New law school building opens

  • Education
  • Sunday, 19 Mar 2017

The building’s iconic features are a pearl-shaped dome, which houses the Kwa Geok Choo Law Library. — The Straits Times/Asia News Network

LAW students at the Singapore Management University (SMU) will now have a building in the heart of the Civic District to call their own, complete with a dedicated moot court and a 500-seater law library.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong officially opened the 23,000 sq m School of Law building, located at the junction of Armenian Street and Stamford Road.

Since the start of the year, its doors have been open to the 730 law students and 46 faculty members, who previously shared facilities with SMU’s accountancy and business schools, which are now across the road from the new School of Law building.

The new building, which cost S$165mil (RM526mil) to build, was completed in December last year after 2-1/2 years of construction.

Among the building’s features are a pearl-shaped dome, which houses the Kwa Geok Choo Law Library, named in memory of the late Mrs Lee Kuan Yew, who is the prime minister’s mother.

In his opening speech, Lee shared with the 800-strong audience present that his mother, who was a conveyancing lawyer for over 30 years, kept a small personal library of law books in her office.

“Her constant companion was a dog-eared green hard cover book brought back from her student days in Cambridge. It was Law Of Property In Land, by Henry Gibson Rivington, which was then the leading authority in land law.

“My mother would have been proud to have a law library named after her,” he said.

Lee later toured the 2,200sq m, three-storey library, which will focus on developing special collections in commercial law, dispute resolution and Asean law, among other areas.

He also visited the new David Marshall Moot Court, which is named after the country’s first chief minister and one of its top criminal lawyers. Marshall died in 1995 at the age of 87.

A bust of Marshall, donated to SMU by his family in 2011, is now being displayed in the court.

Besides taking advantage of its state-of-the-art technology, students can also benefit from having a dedicated facility that simulates a real court, to better prepare for law competitions.

Third year law student Shriram Jayakumar, 24 said: “The mooting culture may be young in SMU, as we only started in 2010, but we’ve since managed to win 18 championships in global competitions.”

In addition, a new pro-bono centre in the law school will allow legal clinics conducted by volunteer lawyers and assisted by SMU law undergraduates to be held weekly.

Previously, due to space constraints, the legal clinics were held fornightly and housed in the school’s administration building.

In his speech, SMU president Arnoud De Meyer called the building “a real engineering achievement”.

SMU’s law school dean Prof Yeo Tiong Min said: “It is without a doubt that the new School of Law building will be a venue where legal minds will be able to meet, interact, network and collaborate.”

— The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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