During her time as an undergraduate student in the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Faculty of Law, Lin Shumin spent hours brushing up on the skills she knew would help her along with her career.
And today, those intense study sessions have paid off. Since graduating in 2008, Shumin has gone on to establish a 12-year-long career at one of Singapore’s leading law firms, Drew & Napier LLC.
Now a Director in Drew’s Dispute Resolution department, she gained recognition as one of Asian Legal Business’ 40 Under 40 lawyers in 2020. She is engaged in multiple pro bono cases, volunteers her time for non-law passion projects, and is also happily married to a fellow lawyer, NUS Law coursemate and Drew & Napier colleague Jared Chen.
Looking back on her time in NUS, the spirited Shumin cites the lifelong relationships she formed as the most valuable things she picked up during university.
“The people I met while at NUS are the biggest contributors to who I am today,” she says. In addition to meeting her current colleagues, and close friends while at NUS, Shumin also had the fortune of meeting her husband, Jared, while in NUS Law. “Jared was one year my junior,” Shumin says with a smile
Shumin’s (first from left) graduation day with Prof Tan Cheng Han, former Dean of the Faculty of Law (middle) and Jared Chen (right).
“Most of my friends and colleagues are from NUS. But it’s not just my friends; many of my opponents in court are also from NUS,” she laughs. “I also have senior batchmates who instruct me with my tasks, and other classmates who are now in-house lawyers, or working in related industries such as investigations or forensics work.”
She adds that the strong culture of peer-to-peer support at NUS helped make the long study sessions easier.
“I enjoyed university. From 12-hour study sessions in the library, singing along to the library’s closing song, and having bold and intellectually vigorous and fascinating discussions... It was fun,” she says.
These days, her average day sees her waking up early to tend to her two daughters before heading to work with her husband. There, she advises clients on litigation and arbitration matters, including civil disputes relating to commercial contracts, shareholders’ disputes, banking and finance, company law, and tort.
“It is a very demanding and exacting job,” Shumin says. “My work is adversarial - with everything I do, somebody else is going to poke holes in it or try to destroy it. When you go to court, your work gets scrutinised by the other side and constantly questioned by the judge. You need to be able to defend yourself and your work.”
Shumin (middle) with friends from law school turned teammates at work.
She usually clocks off work from 7:30pm to 10pm for her favourite time of the day: spending time with her family and tucking her children into bed. Then, she hops back onto the laptop or another work call.
“It can be quite stressful,” she admits. But while there may be a lot on her plate, Shumin wouldn’t have it any other way: “I’m grateful for every day,” she says.
Shumin makes it a point to put in 100% each and every day, at work and with her family. She recounts the time when she was 37-weeks pregnant and attended an overnight mediation. The mammoth task stretched on for 25 hours and lasted from nine in the morning till 10:30 the next morning.
“I was there with two gentlemen. One of them wanted to go home at midnight on the first day, but the mediator told him: if the pregnant woman can do it, so can you!” she recalls with a laugh.
Shumin also finds the time to take on pro bono cases to assist the underprivileged.
“One of my proudest work achievements to date is a pro bono case I handled for a young boy who underwent a failed knee surgery,” she said. “Fungus had started to form on the treated area, which affected the way he walked. However, his family couldn’t afford the legal fees, and didn’t know what to do.”
With Shumin’s help, both the boy’s family and the hospital were able to reach a settlement amount they were happy with. “Even though it wasn’t a ground-breaking law case, this pro bono case really left an impression on me because I could see how our help made a difference to him,” she recalls.
And that’s not all - in her free time, the go-getter with an altruistic streak donates her time to help raise awareness about in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) in Singapore. Shumin personally understands the tough struggles many go through in order to become mothers: “I got married at 24, and realised at 27 that I couldn't have children naturally. I went through IVF at 29,” she explains. “I remember having to jab the medication onto my belly - and I jabbed so many times, the marks resembled a smiley face!”
After a bout of struggles and a heart- wrenching miscarriage, Shumin eventually had two successful pregnancies through IVF.
Shumin (fourth from left) with her family and friends from law school.
Now, with a first-hand understanding of the acute pains and struggles of IVF, Shumin works with other volunteers to shed more light on the issue of infertility and IVF.
With a demanding law career, a budding family to build, and a cause close to one’s heart to support, it may sound like too much to have on one’s plate.
Nevertheless, Shumin believes in constantly putting in work to be the best that she can be.
“I just want to be the best mother, the best lawyer, the best employee, the best wife, the best friend,” she concludes simply with a smile.
(All photos in this story were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic, unless otherwise stated.)