A letter from the Editors

Dear reader,

By the time you read this, the first work day of 2017 will be dawning.

How will you spend it?

When the first work day of 2016 dawned, this time last year, I was looking forward to seeing my friends in school again, but absolutely dreading the start of what is known colloquially in NUS as “hell semester”. I had no clue that the upcoming trials and tribulations would spark the idea which would change the rest of my life. At the time, in January 2016, all I saw were trials and tribulations, rising like mountains before me.

And for the first few weeks of 2016, those were all I continued to see. I remember crying every single week, at the same time: Monday nights, trying and failing to finish my tutorials on time. It took me a very long time to realise that things could be changed; that I was not immutably stupid and lazy. By the time I started to prepare tutorials earlier, my eyes had begun to open to see more: to see how the rest of my batchmates were taking “hell semester”, from signs in the hallways and on social media, for example; and to see how this, too, could be changed.

Letters of the Law was born in one very long shower which began with me feeling sorry for myself and ended with me pondering over snatches of conversation I had glimpsed and heard. “I’m too dumb for law school! I should just leave.” “You don’t understand, you’re a Dean’s Lister.” “How come everything he says in class sounds so intelligent and confident?” “I’m never going to get a TC like this.”

Letters of the Law may feature moments of failure, but ultimately, it’s about empowerment. It’s about what happens when we compare our stories and realise we’re actually not that different.

I strongly believe we as the legal community are stronger when we stand together. As Rahayu Mahzam shares in the Letter we publish today, “There may be a lot of things you cannot control, but there are also many things you can do to make your life and those of others around you better.”

Our motto is “starting a conversation, strengthening a community”. In the three months since Letters of the Law was launched, on 4 October, we have shared stories of letting go, of showing up, and of hanging on. We received messages from you guys, readers all over the globe, about stories which resonated with you. We refined our tagging system – so you can more easily find stories which resonate, by scrolling to the bottom of every post (tip: use the “To:” tag to find others where you’re at). We started a Facebook page for easier ‘sharing’. There’ll be so much more in 2017 – I can’t wait!

Till then, I remain immensely grateful for our Letter writers, law graduates who continue to take the time off their busy schedules to share moments of deep vulnerability and introspection with you. I am also incredibly thankful for my team, Amelia and Gideon, for spending their free time on this endeavour.

Above all, I am so glad you, the reader, clicked in. Come 2017, we look forward to seeing where these stories take you. Keep telling us about the good (or bad) moments; which Letters you made you laugh, or cry, or think, “Me too.” Those moments are what we live for.

We also look forward to receiving and sharing more stories from law graduates in 2017. Everyone has a story; everyone has something that will make someone out there think, “Me too. I never knew.” If you are a law graduate willing to tell us more, write in to us! A story doesn’t wait until its writer is ‘successful enough’ to tell it. A story needs only a rapt listener. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Here’s to a stronger 2017,

Grace Teo

Founder, Letters of the Law

Rahayu Mahzam, politician and practising lawyer

Serena Low, midlife career mentor