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The Singapore Law Gazette

Amicus Agony

Dear Amicus Agony,

I am a young lawyer working in the litigation department of a large law firm. Often there are times when my partner insists that I have to be aggressive in my correspondence with opposing counsel to put up an act of being gung-ho and fierce for the client. However, I do not think that such approaches help clients or even the dispute, especially if the ulterior motive is for parties to resolve their differences through settlement. Or maybe the whole process of going through compulsory mediation is a farce, which I am not aware of. I need some guidance on how I should approach practice in such an environment, especially when the approach expected of me is not what I believe in.

Confused and disillusioned

Dear Confused and disillusioned,

I am sorry to hear about your plight. However, you can be rest assured that you are not alone in feeling this way, as many lawyers feel the same.

Some lawyers choose to move to another firm or work with a partner who better fits their ideology and style; some decide to make the switch to another area of law which is not as aggressive in nature; and some decide to pursue other passions as a result of this. Alternatively, you can have a talk with this partner to discuss the difference in styles and approaches to see how you can bridge the gap for a happier working relationship and experience.

Now that the markets are bad, you may wish to continue to hold on to your job just a little longer until job prospects improve again before you make the switch. In the meantime, you can channel your frustrations to other places – maybe pick up a new hobby, but still comply with the instructions given by your partner, while keeping a look out for new opportunities.

Yours sincerely,
Amicus Agony

Dear Amicus Agony,

I have realised that Intellectual Property law is not for me after all. However, I am trying to make the switch to another field but no one is willing to accept me as they think I do not have the requisite experience. What should I do?

Desperate young lawyer

Dear Desperate young lawyer,

I am sorry that you have found out that you have chosen the wrong career path. However, it is good that you found out earlier rather than later. Whilst there are some recruiters who strictly require some experience for jobs, there are many employers in the market who recognise that everyone has a starting point in something. Nobody is born knowing everything – these things are taught and learnt over the years.

If the field you are looking to move into is completely different, for example corporate law or in-house counsel, you may wish to entice them by showing them how eager you are to learn the ropes, and even offer to lower your PQE so that they do not have to pay you the same as your peers with experience in the field.

Here’s wishing you all the very best in your endeavours.

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.