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The Singapore Law Gazette

Amicus Agony

Dear Amicus Agony,

I am a fourth year associate who was convinced that I was suited for a career in law up until the point when I graduated.

Over the past few years, I realised that practice was not how I envisioned it would be. A substantial amount of the work that I am tasked to do is mindless (in my view), I rarely make it home for a meal and I often have to deal with unreasonable clients. I am wondering if it is too late to make a career switch and pursue my other passion in life, cooking, instead.

Wondering Wallie

Dear Wondering Wallie,

It is not uncommon for young lawyers to feel “burn out”. The factors that you have cited, namely, the nature of your work and long, unpredictable hours, are oft used to explain the hollowing out of the legal profession, in terms of its increasing scarcity of mid-career lawyers.

The crux of your particular issue, however, is whether these feelings, on your part, should be attributed to the legal profession, as a whole, or the work environment you are currently in.

If you feel that the work you are doing is not meaningful and that you need better work-life balance to remain in the profession, then you should seriously consider raising these issues to your boss directly or to a third party with your firm, such as the Ombudsman (if available) or Human Resources Partner.

If, however, such talks within your firm ultimately prove to be unproductive, you may wish to speak to your batch-mates and discuss whether they are facing similar issues. Are there other firms where you would feel more comfortable, in terms of a cultural fit, and could perhaps establish a career in the profession with a stronger sense of purpose and permanency? These are options worth considering before you decide to definitively rule out a career in legal practice and embark on an entirely different path.

Amicus Agony

Dear Amicus Agony

I am a first year associate and I am fortunate to be in a relatively good working environment – my bosses seem to like me and I get along well with my seniors. However, all is not well as my office roommate is utterly insufferable. She eavesdrops on my calls, interrogates me right after, takes up all our communal space and always appears sullen and unfriendly – I could go on ad nauseum. I often feel that being alone in the room with her amplifies my stress levels. Help!

Wrong Partnership

Dear Wrong Partnership,

Oh dear. But from the outset – take a step back and ask yourself if there is anything you can do to achieve a meeting of the minds.

The industry is known for its long hours and tough conditions. This may affect even the very best of us. Communication and empathy is key. Speak to your roommate clearly and constructively about things that are bothering you. She may well be unaware. A heartfelt conversation would allow her to better understand your concerns. It may be a great way to keep a line of communication going and possibly lead to better long-term roomie relations!

To put things into perspective – we all thought Infinity War was the most ambitious crossover event in history, but then the 2018 inter-Korean summit happened. I’m rooting for you!

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.