Sue Lynn holds an LL.B. and LL.M. from the University of London, and is called to the Bar of England and Wales. She is currently a non‐practising Advocate and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Singapore, and is the APAC Legal Director of a US MNC’s Singapore regional headquarters in the semiconductor industry. Sue Lynn started off in the litigation department of a local law firm before going inhouse in 1998. She is an Associate Mediator accredited by the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC), and is a volunteer Mediator in the State Courts, and also conducts training when called upon by SMC. Sue Lynn is regularly invited to chair, moderate, speak or be part of panels at various legal‐ and mediation‐related events. Recently, Sue Lynn decided to pick up the ukulele. Be very afraid if she approaches you with a determined look in her eyes, wielding her newly purchased ukulele…
This Letter contains her advice to her younger self.
7 pieces of advice (actually, a couple are “well done”s) to my younger self
- Start exercising early. You should have started regular exercise during your teens, or at least while you were in your early 20s. They say the age you start to exercise, the longer you look that age. Well, since you started to exercise regularly only when you turned 40, if you bump into me (via time travel), please try to be polite.
- Wear sunscreen. I know you liked your freckles, until a bunch of them on your left cheek got lonely and decided to come together. Permanently. No cream in the world works, only laser, so if you want to avoid having to spend money on expensive procedures, start wearing broad spectrum sunscreen before you go out in the sun.
- Find a mentor, or two. Your mentors were accidental mentors, meaning you never asked them to become your mentors. You should have. Their knowledge, experience and kindly dispositions would have gifted you as a then-law student now lawyer with lifelong insights, wisdom and right perspectives. One of the best advice one of your accidental mentors ever gave: Offer to buy a(n affordable) meal once a month in return for that person’s time and advice.
- Financial planning. Nothing new here: Start saving early, delay gratification whenever possible, and you will get to reap the magic of compound interest in due course. (I should perhaps title this point “How to retire early”…)
- Travel more. In early 1989, you were given a university award for your proposed travel project- to document your journey on the Trans-Siberian railway from Russia to China later in spring/summer. Unfortunately, 2 tragic incidents in June 1989 derailed (pun intended!) your plans and you sadly returned your monetary award: a giant gas explosion that killed hundreds on the Trans-Siberian Railway trains near the Ural mountains, and the Tiananmen Square protests which also resulted in many deaths. It would have been a once-in-a-lifetime-travelogue. So whenever you have the chance, travel!
- Right (wo)man. Invest time and effort to find the right life partner, which you got right (though you really must give glory and credit to God!). When you are just starting out in your first law job with your nose to the grind, you may not get much opportunity to socialise outside the legal fraternity. Make the effort and take the time to cultivate and maintain non-legal friends and acquaintances. It was thanks to your non-lawyer girlfriend in church, who spotted you moping around boyfriend-less, and who introduced you to your then-boyfriend, now husband and father of your 2 children. My non-lawyer husband (I highly recommend mechanical engineers from NTU) is my best friend, my soul mate and literally my Better Half. And yes, even my own friends say he is my Better Half. Better still, he’s a real handyman around the house, something us lawyers may find difficult to lay claim to.
- 2nd choice career. And finally, not many know that Law was your second choice for a career. You had wanted to be a vet. Frankly, I sometimes still wish I was a vet. But looking back over the past decades since my LL.B. in 1989, this second choice didn’t turn out too badly, and you made plenty of friends who are far more decent lawyers and law-related folk than you. You have been blessed by their friendship and kindness, the latter because they constantly overlook your many faults. So I would say to my younger self in conclusion, don’t cry over decisions which are hardly life and death- opting for a second career choice is not life and death. Make the most of any choice you make, even if it turned out not to have been the best choice. No matter what, keep your chin up, remember there are always people who love you and want to help you, and go on to make them proud of you. Our legacy should be what we aim at, and not by what we hit…