance Project to assist charities and voluntary welfare organisations in reviewing their documents and practices to ensure that they complied with personal data protection laws. As Registrar of Subordinate Military Courts and Military Court of Appeal, Mr Ong guided the members of the Military Justice Project closely on developing ways for NUS Law students to provide legal aid to accused individuals under military law, as well as to create resources on military law.
The awards ceremony also recognised NUS Law students’ leadership, commitment and dedication to pro bono work, with 10 students receiving the Pro Bono Leadership Award and five receiving the Special Recognition Award.
Two grants were bestowed during the ceremony. The RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Subhas Anandan Pro Bono Award was presented to the Criminal Justice Club, a student-led initiative which conducts pro bono work in criminal law. The NUS Law Class of 1992 Pro Bono Award, which provides grants of up to $2,500 to up to three sustainable pro bono projects, was presented to Syariah Law Forum, Military Justice Project and Innocence Project (Singapore).
NUS Law student Sheiffa Safi Shirbeeni, Director, Syariah Law Forum, spearheaded the initiative because she wanted to provide an opportunity for students and legal practitioners to learn about the processes of syariah law and how it is applied. The programme has benefitted 100 to 150 NUS Law students, NUS students from other faculties, as well as legal practitioners.
NUS Law Dean Professor Simon Chesterman said that pro bono work was important for NUS Law students as the projects enabled students to gain real-world experience of practising law. “And hopefully by being involved in pro bono work, our students can discover a sense of purpose and social responsibility as a legal professional and be aware of how they can make a difference to the lives of those in need of help,” he added.
See press release.