NUS Law recognises students’ pro bono initiatives for community
New awards introduced to recognise alumni and mentors for founding projects and support to students
The National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Law today recognised 18 students, alumni and partners for their leadership and contributions in pro bono projects, and awarded financial grants to support four deserving pro bono projects at the 2nd NUS Law Pro Bono Awards Ceremony.
The awards for individuals were presented in four categories - The Pro Bono Leadership Award, Special Recognition Award, The Pro Bono Pioneer Award and The Pro Bono Mentor Award. The two grants presented to student pro bono projects were the RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Subhas Anandan Pro Bono Award and the NUS Law Class of 1992 Pro Bono Award.
Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean of the NUS Faculty of Law said, “I’m always pleased to see the immense efforts of our students who have tirelessly devoted their skills, time and effort to assist those in need. We are also especially proud today to recognise alumni who are pro bono pioneers and mentors, and external partners who have mentored our students.”
“Pro bono work is important for NUS Law students as these projects enable 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.
This year, NUS Law established two new awards – the Pro Bono Pioneer Award and the Pro Bono Mentor Award.
The Pro Bono Pioneer Award
The award recognises NUS Law alumni who were instrumental in founding pro bono projects that have led to sustainable and meaningful contributions by NUS Law students.
The inaugural 2017 Pro Bono Pioneer Award was conferred on Mr Will Jude Vimal Raj, an NUS law alumnus from the Class of 2016, for his work in developing the Law & You programme under Students 4 Migrants, a student group of the NUS Pro Bono Group that focuses on the legal needs of foreign workers in Singapore. The programme seeks to empower foreign domestic workers with a knowledge of the law so that they can protect themselves against abuse. Mr Raj led a team that conceptualised the legal education programme, recruited NUS Law students to deliver it, and was instrumental in running six workshops have been conducted for foreign workers in conjunction with the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME), the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST) and the Burmese and Indonesian Embassies.
The Pro Bono Mentor Award
This is awarded in recognition of any person who is an outstanding supporter of NUS Law students’ efforts in pro bono, including but not limited to acting as legally qualified supervisors on student pro bono activities.
Two mentors are recognised this year with this award for going above and beyond the call of duty to assist and inspire NUS Law students.
Ms Hwang Soon Ae, as a member of Rajah & Tann’s legal team specialising in Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), worked closely with NUS Law students on the NUS Rajah & Tann PDPA Compliance Project to assist charities and voluntary welfare organisations in reviewing agreements, documents and practices to bring them into compliance with personal data protection laws.
Mr Jon Ong S W, Registrar of Subordinate Military Courts and Military Court of Appeal, has been working with the Military Justice Project on developing avenues for NUS Law students to render legal aid to accused persons under military law, and to develop resources on military law.
Pro Bono Leadership Award
The Pro Bono Leadership Award recognises law students who have shown outstanding leadership and commitment towards pro bono work on a sustained basis, and whose contributions have led to significant developments in pro bono opportunities for law students.
This year’s award recipients include law students who have worked on migrant worker issues; raised legal awareness and knowledge among youths; as well as assisted voluntary welfare organisations in working with litigants to make court applications to be legal representatives of mentally incapacitated children.
The 2017 Pro Bono Leadership Award recipients are:
- Chan Jian Da, Kenneth (Innocence Project)
- Chua Jianjie, Alvin (NUS Pro Bono Group)
- Amelia Chew Sihui (NUS Pro Bono Group)
- Shawn Teo Kai Jie (NUS Pro Bono Group)
- Shaun Lim Sheng Kang (State Court Student Representative)
- Sng Kiat Peng (Allen) (Deputyship Programme)
- Lim Boon Xin (Deputyship Programme)
- Leow Wei Xiang Joel (NUS-Rajah & Tann PDPA Compliance)
- Pavithra Ramkumar (NUS-Rajah & Tann PDPA Compliance)
- Mark Teo Tzeh Hao (NUS-Rajah & Tann PDPA Compliance)
Special Recognition Award
This is awarded to students who have demonstrated a commitment to and passion for pro bono work in a sustained manner. Student leaders who receive this certificate have gone beyond the demands of their office to lead and inspire. Recipients also include students who have shown persistent effort, commitment and a passion towards providing quality pro bono services.
The 2017 recipients of the Special Recognition Award are:
- Ng Ming Zhong, Daniel (Military Justice Project)
- Teo Wei Ren, Marcus (Military Justice Project)
- Shawn Lim Jun Ta (Legal Awareness Talks)
- Wang Yufei (Ulu Pandan Legal Clinic)
- Khor Huifen Joy (Ulu Pandan Legal Clinic)
RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Subhas Anandan Award
This award is a tribute to the legacy of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s late Senior Partner – Mr Subhas Anandan, who was a prominent criminal lawyer in Singapore and a champion of pro bono work. Initiated in 2016, the award will provide S$25,000 over a period of five years to fund deserving pro bono projects or programmes initiated by NUS Law students. A cash award of up to S$5,000 will be given out yearly to support a deserving project.
This year, the RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Subhas Anandan Pro Bono Award 2017 was presented by Mr Rajan Menon, Founding Director, to the Criminal Justice Club, a student-led club established in September 2009 with the purpose to carry out pro bono work in the area of criminal law. Besides its Innocence Project founded in 2012, the Criminal Justice Club has expanded its activities to include Military Justice Project, the NPCC Law Course and various other projects relating to criminal law.
NUS Law Class of 1992 Pro Bono Award
This award was established in 2016 through a S$20,000 gift from the NUS Law Class of 1992. Each year, up to three awards of up to S$2,500 will be granted to support sustainable pro bono projects with a catalytic effect. These are projects that galvanise attention and efforts towards a worthy cause to which NUS Law students can provide significant contributions.
The NUS Law Class of 1992 Pro Bono Award was presented by the current Law Society President Mr Gregory Vijayendran, to the following three projects:
- The Syariah Law Forum - an awareness raising forum to educate law students and practitioners and engage the next generation of law students on Syariah law. It will tap on the experience of both Muslim and non-Muslim legal practitioners.
- Military Justice Project – the project has been serving as a bridge between the Singapore Armed Forces, lawyers and law students so that accused servicemen are able to obtain access to pro bono legal support.
- The Innocence Project (Singapore) – The project has been benefiting prison inmates who have already exhausted all legal avenues of appeal yet believe that they have been wrongfully convicted.
Please refer to the Annex for information on the awards and award recipients.
Pro bono work at NUS Law
NUS Law had always had student-led pro bono activities and it became more centralised with the setting up of the NUS Pro Bono Group, Singapore’s first student-run pro bono group, in February 2005. Pro bono work in the area of criminal law gained impetus with the establishment of the student-led Criminal Justice Club in September 2009. The NUS Pro Bono Group has since grown into a student organisation comprising over 200 law students and it has expanded its work to focus on legal issues relating to migrant workers. The Criminal Justice Club, on the other hand, has progressed from its Innocence Project, which is a student-led initiative that seeks to provide recourse to individuals who believe they have been wrongfully convicted of crimes, to new projects involving Military Justice.
In tandem with the development of student-led pro bono initiatives, NUS Law set up the Pro Bono Office (PBO) in September 2012 to oversee the implementation of the Mandatory Pro Bono Programme, which requires law students to fulfil 20 mandatory hours of pro bono work prior to graduation. PBO launched the online portal ‘Start Now Law’ in March 2014 to further encourage and enhance NUS law students’ involvement in pro bono activities.