Lim Zhi Kang graduated from the National University of Singapore, Faculty of Law in 2014 and was called to the Bar in 2015. He practiced civil and commercial litigation for almost two years before he left the law to pursue opportunities in China.
Zhi Kang is now based in Shanghai, China, doing Business Development (BD) work and overseeing the South-East Asian market for a Chinese startup in the field of business matching and consultancy. He regularly meets business owners and executives across industries and geographies and enjoys finding ways to help businesses grow.
This letter is addressed to Zhi Kang as a newly minted lawyer at his first day as a litigation associate.
Dear Zhi Kang,
Congratulations on being called to the Bar! I know it’s been six months of sweat and tears but trust me, there’ll be much more coming your way.
I know you’re excited about life as a lawyer proper, yet you don’t know if this life is what you want in the long run. Regardless, learn as much as you can every day from everyone you meet. I know you don’t like working with some people at work and you think they are ridiculous, but suck it up and learn. Learn from your bosses, learn from your peers. Learn from your clients, your secretaries, your interns. You’ll be amazed at how much you grow through just listening and learning.
Although you feel like a lost child, working for multiple partners when you see your colleagues doing most of their work for just one partner, this is going to be a blessing in disguise. You have no idea what’s coming. Would you believe me if I told you that in just two years of practice, you’re going to see action at every level of Court in Singapore and even handle a contested adoption? You’re going to be in for a heck of a ride as a litigation associate.
You’ve always enjoyed talking to people. Do that. Do more of that. Find friends and maintain cordial relations with all your professional contacts. They’ll be most valuable in the future.
Somewhere along the way you’re going to wonder if you should give up on your musical endeavours. NEVER. GIVE. UP. SINGING. Music will continue to bring you to places around the world and make you new friends across countries and cultures. At some points music will ensure your sanity and mental wellbeing.
Let’s come back to that side of you that thinks that law may not always be your thing. The world is bigger out there. I know you feel it. You’ll start looking for new things to do in your second year of practice. You’ll want to live overseas. Some of your bosses know that. And don’t be afraid to share your views with the colleagues you trust. They’ll be supportive and encouraging.
An old friend will pop up with the opportunity of a lifetime: to move to Shanghai. You’ll decide to YOLO and take it even with a huge pay cut. It will be one of the best decisions of your life. You’ll be terrified, but you’re going to be fine. Trust me.
Maybe after reading all this you’ll think that I’m nuts, and that you’ll want to stay in practice. I guess sometimes I miss the law; part of me always misses the law. But that’s a story for another day.
Till then, all the best in your life as an associate. Keep your friends and family close, and learn as much as you can. Never stop singing.