Welcome Message from Chairperson, Young Lawyers Committee
To my newly minted Learned Friends: Congratulations on getting called to the Bar! I know how tough it has been getting through law school, your training contracts as well as the Bar exam but you’ve finally done it and have been admitted to the Bar! It’s time to celebrate!
I can imagine how odd things must have been for you in the last couple of years with the COVID-19 pandemic and the country-wide lockdown. I cannot even fathom how and what attending classes remotely was like, or how effective your training was, given the lack of opportunities that your other Learned Friends would have benefitted from by being in the office. Unfortunately, I think the biggest disadvantage (or advantage for those who may have court fright!) would be the fact that hearings, PTCs and even meetings are still taking place remotely.
I say unfortunate because it is an extremely different experience being able to attend court in person. When you are in court, you get to observe other members of the Bar discuss matters with one another while waiting for your case to be heard. If you happen to attend a PTC or hearing in open court, you would also have the benefit of watching senior and junior members of the Bar alike argue their cases. You get to observe their conduct and take on the arguments which they make. You also get to see the different strategies used and can observe the body language and demeanour of various members of the Bench which believe me, will go a long way in preparing you for when it’s time for you to take conduct of your own matter!
The other thing you get to do is to meet your opposing counsel which gives you the opportunity to get to know them and size them up a little. Trust me on this, it makes all the difference in the world when you’re familiar with someone you’re going up against! The camaraderie is the one thing I miss most in practice and I do hope you get the opportunity to do so in the future.
Rest assured, I want you to know that the Young Lawyers’ Committee will be here for you to help you through this process. You are always free to reach out to us if you need a listening ear or a point in the right direction. We have organised and will continue to organise meet ups for young lawyers to give you the opportunity to meet one another – it is a good way for you to network and more importantly, when speaking to others and sharing your war stories and battle wounds in the office and in court, you are reminded that you are not alone in the trenches!
Until we get an opportunity to meet in person, I have set out a list of things that will hopefully give you some guidance as you start your practice:
- Take on whatever matter you are assigned and always look for opportunities to hone your craft. It is good to try out as many different areas of law early on in practice. By having these experiences, you will be surer of the area that you wish you specialise in.
- VOLUNTEER! You can consider volunteering at the community legal clinics or taking on pro bono work. Not only are you giving back to the community, volunteering is also a very good opportunity for you to handle cases on your own and have direct face time with clients which you may not be able to do, especially if you are in a bigger firm. I have personally also found that legal clinics are a good way for you to test yourself – it’s almost like an open book exam and you never know what problem you are being given to solve! Don’t worry, you are usually given a case brief in advance and you will have time to do a bit of research if the need arises.
- All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. This cannot be more true. Practice is tough and very gruelling. You need to give yourself a break from time to time and have a good support system. I have found it particularly useful to socialise and network with other lawyers – they can and will give you the support and help you need!
- Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. Know that we are all in this together and there are also numerous schemes available to you that you can consider:
Members’ Assistance & Care Helpline – the helpline is like a triage and will point you to the right programme and schemes which are available to you.
Relational Mentorship Scheme – you are paired with a senior lawyer who will speak with you and give you guidance in your career.
Young Lawyers Mentors Scheme – this is an informal scheme where you can be paired with young lawyers within the Young Lawyers’ Committee to speak about any issues which you may be facing in practice.
LawCare – this is a confidential counselling service provided by the Law Society of Singapore in conjunction with Counselling Perspective Pte Ltd.
- Practice is going to be a long road so remember to pace yourself.
Congratulations again my Learned Friends and I wish you all the best in practice!