Avinash Pradhan, Partner, International Arbitration And Construction & Projects
I am a Malaysian citizen, and grew up in Kuala Lumpur. I did my A-Levels in the UK, and then went on to read law at University College London, graduating in 2005. After being called to the English bar, and completing a Masters in corporate and commercial law, I returned to Malaysia and was called to the Malaysian bar. I joined Rajah & Tann as a foreign lawyer in January 2009, and have since been called to the Singapore bar.Avinash
The research I did prior to joining indicated that Rajah & Tann would provide the opportunity to work on challenging cases with lawyers who hold true to values of the legal profession and who are beacons of the regional legal landscape. I had previously interned with some of the lawyers at the firm, and so joining Rajah & Tann seemed a natural progression from that.
It was only upon joining the firm that I realised how fortunate I had been in my choice. It is difficult to single out one thing about Rajah & Tann above everything else that makes it really special, but if I had to, it would have to be the people. Rajah & Tann prides itself on being approachable, and the reality is precisely that. Regardless of position, everyone's contribution to the team is valued. Perhaps more importantly, colleagues are not just colleagues, but friends. I think this is fundamentally important in any working environment, but it is particularly so when you've just moved to a new country and you don't actually know anyone - the transition could not have been easier, and this was in large part due to sense of welcome that I received in the firm.
Prior to joining the firm I had realised that my passion for practice lay in commercial and corporate litigation and arbitration. However, I wanted to develop broad and deep experience within those boundaries. The partners have been extremely supportive of this, and my experience thus far has entirely matched my aspirations. The matters I have been involved in include shareholders' disputes, ship building and sale, joint venture agreements, construction disputes, financial instruments and banking, sale and supply of goods – and the list goes on. The great thing is that you never feel that you've been hung out to dry; everyone is more than willing to lend a hand if you need it. It also helps that the concept of "work-life balance" isn't just a marketing tool subject to sniggers and resigned jokes about weighted scales. It's a core part of the firm's philosophy, and the effect is that when practice gets really demanding, it continues to feel like a challenge rather than a burden.
Ultimately, it’s great to be in a firm which you feel has your best interests at heart, and where you look forward to coming to work each day. And when each of those days involves you working with people at the very top of their game who nonetheless value your ideas and are willing to provide you with mentorship, not just in the context of developing legal skills but in the sense of helping you be successful in life, the end result is that you’re given the confidence and the inspiration to realise the full extent of your potential.
Rebecca Chew, Deputy Managing Partner
I am a partner with the Business Finance & Insolvency Practice Group and the Human Resource Partner of the firm. I joined the firm as a junior lawyer in 1992. At the time, the firm was considered small with less than 15 lawyers. I had just completed my first year of legal practice in M/s Ramdas & Wong. The then Managing Partner of the firm, Mr. VK Rajah (as he then was) made me an offer to practice litigation in the firm. Although the firm was small in size, it had two outstanding litigators, Mr. VK Rajah and Kenneth Tan SC. I knew that by joining the firm, I would have an excellent opportunity to be trained by two experienced and well-regarded litigators.Rebecca Chew
My decision proved to be a correct one. I received the best training I could have ever hoped for during those early years in the firm. I was exposed to a wide range of contentious legal work from family law to complex commercial litigation. In the course of my work, I played the leading role in various small to medium size matters and worked under the guidance of the senior partners of the firm for the larger complex matters. This enabled me to gain a lot of valuable exposure in the area of banking and commercial litigation, banking advisory, different aspects of dispute resolution etc. In fact, how I presently handle my cases and analyze the legal issues is primarily drawn from the training I received in those early years of practice in the firm.
Just about 3 to 4 years after joining the firm, I was offered partnership. This gave me a bigger role in managing relationships with the firm’s clients which included several financial institutions. This also enabled me to gain greater exposure in dispute resolution and offered me many opportunities to take on cases as lead counsel and to expand my area of practice.
By then, I was pregnant with my first child and was rather apprehensive about how I was going to cope with being a mother and a partner of the firm. I recalled very vividly asking the Managing Partner whether I should consider working part-time. He told me that my life would change in many ways when I become a parent and that I should never have to compromise my commitment to my family. Somehow, I managed to balance family and work and even went on, soon after to have my second child. Amazingly, I realize that it is possible with discipline, hard-work and good planning for me to juggle family and work. I have experienced a lot of satisfaction from my work in the firm even as I cared for my two young children like any other working mum. In fact, through the support of the firm and my family, I have even been able to break new ground in my legal practice and take on more challenging areas of practice such as medical law and ethics, public law and administration etc.
Apart from acquiring legal skills and improving my court craft, I have learnt a valuable lesson of what it means to maintain a firm culture that is caring and compassionate. Through my years in the firm, I have personally witnessed how the management of the firm has displayed acts of kindness to its employees in times of need. In recent times, there is so much focus on “worklife balance” and how the organization can reap benefits from such initiatives. But even as early as when I first joined the firm, there were worklife strategies being practiced in the firm even before the term became popular. This was not done because the firm thought that they were going to reap organizational benefits but simply because that is the culture of the organization.
In addition, the management of the firm has always encouraged its lawyers to contribute to the community through its Corporate Social Responsibility programme. In my early years in the firm, with the permission of the Managing Partner, I have taken on cases for families who could not afford legal representation but yet, deserved to have access to justice. In so doing, I am comforted by the fact that I have been able to make a real difference to the lives of these families. I have learnt from these experiences that the true reflection of justice is about acting fairly and showing mercy.
In 2009, I was asked to take on a larger role in the administration of the Firm as its Human Resource Partner in addition to my role as a senior litigator in the firm. Although the firm is amongst the largest leading law firms in Singapore, the commitment to creating a caring work environment has remained throughout and has been further enhanced with the growth of the firm. I hope that the firm will continue its commitment to nurture its people so that they can continue to deliver legal service of the highest caliber and to provide a caring and conducive work environment.
Jansen Chow, Partner, Commercial Litigation Service
I am an associate with the Commercial Litigation department of Rajah & Tann. I graduated from the University of Bristol in 2006 and have been with the firm since my pupilage in 2007.Jansen
Why Rajah & Tann? --- Exposure. At Rajah & Tann, you are constantly exposed to top tier litigation work. It is a steep learning curve but the magnitude and complexity of the cases allows you to develop significantly in your formative years and hopefully sets the groundwork for your legal career ahead.
Rajah & Tann also boast an active and strong football set-up, which I am involved in. We are the current defending champions (for 2009) for the Rajah & Tann Cup (a 5-a-side annual futsal tournament organised by the NUS law faculty) and were placed third in the Law Society 11-a-side Football Tournament in 2009.
Life as an Associate is never easy. It is all about meeting deadlines and expectations of the Court, the clients and your bosses. At times, you do feel like you are just fighting fires. However, an important part of sustainability in the profession is to prioritise. Prioritise your work and more importantly, your life outside of work.
A typical day in the life of an associate would no doubt involve clients, be it phone calls, e-mails or meetings. Multi-tasking is a given. You may find yourself handling up to some ten to fifteen files at any given time. As an Associate, you have your hands in everything. From reviewing documents to research to drafting letters or submissions, you tend to be the man on the ground for all files. This is of course the only way to learn.