Oral History Collection

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Date of Interview



Patricia Meyer


Singapore Management University, SMU, Michael Furmston, Andrew Phang, National University of Singapore NUS, SMU law school, founding dean, history, university founding, beginnings, university administration, university admissions, university campus, faculty recruitment, faculty hiring, Low Kee Yang, Singapore faculty, international faculty, marketing, university curriculum, law research, interdisciplinary research, Islamic law and finance, Centre for Dispute Resolution, Bachelor of Laws degree, Juris Doctor programme, student internships, new building, Armenian Street, college teaching, innovation, City Campus, community engagement, case method, pedagogy, student development, non-passive learning, creative thinking, decision making skills, confident graduates, autonomous university, successful experiment, quality of graduates, American-style education


The interview covered: first involvement with Singapore and SMU, challenges and opportunities for the law school, faculty recruitment, law research, job opportunities, relationship with legal communities, internships, law building, future developments, dispute resolution.


Founding Dean, School of Law, SMU, 2007–present

Professor Michael Furmston became the founding dean of the School of Law in August 2007. The second law school in Singapore, SMU’s undergraduate law programme has been noted for the significant proportion of business and finance courses. Its first students graduated in July 2011. In 2009, a postgraduate law programme was introduced, the juris doctor. During Professor Furmston’s tenure the number of law faculty nearly doubled and two law centres were launched—The Centre for Dispute Resolution and the International Islamic Law and Finance Centre, a collaboration with SMU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business.

An internationally respected authority on contract and commercial law, Professor Furmston has taught law for over fifty years. He began his career in the UK at the University of Birmingham, and then taught at Queen’s University of Belfast and at the University of Oxford before moving to the University of Bristol in 1978. He served as dean of the faculty of law at the University of Bristol for two terms, and also served as pro vice-chancellor from 1986 to 1989. He retired in 1998 and was appointed emeritus professor and senior research fellow at Bristol. Following his retirement he taught at the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney in Australia.

Professor Furmston is a member of the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law working group on international commercial contracts law. He sits on the editorial boards of contract law and construction law journals. He has also written books and articles on the contract law, commercial law and construction law. For the last thirty years he has been the editor of Cheshire, Fifoot and Furmston Law of Contract. Professor Furmston was named as one of the ‘Ten Great Law Teachers’ in UK by the London Times in October 2007.

He studied law at the University of Oxford (UK). He was called to the bar at Gray’s Inn, London in 1960 and has been a bencher of Gray’s Inn since 1989. He was awarded an honorary doctoral degree by the Open University, UK in 2010.


Asian Studies | Higher Education | Higher Education Administration | Legal Education

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This is an abridged version of the original interview. Please contact Li Ka Shing Library at libIR@smu.edu.sg for access to the full version of the transcript and/or audio recording.

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