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The Singapore Law Gazette

Amicus Agony

Dear Amicus Agony,

I am a practice trainee in a mid-sized law firm. I have been working very hard since I joined, ever since RLT (Relevant Legal Training) days, and was very happy to be offered a contract by the partners, which I accepted without hesitation. This went a long way in easing my anxiety with regard to securing a job, and provided some affirmation that I have what it takes to become a lawyer.

However, I have recently been offered a “better” contract, with higher remuneration from a bigger law firm. Now I regret accepting the offer to stay in my current law firm. Is it okay for me to dishonour the agreement and accept this new offer instead? I am very conflicted as whilst it may not be the most responsible thing to do, I am worried that this opportunity may never present itself again.

Stressed-out trainee

Dear Stressed-out trainee,

Firstly, congratulations on securing a position as an associate. It is important for a lawyer to demonstrate honourable and responsible behaviour, and to act in good faith. Whilst getting more than one offer is a good affirmation of your ability and promise you show in the practice of law, it would not be a very desirable start to your career in law by reneging on an agreement; this might have deleterious effects on your reputation. One should always strive to be a respectable member of the profession and starting on this note would not bode well for you. 

Honour the contract, work hard and your efforts will not go unnoticed.

Yours sincerely,
Amicus Agony

Dear Amicus Agony, 

I am a first-year associate in a mid-sized law firm. I have been working extremely hard due to a manpower shortage in my firm, often clocking in six to seven days of work a week. I understand being a lawyer entails real hard work and dedication. However, I fear that I am taking on too much that I can reasonably handle, and I am at risk of a burn-out soon.

I find it hard to say no to new files that are being allocated to me, for fear of being portrayed as lazy or even trying to shirk responsibilities by the senior associates/partners. However, taking too many files compromises the quality of my work. I have tried to raise this before, but I have seen little success. Therefore, I am seeking your help on any tips to raise this topic effectively?

Candle burning assoc

Dear candle burning asscoc,

To set things in context, and as many senior lawyers would put it, hard work is a given.

Learning how to manage your SAs and partners is also a key skill that must be picked up if you intend to go far in the industry. A good lawyer not only has to be learned academically in law, but must also have management skills to manage upwards and downwards as well. This could mean having conversations about work allocation, to let the SAs or partners know that you are not shunning work, but have no choice but to prioritise another more pressing matter (e.g a trial that is taking place tomorrow). Each senior associate/partner is different and I would suggest that you take the time to get a better sense of their individual working styles. At the end of the day, you can’t please everyone, but it is important that you also position yourself well, to show your colleagues that you are indeed working hard and smart.

Yours sincerely,
Amicus Agony

Young lawyers, the solutions to your problems are now just an e-mail away! If you are having difficulties coping with the pressures of practice, need career advice or would like some perspective on personal matters in the workplace, the Young Lawyers Committee’s Amicus Agony is here for you. E-mail your problems to [email protected].
The views expressed in “The Young Lawyer” and the “YLC’s Amicus Agony” column are the personal views and opinions of the author(s) in their individual capacity. They do not reflect the views and opinions of the Law Society of Singapore, the Young Lawyers Committee or the Singapore Law Gazette and are not sponsored or endorsed by them in any way. The views, opinions expressed and information contained do not amount to legal advice and the reader is solely responsible for any action taken in reliance of such view, opinion or information.

The Law Gazette is the official publication of the Law Society of Singapore.