Rajan Chettiar, lawyer

Rajan is the managing director of Rajan Chettiar LLC with a speciality in Family and Personal Law, and one of the earliest lawyers to become trained in mediation. Rajan is a great supporter of the pro bono movement and offers his legal services pro bono regularly. He is one of the first two collaborative lawyers in Singapore, and handled the very first collaborative case in Singapore in 2013. He is also a very active member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“IACP”). He is the co-chair of the Asia Collaborative Law Task Force under the auspices of the IACP.  

Besides legal work, Rajan is a very committed and dedicated volunteer and has been involved in the social services scene since 1990. He was a Board member of the Society for the Physically Disabled and is a legal advisor to the Centre for Family Harmony. Rajan is a regular contributor of the monthly column, Alter Ego in The Singapore Law Gazette. Rajan is a Barrister-at-law, Middle Temple. He graduated from law school in 1994 and has been in practice since 1997. Rajan has four passions in life – helping people, writing, cooking and baking.

This Letter is addressed to Rajan's younger self when he was just starting out in practice. 


Dear Rajan,

Life was difficult for you when you were growing up. Very few knew what you were going through. You felt you were different from others and could not relate to them. The shyness, the lack of confidence, the incessant worrying about everything and the lack of strong relationships in your life made day to day living a chore. Your life did not make sense. You did not know what happiness was. You had no other option but to continue living as best as you knew how. 

I can tell you now that that was perseverance. I am glad that you did not give up. The world we live in is complex. You were no different from others; you just thought you were weird. You started to experience life at its full core earlier than many others. What you did not know was that others too had their struggles and life was not any easier for them. They just did not show it. 

Being more sensitive and emotive than most people was a strange thing to you, more so when you were told that you should not have such feelings. You were to discover later that it was these qualities that helped you relate better with women. 

You wanted to be a social worker instead of becoming a lawyer. You cared a lot about others and started doing volunteer work at 25 when volunteerism was not as popular as it is today. You dreamed of a caring society in Singapore and 20 years later, it has come true.

You always believed in causes. The causes were much bigger than you and far ahead of their time. I am glad that you embarked on them as they gave you depth and meaning in life.

It was good that you became a lawyer, finally. You can now help and support people, which has always been important to you. Helping others is not always as altruistic and easy as it sounds, you will discover. You will have doubts about lawyering like many did and will do. There will always be days when you feel that the financial incentives do not compensate for the sacrifices of time and your personal life. The selling of coffee and cheese cakes will always appeal to you when you realise you make good cheese cakes one day. You will persevere in law practice as well. 

You will realise that life does not become easier. Your perception of marriage will be challenged. You will wonder whether long and happy marriages are possible. Your perceptions of life and your values will continue to be challenged.

Do not take life too seriously. Do not think too much either. Stop worrying as only then can you live life to its full extent. Be truly positive as it will give you strength to live. Happiness will come, even if you do not keep looking for it.

Finally, be kind to yourself. You deserve it. 

With love,

Your older self


This Letter was originally published in the June 2017 issue of The Singapore Law Gazette and is reproduced here with permission.

Eunice Chong, marketer and start-up girl

Breaking Bread with the Chief Justice