DARREN Tan, 35, is finally a full-fledged lawyer.
He reached that milestone over the weekend when he was called to the Bar during a mass ceremony at Nanyang Technological University.
It was a far cry from his shaky start in life when drugs and gang activities led to over 10 years behind bars and 19 strokes of the cane.
“This is the culmination of what I’ve been working towards for the last 10 years,” he said. “It’s like waking up from a dream and finding out your dream has become reality.”
His life of crime began at the age of 14, and he was in and out of prison for offences that included robbery and drug trafficking.
It was only when he was 25 and behind bars for the third time that his transformation took place.
He found God, and decided to make something of himself.
He resumed his studies with help from the prisons programme, re-learnt English, a language he had forgotten, and aced his A-Levels, scoring four As and a B, including an A1 for General Paper.
He was still in prison when he applied for law school, and became the first student with a criminal past to be admitted to the National University of Singapore law school.
Now, he has a job waiting for him. He did so well during his six-month practice training at TSMP Law Corporation that the firm has given him a permanent position as a commercial litigation and dispute resolution lawyer.
The firm’s joint managing director, Thio Shen Yi, said that while he had initially decided to take a chance on Tan, it had only been a six-month risk.
“He still had to earn his job. And he has,” said Thio.
“He is sincere; he has street smarts, maturity and EQ. You can see his transformation through his actions, and this resonated with us because we’re very much a firm that believes in giving back to the community.” — The Straits Times / Asia News Network