When law professor Ng-Loy Wee Loon received a call telling her that she has been appointed a senior counsel, she thought it must have been a mistake as she did not apply for the title.
"Then I was told that this is not something that is conferred upon application... A true honour," said the National University of Singapore academic, whose main research interests lie in intellectual property (IP) law.
The 51-year-old was appointed honorary senior counsel in recognition of her special knowledge in law, and her contributions to the development of the law and to the legal profession, said a statement from the Singapore Academy of Law.
This is the second honorary appointment since the Senior Counsel scheme started in 1997.
The first, in 2012, was that of Singapore Management University's Professor Yeo Tiong Min.
Prof Ng-Loy's appointment, announced by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon yesterday at the Opening of the Legal Year, brings the number of senior counsel to 73.
The accolade is given to those with outstanding ability as advocates, extensive knowledge of the law and the highest professional standing.
The selection committee comprises the Chief Justice, Attorney-General V. K. Rajah and Judges of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Andrew Phang.
While her passion lies in teaching and research, Prof Ng-Loy has been appointed as amicus curiae (Latin for "friend of the court") to present her independent views on IP cases before the Court of Appeal.
These include a spat over the names of St Regis and Park Regis hotels, and a battle over the shape of chocolate bars between Kit Kat maker Nestle and Petra Foods.
Prof Ng-Loy, who is married to a lawyer and has two children in university, said she was honoured by the appointment, which was an "extremely pleasant surprise".
She did not think that being conferred the title will have a huge impact on her as she is not in practice. "For me, it will be as per normal."