Thursday, September 21, 2006

Tis the Season

This is the third week in a row that I'll be involved in an employment termination. Some other Sad Sack is going to get canned very shortly and I'll be adding further credits in my karmic account. If this continues, people will start avoiding my calls. I'm like, the Angel of Death with regard to their livelihood.

How do I internally justify this to myself? Well it's quite straightforward. I look at the monthly salary of this person and their job description. It's really easy to prepare the termination docs when they earn the equivalent of S$70,000 per month and have a chauffeured 7-series car, for doing a job that doesn't sound particularly like "ROCKET SCIENCE". I thought you had to, like, sell a planet to make that kind of moolah. But no, the person driving in the next car could be making that kind of money. It's pretty common.

Or the guy who had to work only 2 weeks out of 2 months, and was making the equivalent of S$50,000 per month. EVEN THE MONTHS WHERE HE DIDN'T NEED TO WORK. And the fucker had to spend all the money on heroin (No, the Singapore authorities shouldn't bother with this one, he's not Singaporean and he didn't work in Singapore) - the termination documents just shot out of my printer like greased lightning.

Clients always ask about the likelihood of retaliation. I go through the options with them and offer solutions, but I never mention that most likely option of all and that is, the employee may go berzerk and come back to the office with a knife or a gun. I don't mention that one because I don't have any solution to it, other than "Run for your lives!"

And no, none of these terminations deal with Singapore law. I didn't know when I was an undergrad but I certainly know now - Singapore grads who join foreign firms cannot practise Singapore law because it's illegal. Therefore you must work for a local law firm if you want to practise Singapore law. And what law are you qualified to practice when you graduate from NUS and get called to the Singapore bar? First person to answer that gets a prize!

Maybe if more undergrads were aware of this, then the demand for a second Singapore law school might ... never mind. OF COURSE there would still be a great demand for a second Singapore law school. Of course Singaporeans only want to work in local law firms. Of course foreign law firms can never match local law firms for pay and benefits. If we can't hold out for less in the name of national pride, then how else can we serve our nation?

I can't remember the day I finally figured out that I wouldn't be in this conundrum if I had only gone overseas to study law instead of staying here but that's probably because I went and ate puffer fish and then got blind drunk.


At 12:53 PM, Blogger gremlin said...

no, no, you're right. it'd only be great karma coming your way doing good the way you do for those suckers paying out that kind of money. print twice - send one on my behalf - make it doubly painful, why not. bloody hell. what kind of money izzat?! chuh. I still prefer to think it's a typo. that they really dun get that but everyone's too shy to say so.

At 3:31 PM, Blogger expat@large said...


At 12:38 AM, Anonymous Cory said...

Are these foreign lawyers? Who makes this kind of money???? We lived in Singapore for two years and my husband worked damn hard but I never heard of anyone earning that kind of cash. We certainly didn't. I don't know anyone in America making that kind of money per month. Maybe I'm just naive.

At 9:25 AM, Blogger HairyDonut said...

None are foreign lawyers. Both work for companies in managerial positions. Mr Heroin's job was to help manage a shopping centre.

At 12:03 PM, Blogger gremlin said...

monkeys really.

At 1:31 PM, Blogger gremlin said...

oh btw, I love the belly-button shots by the pool! soooo cute! so what's happening with that button? anything the doctors should be doing or...?

At 1:52 PM, Anonymous dilettanteP said...

Not including bonuses yet right? At what level- managing partners???? If there is such a term for law firms!!!

At 2:53 PM, Blogger HairyDonut said...

Dunno what to do about the bellybutton. He likes to poke it. So do I.

Lawyers don't earn money like this unless they are very famous or very senior.

At 9:54 AM, Anonymous jl said...


So it would be better to study in the UK?

Cos I'm currently deciding whether to study in Singapore or in UK.

Can you please reply? Cos I'm really in a dilemma. =p

Every other lawyer I know tells me not to study law cos the pay is peanuts and the hours are shit.

but i wan! I wan! I dont care! I wan! =p

At 11:16 AM, Blogger gremlin said...

oh ya! study in the UK! the best! play damn hard yet get your degree anyways ;P that's the life. I did that and got paid the same as any triple first law graduate from NUS. plus if I wanted to, I can work in the uk for slightly more than peanuts - but dun be fooled - tax is hugER there by double plus no CPF - do your figures properly -plus food and housing cost more - grass is not always greener when you actually sit down and do your homework. (and NO, they dun pay peanuts to lawyers in s'pore - just that if you compare the figure with wat $70 grand/mth? ha ha, every other pay's peanuts then) I would never trade the time I had in the UK with anything else. Of course the cost of studying overseas is huge - so at least get a decent degree before heading home la. and you'd have to do your English Bar of course when you're done with the LLB - else where's the prestige? that's hard to pass so can't play that hard. but we defied convention anyways and....phew - luckily passed! (50% pass rate) other than that - the best. do it. do it. be nice to your parents if they're financing you. it's a once in a life-time experience that should not be given up whatever the jealous s'pore undergrads/grads say - eg. "oh, dun need to study also pass one right?" Why not? I say, smiling sweetly.

At 10:59 AM, Blogger HairyDonut said...


It's very straightforward. Unless the law in Singapore changes, you cannot practise Singapore law unless you work with a Singapore firm.

There are lots of alternative JLV, FLA alliances and it does look to a casual observer as though local lawyers can work with foreign firms blah blah blah. But that's from the work perspective. Where you are employed, however, is still the local firm. The foreign firm cannot employ you for the purpose of practising Singapore law except in some very limited areas of practice, such as arbitration (I'm not very clear about this though).

If you want to be able to work in a foreign firm in the future, for example, if you would like to be able to still practise as a lawyer in another country, you'll need to become qualified separately. By this, I mean, you need to re-learn all about the laws of another country. Like a mini-degree, on your own time.

In terms of pay, you can earn a good living in a Singapore firm. You can also earn a good living in a foreign firm. I don't want to start a shitstorm by making comparisons. But the starting and subsequent pay can be different.

If you want to be fabulously rich, e.g. rich enough to retire at 35, then this is NOT the right profession. Try investment banking or private banking instead.

At 4:08 PM, Anonymous jl said...

Ok. =)

Thanks a lot!

Nah. It's not about the money. I wanna do law, cos I like doing legal research. There's this *DING DING DING* that goes in my head when I find something. And I feel very happy.

And the thing about researching law is that, the articles, cases whatever that i research on, is always very interesting to read. and even if it isn't, there's a sense of satisfaction in breaking down the tedious language into something that's understandable.

The people who told me that, perhaps I was too hasty in my posting, meant that the pay, compared to the time spent less with their family was not worth it. er. something like that?

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to reply, both of you. =)

At 8:16 AM, Blogger gremlin said...

oh ha ha. and that's why yours truly preferred to become housewives and make more babies instead :) more SATISFACTION anytime than breaking codes for stoopid people who will never be happy enuff. and the money's all spent in retail therapy anyways - all gone all gone.

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