Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get!
Mr Chang once told me, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get!” Quoting Forest Gump…
Working in Alex Chang & Co. was like that; you never know what task you were going to get next.
This experience is what I did not expect.
During my second week of attachment, I was instructed to serve a Bankruptcy Notice on a debtor who was based in a different state with another attachment student. It felt amazing, when everything that you have studied comes into practice. Service of legal documents is the most basic and fundamental topic every Certificate Legal Practice (CLP) student must know when they study Civil Procedure. However, after this experience of serving the Bankruptcy Notice, I realised that I have only a superficial understanding of this subject. It is not as easy as it seems to effectively serve a Bankruptcy Notice on a person. In reality, the surrounding circumstances will have an effect on the success rate of the service.
In addition, Mr Chang also gave me a chance to escort the clients to make a police report at the police station, and I learnt how to engage better with the clients. Lawyers, being someone who is familiar with legal jargons, should always try his best to simplify and explain the legal issues to his clients. It is essential to ensure that the clients understand the circumstances they face. Interacting with the clients is of the utmost important.
FEDERAL COURT APPEALS
Apart from the above, I was also fortunate to be given an opportunity to be involved in the preparation of an appeal matter in the Federal Court, and I truly felt honored that I was invited by Mr Chang to attend the hearing of the matter. Whilst I was sitting in the public gallery, observing Mr Chang, standing confidently while submitting before the panel of 5 judges, gave me goosebumps! I asked myself, ‘How many years of practice before I could stand in front of a panel of 5 most experienced judges without feeling nervous?’ When the panel of Judges pronounced the judgment in our favour, although I looked calm, my inner self was screaming with joy. It was a big relief knowing that those hard work and efforts had paid off.
I came to realisation that I was manifestly wrong in taking research lightly before commencing my attachment in Alex Chang & Co. Without thorough research, one could not propose a clear and forceful argument to convince a judge to rule in your favour. Nevertheless, advocacy skills will come into play when you are presenting your submission before a tribunal. Even though your submission may be impeccable, the way you present your arguments to the judge is also a crucial factor to win a case. I have also learnt from Mr Chang that “common sense and reasons are both equally essential qualities that a lawyer must equip himself with. With these both, one can argue a case in any open court.” Common sense and reason will get you anywhere.
To be a good lawyer, knowing the law at your fingertips is a prerequisite. However, it is not the only attribute to qualify as a ‘good lawyer’. Legal practice is not an isolated profession, for in this one month, aside from my colleagues and clients; I was also required to interact with the court personnel, staff from a security company and even a police officer. A lawyer is required to deal with different people from different backgrounds every day. It is not a job where one just sits in the office from 9am-5pm and is able to have the cases resolved.
As a student, I did not see networking with other people a crucial element in my life. What I was more concerned with was the network connection – that is, the data coverage on my smart phone. Nonetheless, I have become fully aware that active networking is vital for career growth as a lawyer. There is an old saying, ‘strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends’. Although our country practices the adversarial legal system, the two opposing counsels may still go for a drink after a case is concluded. It is this professional attitude which I admire.
Mr Chang was also there to guide me and ensure that I was always on the right track. He was always there to answer my questions when I was in doubt. Apart from that, I am also glad that I have been assigned to work alongside two very young and competent lawyers, Ms Lim and Mr Soong, who are ready to respond to my dubiousness. Working with Mr Chang can be tough, as he expects from you no less than what he expects from a qualified lawyer. In a way, you are able to taste what a litigation lawyer is like.
This one month would not have been the easiest and most relaxed period in my life, but it is definitely an enjoyable one. I have gained more than I would have expected to gain from a short attachment. I once told Mr Chang that, when I was looking for a placement for attachment, the overall positive testimonies on Alex Chang & Co. from previous pupils had gotten me to wonder, were they paid to write these? Well, I think I am now able to answer that question. I can firmly say that it is a big no. This indeed, was a very fruitful attachment experience.
TAM Elise Vie Vien