Image Alt

The Singapore Law Gazette

Amicus Agony

Dear Amicus Agony,

I am quite happy which my current firm which I have been with for six months since getting called to the bar. My hours are decent and I like my colleagues and bosses etc. However, I simply do not enjoy litigation and unfortunately my current firm does not have a corporate department. I have been offered a position by another firm to do corporate work but I am unsure of whether I will be happy if I move to this firm. Should I take the risk by moving to this firm or should I stay with my current firm even though I do not enjoy litigation?


Dear Associate-in-Dilemma,

This is indeed a real dilemma to have. Whilst in the long run, it may not make sense for you to continue doing something you do not enjoy, I would suggest in my humble opinion that you give it another six months to a year. After all, it has only six months since you have been called to the bar. You might actually grow to like litigation. If you are still convinced thereafter that litigation is not for you, you would still be junior enough to switch practices. As you rightly pointed out, there are always risks in moving to a new firm and that is an important factor to be taken into account when you weigh your pros and cons, especially given that you are happy with your current firm (aside from the fact that you do not like litigation). I hope whichever decision you make works out for you in the end.

Amicus Agony

Dear Amicus Agony,

I am in my fourth year of practising law in a medium-sized law firm and much to my surprise, my managing partners have promoted me to a partner instead of realising that I am actually a moron hoping nothing screws up under my watch!

As much as I am elated with the promotion, I have been tasked with management responsibilities on top of the legal work that I do. The problem is however, no one actually listens to me whenever I give directions. This is especially so with the lawyers who are of similar post-qualified experience in the firm. When this happens, I have to do the work because nothing else would be done.

I really do not want to relive my first year associate days where I practically stayed in the office 24/7 because no one helped me. Back then, I even contemplated going to the police station to change my address to reflect my office’s address. Help!

Rather Hentak Kaki Senior Associate

Dear Rather Hentak Kaki Senior Associate,
Congratulations on the promotion! Your managing partners must have seen something in you which you do not see in yourself. So have faith and continue on the good fight!

In regards to your problem, perhaps you can explain to the people working under you why you are giving directions and why it is important that they comply. At the end of the day, you are the one going to Court and if Court directions are not complied, you are the one responsible.

Other than that, it is also important that they realise you are now entrusted with new responsibilities. Try to win them over by leading by example, listening to them whenever they have difficulties and protecting them if they have made mistakes.

If this is done, they will respect you for who you are and not what you are. At the end of the day, leadership is set by example and not by rank. Good luck!

Amicus Agony

Dear Amicus Agony,

I am a first year associate working in a litigation firm. I love being in my firm because it does a myriad of contentious matters giving me a lot of exposure. The structure in my firm is that the junior lawyers draft the pleadings and do everything associated with running the case. The only thing junior lawyers do not do however, is to contact the client directly nor do they argue the case in chambers and/or in open Court.

As much as I realise that I am a first year associate, the problem is that I feel that I know the case better than my seniors who present the case in chambers and/or in open Court because I was the one pouring through all the documents when preparing the pleadings etc.

I want to be a good litigator and I feel that if this persists, I will never get a chance to argue a case. If I do not argue cases, I will never be a good litigator. Help!

No Locus Standi Junior Lawyer

Dear No Locus Standi Junior Lawyer,

It might seem exciting to be arguing a case in chambers and/or in open Court. All litigators live for that moment. As excited as you are, perhaps what you do not see being a junior associate is that at times, a client wants a specific person (and this specific person alone) to argue his case. As you had yourself said it, you do not contact with clients personally and for all that you know, this client had requested for your seniors/partners to argue the case.

Our advice is that you should continue to work hard in your firm that you love. Trust is built up over a period of time and if you continue to work hard, your partners will notice and might recommend you to their clients that you are as capable as them to argue their case in chambers and/or in open Court.

It is a win-win situation then because the clients get an equally capable lawyer for lower charge-out rates!

Alternatively, you can also speak to your bosses whether you can argue for the smaller applications which are less contentious. They might accede to your request and over time, they might send you for the really contentious ones! Good luck!

Amicus Agony

Dear Amicus Agony,

I am a junior associate and I have recently started dating one of the senior associates at my firm. Nobody knows we are seeing each other currently. I feel that this may blossom into a relationship, but am worried about any consequences at work. Do I need to tell my co-workers or boss that we are dating?

New Love But Concerned

Dear New Love But Concerned,

Congratulations on the new romance.

Office romances are tricky and generally not recommended, but they do happen. There are a few things that you need to follow so that things do not go poorly.

Make sure both of you are on the same page and foresee the relationship becoming serious. First, you may wish to check the company’s formal procedures and policies regarding office relationships. Some companies have it mandated in their rule book on whether office dating is allowed or not. Even if there is no explicit policy against it, you may wish to find out how management feels about the office romance.

Even if you have supportive bosses, it is still important that you stay professional at all times. The romance should not change the way you two behave at work. Separating your personal time and matters from the professional is extremely important. A disagreement that you two are having should not make its way to the office. Nothing is worse than having a personal argument turn into a professional quarrel, or increased tension in the work environment should things not work out.

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.