My calling to become a lawyer wasn’t about money, GCE A-Level grades or scholarship programmes. Having been verbally and emotionally abused for five years in school, and having suffered much trauma during my adolescence, upholding justice and representing the voices of vulnerable parties became important to me.

To counter this seemingly idealistic notion, I interned at multiple legal organisations to understand the realities of legal practice and its potential limitations. I spoke to multiple individuals within and outside the legal sector, and I sought God with all my heart (Psalm 130:5).

I knew that multiple challenges would come my way as I embarked on the journey on becoming an advocate and solicitor, so I did all I could to get myself mentally prepared.

But when I actually embarked on my six months of legal training, the challenges that I faced appeared to be too much for me to bear.

One of the main challenges I faced was in crafting my “legal identity”.

Initially, I found it difficult being in Court. I knew how to be prim and proper, but I wasn’t used to this heightened sense of vigilance.

A paralegal once told me, “法庭没有朋友” (there are no friends in Court). If I matched that Chinese phrase with all the ugly, scheming and manipulative opposing counsels I’ve encountered so far, then yes, that phrase bears great relevance.

I had to be highly guarded all the time. Knowing that the Court is not a playground is one thing, but literally being on the front lines is another.

This constant state of guardedness was something that law school never prepared me for.

This constant state of guardedness was something that law school never prepared me for. I’m highly extroverted, which made things even more challenging. I could not be my usual cheery, bubbly and warm self. Reaching out to others could only be done outside work and in church.

Whenever I met a friend from junior college or church for lunch, I felt that I was free to be myself again! Even just one hour was good enough – I could finally breathe. Lunch time was so precious, so I made a conscious effort not to get any of my friends worried, especially when I saw them right after handling some highly complicated legal matter or an unpleasant client meeting.

In my heart, I knew that this struggle had to be addressed, and that there could only be spiritual solutions to such an issue.

I decided to be part of my church’s weekly discipleship group for one year. Through exploring God’s Word in a structured manner, I gained strength which I never had before. As His Word filled my mind, I began to see it come alive. The readings were intense, but I pulled through with God’s help, on top of my studies for the Singapore Bar Exams and legal training.

God’s Word, along with the wisdom of my discipleship group, helped me to craft my “legal identity” more purposefully, especially when it came to dealing with toxic colleagues and difficult people. I also came to see that human justice must be tampered with God’s mercy – God’s perspectives were what mattered most.

I learnt that however busy life gets, God will make a way for anyone who wants to grow in Him.

Knowing my identity in Christ – and that I’m complete in Him – gave me the conviction to think through everything I did in Court and at work more effectively.

And as I read what God’s word says about me (Psalm 118:6, Hebrews 13:6), I also gained greater confidence in the legal world. Studying God’s Word with my discipleship group and attending my church’s weekly adult bible classes increasingly enabled me to see things from God’s perspective. 

I learnt that however busy life gets, God will make a way for anyone who wants to grow in Him. 

Nevertheless, the challenges were immense, especially having to work and study concurrently for Part A of the Bar Examinations when they changed the dates.

I remembered falling sick very often. High fevers, acid reflux, heartburn, ear and nose infections took their turns with my body. The study and work overlap made me feel as if I had to squeeze time for everything – and I did so for those I love and treasure.

I decided there were things I wouldn’t compromise: Without having even been called to the Bar I had already heard many horror stories of Christian lawyers abandoning church and their relationships in life.

As I prepared for the examinations, I often felt lonely as most of my LLB peers had already been called to the Bar. My peers and I were in a different phase of life.

I must let go of the “court-attire mode” outside of work – it is necessary to speak heart-to-heart.

But in that season, I experienced the power of God’s community once more. I had to juggle my Saturday Service befriender duties with office work, so I brought office work to church. Despite this, my church friends never berated me or judged me for doing so.

Though most of them are introverts, I could tangibly feel the spiritual connection I shared with them in Christ. With them I felt God’s unwavering peace and knew in my heart that God is good.

You see, I have a traumatic background, and I strove to regulate my emotions, self-care and self-compassion. I put in conscious efforts to ensure that none of my peers bore any emotional responsibilities for me.

But God taught me that in building any kind of healthy relationship, vulnerability is inevitable. God made me realise that I must let go of the “court-attire mode” outside of work because it’s necessary to speak heart-to-heart.

It was not easy for me as I grew up thinking I had to keep everybody happy and could not show vulnerability. But God showed me that it’s good to be transparent with my struggles, and that a spiritual community won’t label or judge me for what I did, said or felt just because I’m a lawyer.

So yes, I’m free to be me, regardless of what the world at large says about what lawyers should be. 

What I’ve come to see is that your career is just what you do on a very frequent basis. It defines part of me, but it’s not everything that I am or will ever be.

My heartfelt prayer for those who are struggling with what I once went through is that you’ll have a strong sense of purpose in life. Remember, life is an adventure to live! If we frame our lives as closely as possible towards what God wants us to be, then all the work we do glorifies God and ceases to be mere toil.

Most of us probably won’t be able to see the purposes God has for us immediately. However, have faith! Have confidence too that God will bring healthy God-loving individuals to your life. You need not journey alone (Galatians 6:2).

Together with such brothers and sisters in Christ, let us hope to someday proclaim: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

The author’s name has been changed for confidentiality.

  1. What was the toughest period of work or studies you’ve been through?
  2. What are some things you won’t compromise in life?
  3. Do you have a community you can be vulnerable in?