NUS Law celebrates 60 years of legal education

20 October 2017 | EducationGeneral News
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Asia’s leading law school commemorates Diamond Jubilee with special anniversary book and new financial support for law students

The National University of Singapore Faculty of Law (NUS Law) today celebrated 60 years of legal education in Singapore with an anniversary dinner which was attended by The Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Supreme Court of Singapore, 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.

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

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 to 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.

NUS Law - From humble beginnings to Asia’s leading law school

Founded in 1956 as the Law Department of the University of Malaya in Singapore, NUS Law accepted its first undergraduate cohort in 1957 — including Ambassador-at-large Professor Tommy Koh, Singapore’s former Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong and Emeritus Professor Koh Kheng Lian, 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 (Class of 1978), Minister for Law K. Shanmugam (Class of 1984), Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon (Class of 1986), actor and playwright Ivan Heng (Class of 1988), co-founder and CEO of Razer Inc Tan Min-Liang (Class of 2002), and fashion designer Priscilla Tsu-Jyen Shunmugam (Class of 2006).

For more information on the history of NUS Law, please visit:

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

Written by legal historian Dr Kevin Tan, who is an adjunct professor with NUS Law and an alumnus of the school (Class of 1986), 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 partnering top universities overseas, offering a wide range of cutting-edge courses as well as inter-disciplinary and joint degree programmes, and supported by research centres that reinforce Singapore’s growing reputation as a leading legal hub in the region. Please refer to the Annex for a synopsis of the book.

NUS Law Student Support Fund

In conjunction with the celebration of its 60th Anniversary, NUS Law established the NUS Law Student Support Fund to provide more assistance to law students.

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.

Prof 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 per cent 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.”

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.