Thng Shin Min, in-house counsel

After graduating from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Law in 2007, Shin Min spent a couple of years in litigation practice with a local law firm. She then went in-house, starting with a Singapore listed company, subsequently moving on to a European MNC, and is currently with a US-based technology company. Aside from work, Shin Min is also actively involved in the Singapore Corporate Counsel Association, where she is the Treasurer and also co-chairs the committee for young in-house lawyers. On the side, she spends her time doing volunteer work. If she had never gone to law school, she would probably have gone into biomedical engineering and destroyed every cell culture she touches. Or gone into child care. 

This Letter is addressed to her 20 year old self, who has just finished her first year of law school.

Dear Shin Min,

You must be feeling so much doubt right now and regretting coming to law school in the first place. You have never been one with the language skills, nor been one to speak up at public events. It looks like you are not one to hang out with the ‘cool’ crowd either. All the tools one needs to get through law school and be a lawyer. Now look at your first year grades – you worked really hard, but that did not seem to reflect in the grades.

How did that sound? Extremely pessimistic? That is who you are now, but not who you are going to be. As you get older, the challenges you face will get harder. Each time you will feel like you are not cut out for it, each time you will feel like giving up. But giving up is not an option. You have chosen your path, you ride it out and you make the best of it. You will get through every challenge and build up your confidence. You will find that you have what it takes to overcome each challenge which comes your way. Always look back at the challenges you have conquered and remind yourself of what you have been through. You have chosen the path to be a lawyer and it is the best path you have chosen. You are blessed to be in this position.

Persevere. Remember that if you persevere, you will pull through. You have a tendency to take on everything that comes your way. You are not sure how to say no. When it comes to fulfilling the task, you freak out and tell yourself (and sometimes even others) that you are not up to it. Don’t! Once you have committed to it, nothing is worse than backing out and not delivering on your promises. So, think before you say yes. It is okay to say no. If you have already said yes, pull on the resources around you. Stay calm and think it through. You will be able to complete the task.

Be humble. There is the Chinese saying “一山还比一山高” (literally translated as “there is always a mountain higher than this”). Don’t ever think that you have arrived and you are better than others. There is always a higher mountain to climb, there are always people better than you and there are always lessons to be learnt. So don’t get ahead of yourself.

Treat everyone with love and respect. Observe the people around you. Success is measured by your accomplishments, but also by your character, how you treat others. Watch the people around you and pick up good traits you want to follow, and remember those you don’t want to have. Think about how you can bless every single person you meet. Everyone has a journey they have been through which makes them who they are today. Always listen to their stories with sincerity and treat them with respect. As you look above and progress in your career, also look within and develop your character.

Be confident, but don’t get ahead of yourself.


Shin Min

PS: You may not know it now, but Gin and Tonic will one day be your beverage of choice.  

Chan Yuk Lun, SingaporeLegalAdvice founder

Cheah Wui Ling, law professor