Darren Tan

When Darren Tan was called to the Bar last year, he had a nagging fear that someone would disrupt the ceremony. “As I was standing there to be sworn in, there was this sense of uneasiness that someone might jump to his or her feet to object,” says Tan. When he was younger, he had spent nearly 11 years in and out of prison for gang- and drug-related offences, and received 19 strokes of the cane.

It was at 23 that he decided to turn his life around and pursue the more “honourable” path of becoming a lawyer, says the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law alum.

Tan’s Mass Call ceremony went without a hitch and he is now a commercial litigation and dispute resolution lawyer at TSMP Law Corporation. He is also co-founder of Beacon of Life Academy — which helps at-risk youth — and a director of Tasek Jurong, a non-profit organisation that provides seed money for social enterprises that support the marginalised.

His advice for youth trapped in the web of crime: “Your life up to this stage does not determine your future and you have the power to create the future you desire.”