To some overseas law students, the summer holidays would be the time where they use the break to spend time with their family. Thankfully, I have very understanding parents who allowed me to intern under Ms. Susan Tay and Mr. Lim Seng Siew for a good four weeks.
I stumbled onto OTP’s website by accident. Some would call it chance but I would call it serendipity. I applied for the internship as soon as I saw it and within two days, I received a phone call asking to schedule an interview. I was thrilled at the thought of gaining the opportunity to intern at a firm that sees cases from family law and civil litigation; areas of law which I have not been exposed to but had a deep set interest in.
The interview was nothing short of a casual conversation outlining both our expectations and that made me feel very comfortable. I took no time in considering the position for the following reasons:
- ued a good learning environment and from that interview I could tell that there were going to teach me as best as they can even though I could offer nothing of value to their firm that they do not already have.
- Through the conversation, I realised that both Mr Lim Seng Siew and Ms. Susan Tay are very humble lawyers and had a heart to teach which made it really easy to talk to them even though they had a string of accolades to both their names. They were casual yet stood for their own convictions; traits which were rare to find in employers.
I was not wrong. My first few days there were strangely not filled with much trepidation, as one would expect. Most that credit goes to Ms. Sandra Yong and Ms. Serene Ee, who despite their workload, spent time to fill me in on the office processes. They were very patient in teaching me and I learnt a great deal from them. They did not need to but they did so anyway and it was these gestures that eased me into acclimatising myself to the work environment.
The highlights of the internship include:
- The opportunity to meet and instruct people on pending cases against them. It must have been a huge leap of faith on Ms. Susan Tay’s part to allow an intern to communicate with people. It has most definitely boosted my confidence.
- Sitting in on a client interview for pre-trail matters. It gave me an insight on how a lawyer’s questioning method needs to prepare the client for possible scenarios the other party may put him in.
- Watching and engaging in conversation about cases that took place in the High Court and Family Court. After watching a court trial and having seen some of the processes that took place behind the scenes leading up to the trial has further inspired me in the practice of the law as lawyers are key agents for change.
- Preparing draft affidavits and submissions. These tasks were the ones I appreciated as it allowed me to practice my research skills that I have learnt at my university and gave me a practical perspective. It also made me more aware of common mistakes I made while preparing these documents and I could streamline my processes.
- Administrative work. Never underestimate how much something as trivial as filing, photocopying and faxing can teach you. You never know when your partner would ask you to do such thing when you are overseas on a case and skills like learning how to number documents become of paramount importance. Also, such knowledge underpins the preparation a lawyer has to do to prepare for a case. It was also an opportunity to get myself acquainted with the types of forms that were used in the court system and how to present them.
If I had to choose one most important value that I learnt during my stint at OTP, it would be that becoming a lawyer goes beyond what you learn in the classroom or at competitions. It is when you are dealing with real life cases will emotions, deadlines and effective communication become all the more substantial. More often than not, you are always thinking two or three steps before your clients so that you can better prepare them for what is to come. They come with a lot of hope and zeal in you. Also, a good lawyer has a vested interest in the community and the I saw the essence of this attribute resonate and manifest in each and every lawyer in this firm. It was heartwarming to witness that many times. I thank you Ms Susan Tay, Mr Lim Seng Siew, Mr Ong Ying Ping, Ms Sandra Yong and Ms Serene Ee for trusting my capabilities, challenging me and for making this internship a very memorable one.
Final Year at the Flinders University of South Australia.
Internship period mid-Jan 2015 to mid-Feb 2015