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  #6141 (permalink)  
Old 13-06-2020, 12:36 PM
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Clocking pqe in nameless Chinatown firm isn't worth jack ****. Not all pqe is equal. Might as well work in ministry or statboard.
Why? I thought you can get very good experience there early on? Conduct trials or handle matters on your own at 1-2 PQE etc.?

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  #6142 (permalink)  
Old 13-06-2020, 12:50 PM
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That is correct. I would also like to add on that community law has its own merits. You get to help a range of individuals from multi-millionaires to estranged wives. The work is impactful as you get to make a huge difference in people’s lives.

The entry to barrier of Chinatown firms is relatively low. However, this should not avert you from applying for a position there. The key point is that you do it if it suits your personality, background and aptitude.

I hope people in the fraternity and those in the forum will stop putting down those who do community law. Chinatown firms deal with different clientele than your typical mid sized/b4/cc/baker. We aren’t competitors. There is no need for such an unwarranted comparison. If OP is keen on doing community law and has a passion for it, who are you to discourage and shame him for using “connections”? I am sure partners are able to judge if a candidate has the aptitude and passion for the work, you don’t have to worry about it.
Agreed 100%

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  #6143 (permalink)  
Old 13-06-2020, 01:00 PM
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Agreed 100%
Come on CT firms not all that bad. And yes who is that moron who suggested control over billionaires as 'connections' to shame OP, a 17 year old. That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard, you must be salty and inadequate in relation to your incompetence.

So what if OP's uncle is not a billionaire and referred him to a CT firm? I don't see any issue with that

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  #6144 (permalink)  
Old 13-06-2020, 01:02 PM
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Clocking pqe in nameless Chinatown firm isn't worth jack ****. Not all pqe is equal. Might as well work in ministry or statboard.
Literally what I did cos I saw a career that was going nowhere. Gave up and joined the mx scheme in a statboard (in a role which requires any generic degree). While im paid extremely low wages under this scheme, at least there is stability and some semblance of long term progression.

One huge con tho is that people tend to look down on you as "admin support" staff. You'll be surpised how many people look down on people in such roles. They don't trust your advice either, and some will refuse to even allow you to speak solely by virtue of your title. So as a former lawyer, you may need to recalibrate your ego in order to remain happy.

FYI I had joined a small chinatown firm in the belief that you get good practical experience very early on. True in a literal sense, but it was not quality learning. Most clients had very poor abilities to pay as well.
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Old 13-06-2020, 02:21 PM
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Literally what I did cos I saw a career that was going nowhere. Gave up and joined the mx scheme in a statboard (in a role which requires any generic degree). While im paid extremely low wages under this scheme, at least there is stability and some semblance of long term progression.

One huge con tho is that people tend to look down on you as "admin support" staff. You'll be surpised how many people look down on people in such roles. They don't trust your advice either, and some will refuse to even allow you to speak solely by virtue of your title. So as a former lawyer, you may need to recalibrate your ego in order to remain happy.

FYI I had joined a small chinatown firm in the belief that you get good practical experience very early on. True in a literal sense, but it was not quality learning. Most clients had very poor abilities to pay as well.
Hmm you didn’t apply for a manager position at least? So you’re doing admin?
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  #6146 (permalink)  
Old 13-06-2020, 02:48 PM
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Hmm you didn’t apply for a manager position at least? So you’re doing admin?
They didn't count it as relevant experience. As it turns out, lawyers aren't good at admin too. But I did get promoted quicker than others.

You may be surprised to know that there are many (not just 1 or 2) ex-lawyers in similar positions. Of course it's not something to shout about so you hardly hear of it.
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  #6147 (permalink)  
Old 13-06-2020, 03:34 PM
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surely, remuneration is not as high doing admin work as you could earn as a lawyer doing community law? So reduced pay and enjoyment of work (from what im sensing from your post)?
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  #6148 (permalink)  
Old 13-06-2020, 04:00 PM
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So a lot of business development? Is this the same as profit sharing
BD is not the same as profit sharing. BD just means you need to put in time to bring in clients. Whether you get credit/share in that client's bills, is a different matter.
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  #6149 (permalink)  
Old 13-06-2020, 04:15 PM
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Why? I thought you can get very good experience there early on? Conduct trials or handle matters on your own at 1-2 PQE etc.?
Yes and no. I think it depends on figuring out what you want in your career. Different pathways are "good" for different things.

If you want to print money, the law is really not for you.

If you want to enter a particular industry or area of law, you need to plan accordingly. Arbitration work is very difficult to get, in part because arbitrating parties do not need to appoint representatives from the Singapore bar. The big 4, international firms/JVs, and/or local arbitration specialists, are probably your best bet. If you want to do community work, Big 4 is probably not for you.

If your goals are autonomy in terms of lifestyle, handling your own clients/files, I think a smaller firm/CT firm is more likely to get you there faster. You progress to handling your own files quicker, and get to do "higher level" work (as in, less drafting research memos, more drafting pleadings, doing hearings solo, etc). Larger firms tend to be more hierarchical, structured, and can sometimes foster a lot of anal attitudes.

If you're the kind of person who thinks, "Don't bother me about the nitty gritty, let me just do what works", probably try a smaller firm.

The downside of this is that sometimes, smaller firms may lack instructional/teaching processes, and/or the partner himself may not be aware of, or has not implemented, proper file management processes, or client management processes, or may have developed some very bad, uncorrected bad habits, etc. If you only ever handle small-value files for clients who can't really afford to turn around and sue you, you may get away with all kinds of questionable habits and not know you're doing anything wrong, until you get a Law Society complaint.

So if you tend to work for someone who's less anal, or who isn't very strict, you should still keep it in the back of your mind that you have professional and ethical obligations, and you have avenues for asking for advice other than your boss. Sometimes it sucks to tell your boss "I won't do that because I think it's wrong", but once you're qualified, you can't shift blame for ethical breaches to your boss.

What works for each individual lawyer is probably going to depend a lot on what they want, and how they learn, and how they work. Some of my friends in Big 4 really hate it because they feel like tearing their hair out everytime someone nags them about formatting errors in their documents. OTOH, I started in smaller firms, and got frustrated at the lack of explicit instructions: you just try your best and nobody will tell you how to get things done, but they'll still tear you a new one if you do it "wrong"; I transitioned to Big 4 and I appreciate that there's always someone around who has an answer (even if it's not always THE answer, or the correct answer).

One thing you might want to consider is also how much support you get. Larger firms tend to have better support for lawyers. A Big 4 assoc can just send 5,000 pages of stuff in soft copy to a different department and everything gets printed, bound, tabbed, and sent off, with no further involvement from him. On the other hand I have literally sprinted to Court with a bundle of documents that I printed, bound, and tabbed myself, so I could tender it in time.

Hours are likely to be bad either way, but I'd rather be spending my late nights doing research or drafting than standing in front of the photocopier.
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  #6150 (permalink)  
Old 13-06-2020, 05:36 PM
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Yes and no. I think it depends on figuring out what you want in your career. Different pathways are "good" for different things.

If you want to print money, the law is really not for you.

If you want to enter a particular industry or area of law, you need to plan accordingly. Arbitration work is very difficult to get, in part because arbitrating parties do not need to appoint representatives from the Singapore bar. The big 4, international firms/JVs, and/or local arbitration specialists, are probably your best bet. If you want to do community work, Big 4 is probably not for you.

If your goals are autonomy in terms of lifestyle, handling your own clients/files, I think a smaller firm/CT firm is more likely to get you there faster. You progress to handling your own files quicker, and get to do "higher level" work (as in, less drafting research memos, more drafting pleadings, doing hearings solo, etc). Larger firms tend to be more hierarchical, structured, and can sometimes foster a lot of anal attitudes.

If you're the kind of person who thinks, "Don't bother me about the nitty gritty, let me just do what works", probably try a smaller firm.

The downside of this is that sometimes, smaller firms may lack instructional/teaching processes, and/or the partner himself may not be aware of, or has not implemented, proper file management processes, or client management processes, or may have developed some very bad, uncorrected bad habits, etc. If you only ever handle small-value files for clients who can't really afford to turn around and sue you, you may get away with all kinds of questionable habits and not know you're doing anything wrong, until you get a Law Society complaint.

So if you tend to work for someone who's less anal, or who isn't very strict, you should still keep it in the back of your mind that you have professional and ethical obligations, and you have avenues for asking for advice other than your boss. Sometimes it sucks to tell your boss "I won't do that because I think it's wrong", but once you're qualified, you can't shift blame for ethical breaches to your boss.

What works for each individual lawyer is probably going to depend a lot on what they want, and how they learn, and how they work. Some of my friends in Big 4 really hate it because they feel like tearing their hair out everytime someone nags them about formatting errors in their documents. OTOH, I started in smaller firms, and got frustrated at the lack of explicit instructions: you just try your best and nobody will tell you how to get things done, but they'll still tear you a new one if you do it "wrong"; I transitioned to Big 4 and I appreciate that there's always someone around who has an answer (even if it's not always THE answer, or the correct answer).

One thing you might want to consider is also how much support you get. Larger firms tend to have better support for lawyers. A Big 4 assoc can just send 5,000 pages of stuff in soft copy to a different department and everything gets printed, bound, tabbed, and sent off, with no further involvement from him. On the other hand I have literally sprinted to Court with a bundle of documents that I printed, bound, and tabbed myself, so I could tender it in time.

Hours are likely to be bad either way, but I'd rather be spending my late nights doing research or drafting than standing in front of the photocopier.
Thank you so much for this! I've been lurking around there for a while but this is the first post I feel I can really relate to. Junior Assoc at a mid firm here looking to ideally transition into a Big 4 once COVID gets better - everything you've described, including your previous experience at a smaller firm, hits home man.
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