Faraaz Amzar

Faraaz Amzar
Deputy Registrar and Tribunal Magistrate at State Courts of Singapore

Alumnus, NUS Law

A lawyer’s passion for both learning and teaching

An average day for Deputy Registrar and Tribunal Magistrate Faraaz Amzar begins and ends with tribunal cases.

If he’s not in his chambers hearing witnesses or parties, he’s probably in his office going through a sizable stack of documents so he’s well-prepared for every foreseeable eventuality. The goal is to never be caught off guard during the proceedings.

“You have to be prepared for the unexpected during the hearing, and if the law is a little unclear on certain issues, you have to read up on that as well,” he explains.

To end his day, he drives over to NUS in the evening and teaches the first-year module Legal Analysis, Research and Communication at NUS Law. Doubling up as a magistrate and law lecturer might sound exhausting, but for Faraaz, teaching is the least stressful part of his week.

In fact, he finds it quite refreshing.

“It’s awesome to teach because it’s just so different,” he explains. “It’s great to be around young law students, who are all very curious and blue-eyed about the law.”

law-1aFaraaz teaching a class at NUS Law

“I also miss being a student in some ways. There’s constant intellectual satisfaction, and you are always learning things for the sake of learning.”

Not too long ago, in 2014, Faraaz himself was in the students’ seat as a law freshman.  A science student in junior college, he had been drawn to law because of its rigour.

“I was very into mathematics as well. I wouldn’t have minded Applied Math or Physics. Many people think the law is a place where judges just wave a wand and something happens, but it’s very logical and rigorous. It’s like mathematical rules, just expressed in words instead of notations,” he explains.

Upon entering NUS Law, Faraaz was pleasantly surprised to learn that he wasn’t the only science student on campus. The NUS Law community was evenly split between the polarities of arts and science, as well as the competitive and chill.

“It’s true that law students are often very outspoken and willing to challenge each other’s ideas, but you also get people who are very relaxed, fun and outgoing.”

The diverse community at the NUS Bukit Timah Campus was also matched by a stellar faculty that was equal parts knowledgeable and welcoming.

As an undergraduate, Faraaz won prizes like the LexisNexis Family Law Prize and the Thomson Reuters International Commercial Litigation Prize for scoring the highest marks in each subject. However, he insists that equal credit should be given to his professors for making those modules fascinating.

“Professor Leong Wai Kum made the Family Law and Practice class very interesting. It’s good to learn from someone who’s not just the leading expert in the field, but who also wrote the text for Singapore’s family law and jurisprudence. She’s a reservoir of knowledge.”

As for International Commercial Litigation, Faraaz still has fond memories of Emeritus Professor Tan Yock Lin, who could stroll into the lecture hall and deliver the entire lesson without so much as a single post-it note or PowerPoint slide for support.

“I loved his style, the way he could just speak about the law with such depth and passion for such a long period of time,” he recalls with evident awe. “He thinks about the law in a very unique way that you or I would never consider.”

“It would be great if I could teach like that, but I think I still need my notes,” he adds with a laugh.

Faraaz also had the chance, in his first two years, to study criminal law and constitutional law. Although they’re less relevant to his current role as a magistrate, Faraaz relished the opportunity to satisfy his intellectual curiosity.

“I enjoyed constitutional law because it’s more than just law. There’s a broader socio-political context behind it that’s extremely interesting,” he explains.

“As for criminal law, it’s the only field of law you would encounter before legal training and in a way, it’s the most human field of law because it deals with matters of personal liberty.”

His skills would also be burnished outside the classroom. For most of his undergraduate life, Faraaz gave private tuition and taught some classes at the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA). Although balancing work and academics was challenging at times, Faraaz believes the experience of giving back to the community has helped him as much as it has aided his students.

“Teaching makes you more confident when you are young. You learn not just how to be confident in front of groups, but also how to speak and how to get your point across,” he says.

A different hands-on opportunity came in the form of the various mooting competitions that NUS Law students regularly participate in. As a student, Faraaz had the chance to travel to Bangalore for the International Trade Association Intellectual Property Moot Competition, which features the best state universities from all over India.

Although his team delivered a fine performance and reached the semi-finals, what Faraaz remembers most was not the presentation itself, but the chance to interact with India’s legal community – both present and future.

“The arguing, you can do anywhere,” he argues. “But it was very fun to travel as a team and stay in the same accommodation. We were the only foreign team, so there was quite a bit of curiosity. We made a lot of new friends and even met some Indian judges.”

In 2018, Faraaz graduated from NUS with a first-class honours degree. He remembers it as his proudest moment as a law student, but at the same time, he knew that he would miss his time in NUS. He loved the journey of learning he enjoyed there, as well as the close friendships forged along the way.

“You get to see your friends on a daily basis. After class, you can get lunch or just grab a croissant, wander around and talk,” he tells us. “Even now, we still meet fairly regularly to get drinks or dinner.”

law-1bFaraaz reminiscing his life in NUS Law

It is also the advice he would give to new law students: Whilst it’s not impossible to be a lone wolf, don’t lose sight of the bigger things. Don’t forget to enjoy learning, and to find a group of friends who share and support your passion.

“Be open and connected. Surround yourself with great people. You need a good group of friends who will encourage you and be there with you on the journey.”