Working as a Trainee Solicitor in Singapore by Charlotte Wang
I am currently with the Construction, Advisory & Disputes team in Singapore. I was called to the Singapore bar back in August this year. I did a double degree with the National University of Singapore and Yale-NUS College and graduated with a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (Honours). I minored in History at Yale-NUS College. I was involved in moots in law school and found myself inclined towards the litigation track of legal practise.
Staying close to home was a decision I made when choosing between attending law school in Singapore versus the UK. It was thus a natural choice to practise in Singapore.
I thoroughly enjoyed the interview process at Pinsent Masons MPillay. One of the writing samples I submitted was a history academic essay on the Nordic Icelandic Sagas. The partners that interviewed me took great interest in the essay topic and we chatted about how the Sagas evidenced the spread of Christianity in 1000 A.D. The conversations really showed that they were interested in me as a person and not simply an employee that churns out work.
Having said that, there were tough legal questions and general questions testing commercial awareness. I thought I bombed those questions but my advice would be not to take it too hard. We never quite know what the interviewers are looking for and sometimes the manner of response matters just as much as the substance. Chin up!
I was surprised by the amount of cross-border work I was involved in as a trainee. I would say this is one facet of working in an international law firm one might not be able to experience in a local Singapore law firm. An example would be a dispute arising from the construction of a power plant in South Africa.
The work I’m doing is challenging and the learning curve is steep but I am incredibly grateful for the firm’s mentoring philosophy. Seniors will take the time and effort to explain how to improve on your drafts. They find opportunities to give you work to cut your teeth on, even if that means increased time-cost on the file and extra work for them. My supervising solicitor even asked us to report our weekly tasks to him to ensure we were not overly taxed. At the end of my training period, an associate brought me out for coffee just to chat about my training experience.
We often have training conducted by the Pinsent Masons Academy which I have found very helpful. These include improving meeting/delegation/drafting skills and understanding different personality types that exist in the office.
The firm places a great emphasis on wellness. We just celebrated Diversity and Inclusion month in October where we had an office potluck, talks on Mental Health and an office quiz to get us to mingle with our colleagues. We also celebrate birthdays once every 2 months. Every Friday is Friday Drinks, where we unwind with our colleagues. It is a space where everyone in the firm, regardless of seniority can chat over a glass of wine. We also try to keep fit! A few of us gather at least once a week for high-intensity workouts.
Are you considering a Training Contract at Pinsent Masons MPillay? My advice is… definitely apply, you will not regret it. I definitely haven’t and feel incredibly grateful to be part of this firm.