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The Singapore Law Gazette

The Inner World

As the year was ending, the Wife wanted to look back at the events of the year together. She had one word to describe it – interesting.

For me, the year was about myself and both of us. As lawyers, we are always giving to others. We have little time for ourselves. We are busy spending most of our waking hours at work and engaging in many other activities that matter to us. In the process, we forget about ourselves and the people around us.

Focusing on myself started with being kind to myself. I realised that my life is more than tending to clients, to the Courts or to others around me. Treating oneself well is as important as treating others. Acknowledging feelings and understanding the reason for those feelings is the beginning of dealing with them. Spending time alone creates a silence within ourselves, an opportunity to listen to the inner self, to our thoughts and feelings. Listening to myself and being kind to my feelings and thoughts was soothing. Responding to my thoughts and feelings creates a sense of balance within myself. I stopped being a perfectionist, as I am then hard on myself. I embraced chaos and felt less of a need to have total control over my life. I also started to value time and getting the most out of it. Every single minute counts in a lawyer’s busy life. Planning is halfway to completing a task.

It is a journey of revelation to accept things which do not go the way I want them to or when loved ones, friends and colleagues do not act in the manner I expect them to.

My mother said, “Do not act as a lawyer or mediator. Just be my son.” Being a problem solver, I found it difficult to just be a mere son to my parents. My relationship with my parents has always been difficult for me, as much as it must be for them to have a short tempered and rebellious child. We have expectations of each other, which both did not fulfill. Accepting them the way they are has been difficult but is important for the future of the relationship.

Making time for each other has become more important to the Wife and I. As busy professionals caught up in the whirlwind of life, this has always been difficult and we forget each other’s needs and feelings. When and how do we give priority to our lives over our work and others? Why do we work so hard? Though we complain about work, we love, no, like, the work we do. We need to work less hard, we concluded. More leave and holidays next year? This discussion which led to decisions took place during lunch in Kruger National Park in South Africa earlier this year, done out of jurisdiction as always and decisions hardly enforced when we return home. Clearly, even taking life easier needs planning.

The perspective towards work has also changed this year. There is much talk about how lawyers should conduct themselves in their practice. There is hardly any consideration of the pressure and difficulties we face at work. Law practice is like climbing a mountain. It is continuously hard and a misstep will bring upon us client complaints and disciplinary proceedings. I got a clearer understanding why lawyers quit practice or why we behave in a certain way towards our clients. There were several occasions after leaving Court or after having dealt with a very difficult client over a long period of time when I felt that I was done with practice. Making an error in practice is so easy and it could happen to any of us. It is not a reflection of the lawyer personally but rather a reflection of how difficult practice is for us sometimes. There were some clients I decided to cease acting for to preserve my sanity.

We lament in our own circles about the little respect and understanding shown towards us by clients. Yet we keep on going and doing our best. We are competitive and operate in a taxing legal environment. Closer support and collaborating together to check and share information on clients and staff who move from a law firm to the other will help us to run our practices better and lessen work stress.

Complaints allow us to destress. Acceptance enables us to move on in life. This is the last issue of the print version of the Law Gazette and it goes online from 2018. Like many, I too feel sad about the end of the print version which was part of my entire law practice. I like to touch and feel what I read, which is why online reading or shopping is a big no for me. It is said that change is the only constant which life is full of.

And yes, I agree 2017 has been an interesting year, one full of discoveries and learning. I am excited about 2018 which will allow the Wife and I to live the life we wish to.

May 2018 be a happy and meaningful year to one and all.

Rajan Chettiar LLC
E-mail: [email protected]