Roslina Baba's Memories

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Born 1963 Advocate and solicitor from 1994 till present. “I wanted to be an English or Literature teacher as I loved the study of languages and the written word. But my father saw that I had the aptitude for higher education and said that I had to get a professional degree. In those days, that meant: medicine, law, engineering or accounting. When I was in pre-U (pre-university), the school took us to the Industrial Arbitration Court, and even though there were no lawyers there, the arguing of cases and the proceedings caught my interest. I decided that studying law wasn’t such a bad compromise. After all, law also has to do with language. I was part of the first batch of NUS (National University of Singapore) law students to spend all four years at the Kent Ridge campus. Although, the ratio of male to female students was about 50-50, I was the only female Malay student in that department. I was quite active in the Muslim Association. We organised talks and debates about philosophy, religion and current topics. During my final year, there was another group organising a petition against the quota for female Medical students, limiting their intake to something like 3 out of 10 students only. We felt this was discriminatory against women and so a group of students and lecturers got a petition together. The members of this group would eventually go on to become AWARE (Association of Women for Action & Research). After I graduated from Law school, I wasn’t too interested in joining the big law firms that mostly focused on corporate law. I felt I could help people as a lawyer, so I joined a small law firm in Geylang that did a lot of work serving the disadvantaged. I remember defending a hawker for just $300. It was a very small firm, comprising three partners, and only one pupil. Later on, one partner left to move overseas, another was on long-leave, so only my pupil-master and myself were left. I had only joined the workforce for about 18 months when my pupil-master was detained by the ISD. Suddenly, I found myself running the firm while also trying to handle my boss’s case. It’s not the usual pupilage experience that most young lawyers get, I can tell you! Eventually, the family of the detained lawyer decided to close down the firm so that she would not have to worry about it during her period of detainment and I wouldn’t have to run it by myself. After that, I went to London to pursue my Masters. I enjoyed my time in London and the work there was interesting too. But being Asian, you come back home when your parents ask you to, and mine did. I came back, and joined my present firm. I have been with them for the last 22 years."

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