When Jordan Tan served as a Justices’ Law Clerk, he assisted the Court of Appeal in the case of Yong Vui Kong, who was given the then‐mandatory death penalty in 2008 for heroin trafficking. While lawyers typically have a month to prepare for a case, Tan only had four days to do so and was so sleep‐deprived that he crashed his car in the Supreme Court car park. However, he says, it was all worth it – Yong was eventually spared the gallows partly because of Tan’s efforts. “This was a moment that made me see the impact law can have on people,” he says.
Despite his kindness-first approach to law, Tan says dealing with people in difficult situations can be immensely challenging: “You take on their troubles as your own.” Still, he continues fighting the good fight. Outside of his litigation and dispute resolution practice, where he deals primarily with commercial disputes, Tan takes on public interest cases, including a recent one where a gay man sought to adopt his biological son who was born through surrogacy. The court’s landmark ruling that allowed the adoption to go through was heartening for Tan, who says that “it’s always about trying to give people a voice”.
Tan’s mentors include Senior Counsel Harpreet Singh Nehal, whom he describes as someone with “a real heart for the downtrodden”, and former Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong, “the deepest thinker I have ever met”.
As a member of the Singapore Academy of Law’s Professional Affairs Committee, he’s also working on an app that connects lawyers with too much work with young lawyers seeking more advocacy opportunities. Despite being excellent at his day job, Tan insists lawyering is not just about making money. “Pro bono matters,” he says, “are just as important.”
Tan is wearing the Panerai Submersible BMG-TECH — 47mm (PAM00692)