Focus on Our Fellows

July 3, 2015
Category: Uncategorized

Our legal fellows drive JWB’s work. This summer, we are lucky to have fourteen Legal Fellows join us, working in either Singapore or Hong Kong. All of our fellows are currently in law school, and have joined us in the fight against labour exploitation and human trafficking.  Two of our fellows have volunteered with JWB since its beginning, and they took on increasing responsibility as Senior Legal Fellows. We are also glad to welcome Nirupa Narayan as our Pro Bono Legal Advisor.

We will introduce just a few of our fellows this issue, but we would like to thank our entire team for donating their time, energy and knowledge to helping us develop the knowledge, knowhow, and test litigation to make just compensation available to victims, regardless of where they happen to be. Together, we have made incredible progress in the last two months alone, and their work sets the stage for the next year in their jurisdictions and in the countries our clients call home.

Justice Without Borders Summer 2015 Legal Fellows

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Hong Kong

Stephanie Chan (4th Year)

Jonathan Lam (1st Year)

Fiona Li (4th Year)

Stephanie Lok (4th Year)

Catherine Tsang (3rd Year)

Anson Wong (1st Year)

Tiffany Wong (1st Year)

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Singapore

Felix Halimawan (1st Year)

Kenji Lee (1st Year)

Misa Mitsugi (2nd year)

Jaga Naidu (2nd Year)

Isaac Tay (1st Year)

Sonia Vijendran (1st Year)

Charmaine Yap (2nd Year)

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This issue, we focus in depth on three of our legal fellows, Jaga, Catherine, and Kenji.

JAGA NAIDU

0What year are you in? Tell us about your studies.

I am a rising year 3 law student from NUS.

How did you get involved in migrant workers’ access to justice?

I heard about JWB and its work through a friend, and I was appalled at the lack of legal resources that migrant workers were able to access, as well as the deplorable behaviour of employers that took advantage of powerless employees. With JWB, I found an outlet to provide my assistance, to those who needed it.

What work have you done with JWB?

I have been mainly involved in an illegal kickbacks case which we have been following from its beginning. My job scope involves interviewing the client, collating evidence received from the client and doing basic research for the lawyers engaged, for the case. Other than that, I help out with research pieces such as for our case triaging project.

What has been the most interesting part of the work? What has been the most challenging?

The most interesting part is being involved in live cases where you help the client and pro bono lawyers from the beginning. I guess what fascinates me most is the level of humanity that goes into the evolution of the case. It is heartwarming to see the efforts of the lawyers in the pursuit of justice, especially when doing it pro bono.

As a part of JWB, I have been fortunate to understand the undercurrents of legal proceedings. While sometimes, it might be physically taxing and mentally draining, I would say that the challenge has opened my eyes to the complexities of being a lawyer, and has made me more determined to continue helping migrant workers in their access to justice.

What is your favourite break from studying and work?

I love to catch up on shows like Suits or Devious Maids after work or studying. I also love to try out new restaurants and cafes during the weekends. I love to read too.

CATHERINE TSANG

1What year are you in? Tell us about your studies.

I will be a 4th year LLB student in the coming semester.

How did you get involved in migrant workers’ access to justice?

I learned about the issue from Professor Lindsay Ernst, and she told me about JWB’s summer legal fellowship.

What work have you done with JWB?

Our team has edited the legal memos covering most major legal issues facing MDWs. We meet with our law firm partners on a weekly basis, where we receive feedback and discuss the legal issues we have identified. Recently, we had the opportunity to attend a trial hearing at the Labour Tribunal. A worker sued for unpaid holiday compensation and payment in lieu of notice of termination. Sadly, it seems to us that there is a high burden of proof threshold for MDW claimants.

What has been the most interesting part of the work? What has been the most challenging?

The trial hearing at the Labour Tribunal. This is because we can know what actually happens in a labour claim, and we can get involved assisting the union representative in drafting the closing statements.

KENJI LEE

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What year are you in? Tell us about your studies.

I’m going to embark on the 2nd year of my LLB programme in the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law in the coming semester and am looking forward to it!

How did you get involved in migrant workers’ access to justice?

Prior to law school, I had no knowledge nor awareness of the legal issues facing migrant workers in Singapore or even in the South-East Asian Region. My first contact with migrant workers’ issues come from a NUS Pro Bono Group (PBG) project – Law & You in collaboration with HOME, with the aim of educating the foreign domestic workers in Singapore on their rights. Following which, I applied for a summer fellowship with Justice Without Borders and got fully involved in work relating to migrant workers over the summer break.

What work have you done with JWB?

Over the summer break, I have assisted mainly with the legal research and ongoing cases as well as the publicity materials for JWB.

With respect to strategic legal research, I embarked on the research on the legality of deductions made by employers to their employees’ salaries and its effect on the foreign employees while exploring the value of extra-jurisdictional illegality on local courts. I have also assisted in the two main JWB’s strategic legal research, namely Multiple Payment Provisions and In-Principle Approval. In the process of the summer fellowship, I have also been involved with the identification of suitable test cases amongst case files from our local partner organisations.

I have also laid down the publicity guidelines for social media and began revamping works on JWB’s website and Pamphlets so that people around the world can better understand the work that we do and even contribute their efforts and build long term partnerships to achieve a common goal – Just compensation to victims of labour exploitation.

What has been the most interesting part of the work? What has been the most challenging?

The most interesting and challenging part of the work comes during the client interviews that we have conducted with clients from our on-going cases, and from our partner organisations during the process of case identification. This is where as a law student, I can see the actual cases that we are working on, and the lives that we are impacting through our efforts despite. Furthermore, these cases often carry with it an emotional side, which comes as a novel experience to me. It serves as a reminder that the work that we do often impacts real lives and is certainly a refreshing take on my legal studies, which often portray such factual matrices only in a monotone fashion.

What is your favourite break from studying and work?

Swimming and Basketball. Otherwise just spending time in a cafe with my book and a cup of iced mocha and my Macbook.