New Dean for NUS Law

Leading securities regulation scholar Professor Hans Tjio has been appointed as the next Dean of NUS Law with effect from 1 July 2021. He will succeed Professor Simon Chesterman as NUS Law’s 15th Dean.

“NUS is pleased that after a rigorous global search, Prof Hans Tjio has been selected as the next Dean of NUS Law. Hans’ wealth of experience and strong understanding of the evolving legal landscape places him in the best position to chart NUS Law into its next phase of development and steer the Faculty through the rapids and challenges brought about by digitalisation and the COVID-19 pandemic. I am confident that Hans will build on NUS Law’s success and raise its international standing in legal education and research,” said NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye.

A dedicated educator, Prof Hans Tjio has nurtured many decades of outstanding law students who have made incredible contributions in legal practice, politics and different spheres of society. He first joined NUS Law in 1990 as a Senior Tutor and has been teaching at NUS Law for more than 30 years, attaining full Professorship in 2006. In July 2019, he was appointed to lead NUS Law’s EW Barker Centre for Law and Business as its new Director.

Widely respected in the legal profession, Prof Tjio is an authority in company, securities regulation and trust law. He was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Singapore Exchange Listing Advisory Committee in July 2017 and has also been serving as a member of the Securities Industry Council since 2008.

Besides publishing his work extensively in international and local journals, he has also shared his expertise through international visiting professorships at National Taiwan University, University of Auckland, Shanghai’s East China University of Politics and Law, Stanford University and University of Melbourne. Currently, as consultant to TSMP Law Corporation, he advises on issues ranging from securities law compliance to cryptocurrency and cutting-edge issues in company law.

On his appointment, Dean-designate Prof Tjio said, “I am deeply honoured and excited to be accorded this opportunity to lead NUS Law at this moment in time when we have so much talent amongst my colleagues and our students.My goal is to facilitate all the incredible research that they are doing and continue the momentum of our previous Deans in driving interdisciplinary legal education and research alongside business, finance and technology. With the increasing pace of developments, Singapore requires much greater depth and sophistication than ever before among its academics, legal practitioners and business community.”

Prof Tjio shared further, “While it is a challenge, there is an opportunity to redefine what it means to be a lawyer. Even as litigation is important for the real economy today, future opportunities for the lawyers we educate are also found in advisory or transactional work, government, business development, regulatory compliance, non-governmental organisations and, as we have seen most recently, in some of the top leadership positions in our largest corporations and funds.”

He added that he hopes to reach out to some of NUS Law’s most successful graduates and engage them to help formulate different career pathways for students.

Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean of NUS Law, said, “Serving as Dean of NUS Law has been the highlight of my professional life. I’m deeply grateful to the colleagues who have worked so hard to build NUS Law into what it is today, and the students whose energy and enthusiasm remind us daily why we come to work. I also want to thank our alumni, whose achievements spur the rest of us on.”

Prof Chesterman considers it a privilege to have partnered with the government, judiciary, and legal profession to position Singapore as a thought leader in the region and the world, given the centrality of the rule of law to Singapore’s success.

“I’m thrilled to be passing the torch to Hans Tjio — a distinguished teacher and scholar, as well as a thoughtful and empathetic leader. And I’m excited to see where he takes us next.”

See press release.

The right person for the job

Offering their first congratulations to Prof Tjio are top corporate lawyers Ms Stefanie Yuen Thio, Ms Sophie Mathur, and his former student, Senior Counsel Lee Eng Beng.

Ms Stefanie Yuen Thio
NUS Law alumna
Joint Managing Partner, TSMP Law Corporation

“I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to Prof Hans Tjio on his appointment as the next Dean of NUS Law. Hans is one of those rare individuals, at once very knowledgeable in his area of legal expertise, yet very up to date on commercial and corporate developments. His scholastic achievements and international stature have garnered him deep respect in academic, regulatory and corporate circles.

As the head of Asia's Global Law School, Hans will be building on the legacy of Prof Simon Chesterman, under whose watch NUS Law was recently named one of the world's top 10 law faculties, an incredible achievement. Simon himself took over from Prof Tan Cheng Han who laid the important foundation for the faculty's increased global orientation and inter-disciplinary focus during his four terms as Law Dean.

Personally, I have known Hans for coming to three decades. He is a consultant at TSMP Law Corporation, as was Cheng Han, and is our first port of call on a thorny corporate or securities law problem. Hans is unfailingly generous in sharing his time and his prodigious expertise, and modest to a fault. I can already see the self-deprecating furrow of his brow as he reads this article and my comments.

My partners and I – as Hans' colleagues, friends and alumni of NUS Law School – look forward to celebrating his achievements as the new Dean, although this will probably mean he will have less time to work on his killer running backhand on the tennis court (another talent he would be quick to deny). Congrats, Hans!!!"

Ms Sophie Mathur
Partner, Asia Head of Corporate, Singapore, Linklaters

“Hans is a respected scholar and a great thinker who I am sure will lead NUS Law into the next phase of its evolution, building on the good work that Simon has done since 2012. His stature in the legal community (within both academia and the profession) makes him the ideal person to lead Asia’s Global Law School.”

Senior Counsel Lee Eng Beng
NUS Law alumnus
Senior Partner of Rajah & Tann Singapore

“Hans remains as humble, approachable, committed and objective as when he taught me about trusts in 1991. The years of producing top-quality academic output, the wide affirmation in the legal profession of his intellectual prowess and thought leadership, and the admiration of generations of students have not changed him one bit. Congratulations to the Faculty of Law for the appointment of Hans as its new Dean!”


Outstanding achievements to mark a Deanship

Prof Simon Chesterman has led NUS Law as Dean since Jan 2012.

Helming NUS Law for nearly a decade since 2012, Prof Chesterman has steered NUS Law into new heights. In legal education, he has spearheaded many enhancements - including introducing increased Asian and civil law content into the curriculum; providing law students with more experiential learning opportunities through the Centre for Pro Bono & Clinical Legal Education; and launching the Juris Doctor, a graduate law degree programme, last year.

In line with NUS’ commitment to lifelong learning, he also established a new NUS Law Academy in 2018 to offer skills-based, industry-relevant courses for legal professionals. Earlier this year, he announced a pilot initiative to increase opportunities for students with diverse backgrounds and skills to study law.

In legal research, Prof Chesterman has championed a sea change and strengthened Singapore’s claim to be a global legal hub, including the setting up of six new research centres on topics ranging from Maritime Law and Legal Theory to Artificial Intelligence.

His work on international law have also opened up new areas of research on conceptions of public authority – in cluding the rules and institutions of global governance, state-building and post-conflict reconstruction, the changing role of intelligence agencies, and the emerging role of artificial intelligence and big data. The author or editor of 19 books on law, he is also an avid writer of young adult mysteries - Raising Arcadia (2016), Finding Arcadia (2017), Being Arcadia (2018) and I, Huckleberry (2020) – after being inspired to write stories that his children can read.

Prof Chesterman will be taking a long-delayed sabbatical before returning to teaching and research in NUS Law as a senior faculty member. He will continue to contribute thought leadership in areas such as the regulation and governance of artificial intelligence, mentor younger faculty members, and raise the global standing of NUS Law to new heights of excellence.

NUS President Prof Tan expressed his deep appreciation to out-going Dean Prof Simon Chesterman for his vision and dedication. He said, “Under Simon’s stewardship, NUS Law has cemented its position as Asia’s Global Law School where it is now ranked the top law school in Asia and has risen to 10th in the world in the latest QS World University Rankings 2021, and 12th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021 by Subject. He has also raised NUS Law’s status as a leading legal research hub and thought-leader in many areas of legal research.”

Prof Chesterman had carried on the proud tradition of the Faculty which goes back more than 50 years.

Since the establishment of the Department of Law in the then University of Malaya (predecessor institution of NUS) in 1956, NUS Law has produced many successful and notable graduates. The pioneer class of law students graduated in 1961, among them its most illustrious members being its former Dean and Ambassador-at-Large Professor Tommy Koh, former Singapore Chief Justice Dr Chan Sek Keong, former Dean Thio Su-Mien, and Emeritus Prof Koh Kheng Lian. Today, it is widely regarded as Asia’s leading law school, producing some 240 graduates each year, where many have gone on to occupy the ranks of the judiciary, government, academia, private practice, business, the arts and media communities as well as almost every niche of professional life in Singapore. Some notable figures are Singapore’s first female President and NUS Chancellor Madam Halimah Yacob, Law Minister K Shanmugam, Singapore’s Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, SMU Law Dean Prof Goh Yihan, playwright Mr Ivan Heng and Ms Priscilla Shunmugam, Founder and Designer of Ong Shunmugam.