‘A life of meaning’ – influential Law Society of Singapore president dies, aged 57

Adrian Tan continued in his role despite undergoing treatment for cancer

Adrian Tan Image courtesy of The Law Society of Singapore

Tributes have flooded in for Law Society of Singapore president Adrian Tan, who has died from cancer, aged 57.

Tan received sympathy and support from fellow lawyers in Singapore last summer when he pledged to continue in the role despite undergoing treatment for cancer.

As president, the IP partner at TSMP Law Corporation supported greater access to justice, the need for continuing legal education and Singapore’s young lawyers. His strapline was to ‘make lawyering great again’, a project he pursued online to great effect by engaging in dialogue and addressing underlying wellbeing issues. 

Tan’s hinterland was broader than just IP law or legal practice itself. A skilled novelist, he was a masterful communicator with awards to his credit. He was a director at The Arts House and honorary legal counsel for the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped. 

His regular LinkedIn posts as the self-styled ‘King of Singapore’ on topics that spanned law and current affairs were witty, wise and avidly read. 

TSMP described him as “a wonderful colleague, a nurturing mentor and a loyal friend”. It added: “Throughout his illustrious 31-year career, Adrian made significant contributions to the legal industry, leaving an indelible mark on all those who had the honour of working with him.”

As his firm readily acknowledged, Tan was “one of Singapore’s most influential lawyers with a strong overall media presence, with over 39,000 LinkedIn followers,” a following of unmatched size among fellow bar association leaders internationally. 

TSMP Law joint managing partner Stefanie Yuen Thio said: “Adrian’s passing is a tremendous loss to the legal and broader community and to anyone who had the privilege of knowing him. The legacy that he leaves behind is a testament to his unwavering dedication to the legal profession and his tireless commitment to promoting justice and fairness for all.”

Tan joined TSMP in 2018, having previously been a partner at Morgan Lewis Stamford. Before working at Morgan Lewis, he was a director at Drew & Napier and worked in-house.

He was a litigator who specialised in IT, IP and data protection cases, as well as class actions and shareholder disputes, was widely regarded for his work as an advocate, using his academic background in computer science to inform his legal practice. 

As a director of Maxwell Chambers, Singapore’s leading dispute resolution centre, Tan helped steer its evolution to new virtual and physical possibilities by way of a signature move to prestigious new facilities and international online alliances. 

Maxwell Chambers said: “Adrian possessed a remarkable gift for touching the lives of others in ways that words cannot adequately express. He had endless empathy and a rare ability to connect with everyone for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.”

Dinesh Dhillon, a partner at Allen & Gledhill and fellow Law Society council member, wrote on LinkedIn: “Adrian was a friend to others and had a rare gift to tell their stories. Stories that made us see what was truly worthwhile as members of an honourable profession.” 

He quoted Tan’s own words: “When you leave this world if you have connected with other human beings, told their stories and enriched society, you will have lived a life of meaning. The goal is not to seek happiness for ourselves, but to provide it to others. That is a life of service, and I commend it to you.”

Tan is survived by his wife, Angelina, a civil servant.

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