Using the law to do good for society
“As I am in a privileged position because of the many helping hands I have received in my life, I take the view that it is important to help others in ways that I can," said the Madam Kwa Geok Choo Graduate Scholar
While being a law student, Mr Joseph Lum (LLM’ 18) had the opportunity to witness the impact that legal proceedings have on the affected parties and their families. His involvement in the Innocence Project as an undergraduate student provided him the opportunity to investigate cases involving wrongful convictions. These various experiences left an indelible impression on him and sparked an interest in him to help people with his legal knowledge. It reminded Mr Lum of how important it is to use his legal knowledge to contribute to society, just like the late Madam Kwa Geok Choo, a prominent Singaporean lawyer and spouse of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) Law alumnus is a recipient of the Madam Kwa Geok Choo Graduate Scholarship, which supports the best and brightest students in their pursuit of graduate studies at NUS Law.
When asked to share how Madam Kwa has inspired him, he shared, “Madam Kwa is an extremely inspiring figure in so many aspects. One of the many areas that stood out to me was her intelligence and foresight in drafting the clauses guaranteeing our water supply from Malaysia in the Separation Agreement. Without Madam Kwa's contribution, Singapore would have been in a much more vulnerable position.”
Now a practising lawyer at the law firm Lexcompass LLC, Mr Lum has not forgotten his original motivations behind pursuing a legal career. He is a registered volunteer Defence Counsel with the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme and the Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences.
“As clichéd as it sounds, I was moved towards being a lawyer as I perceived that a lawyer has the power to make a positive difference to people,” he elaborated.
Although Mr Lum sees being a volunteer as a small and ordinary act, it is something necessary to facilitate access to justice in society. This is his way of paying it forward.
Thanks to the Scholarship he received, Mr Lum was able to enroll in the NUS Master of Laws programme. The Scholarship allayed his concerns about tuition fees and the loss of income, as well as his career progression.
“I am where I am today because of the sacrifice, efforts, and graciousness of many. As a beneficiary of a scholarship, I was given a helping hand to pursue something that I could not have done without the financial assistance,” Mr Lum acknowledged, sharing his gratitude for the support he had received which has helped to shape him into the legal professional that he is today.
Mr Lum strongly believes in the transformative power of giving, and hopes to continue making a difference to the lives of those who may be in need. He affirmed, “As I am in a privileged position because of the many helping hands I have received in my life, I take the view that it is important to help others in ways that I can."