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Winning awards and securing training contracts

Jackie Tay with the Dean, Professor Paddy Ireland and Head of School, Professor Joanne Conaghan after the Award Ceremony held earlier this month.

Press release issued: 22 November 2016

At the Faculty of Social Science and Law Autumn Prize Giving ceremony the Dean's Prize for Excellence went to law students Emily Jelly, Guy Davis and Jackie Tay. Both Emily and Jackie have already secured training contracts with Jackie lined up to start with a firm in Singapore on graduating. This is a great achievement for a second year student and in this Q&A, Jackie provides some insight as to why he believes he managed to secure his training contract so early.  We will be catching up with Emily next month!

Why did you choose to study Law at Bristol?

I chose to further my studies in Bristol because of its renowned Law School, and this is evident from the established Bristol alumni back in Singapore. Specifically, I made up my mind to read Law after a brief internship as I liked the dynamism of the legal profession, with each case being unique and requiring a different application of the Law. I am attracted to the art of advocacy as the same content can be portrayed and interpreted very differently with the use of the same.

What has most inspired you during your time here?

Being an international student, I am heartened by the inclusive nature of Bristol as the university, and by extension, the city, is indeed a melting pot of diverse cultures and background. The commitment and dedication of the teaching staff in the Law School also inspires students to prepare well for the tutorials as my tutors and lecturers are always more than happy to answer my queries. The University also provides pastoral support for students through the use of personal tutors who are able to guide you through academia and life in general.

Which company did you secure your training contract with?

Straits Law Practice, a local law firm in Singapore which has about 40 lawyers headed by the Managing Director who is a Senior Counsel (Queen’s Counsel equivalent).

How long did the process take?

I was offered a training contract towards the end of my internship - a stint lasting approximately 7 weeks over last summer. Because of this the process did not take long. The partners had the opportunity to assess me and determine whether I was the right ‘fit’ in the firm in terms of the quality of my work, my disposition, and more during the internship.

What was the toughest part of your internship?

The toughest element would undoubtedly be when I was assisting the Managing Director in an appeal involving Singapore’s biggest case of criminal breach of trust involving sums in excess of £28 million. Given that it was appeal, I had to be acquainted with the facts of the case at trial (involving thousands of documents as well as the court transcripts stretching over 140 days). I was tasked to draft the rebuttals to the prosecution’s submissions and the Managing Director was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the work and in turn. It was a result of this case that I was offered the training contract.

What do you think made you stand out from the crowd?

It definitely benefitted me that the application process for my training contract coincided with my internship stint as the hiring partners were able to examine me first-hand in my interaction with my peers and colleagues, as well as the quality of my work. An internship ought not to be seen as something which is mainly for the purposes for adding to one’s CV; instead, it helps you and the firm assess whether each is the right fit for the other.

What would be your top tips for a student just starting out on the process?

It is crucial to research the various firms that you are interested in and apply for a vacation scheme or at the very least, an open day. Be sure to tailor your application to each individual firm, and highlight that you identify with the values that the firm espouses as this makes your application sincere and sincerity stands out. Such schemes are useful as it helps you to ascertain whether the firm meets your expectations and also, it allows the firms to gauge whether you are a right fit for them. Once you are successful in your application for a vacation scheme, be proactive rather than passive and seek to learn and contribute in whatever capacity possible. In a nutshell, it is important to take ownership of whatever you are entrusted with.

How much longer do you have here and is the training contract reliant on your grades?

I have a year remaining in Bristol before graduating and surprisingly, I would say that the training contract is not reliant on my grades as I had applied to the firm for an internship without my first year grades (as it was only released after I was successful in my application for the internship) and I was offered the training contract during the course of my internship without reference to my grades.

What are you most looking forward to once you start at Straits Law Practice?

I look forward to reconnecting with the colleagues of the firm whom have been very patient and gracious to me, despite my initial inexperience and they are one of the main reasons why I realised that Straits Law Practice is the right fit for me. I am eager to delve into litigation and advocacy work as the firm specialises in the same and hope that I can contribute and learn during the course of my training contract.

What are your long term ambitions? 

I aspire to become an established litigator and I see myself as staying in the legal profession for good. While I acknowledge it can be an arduous journey, I believe that this can be overcome by reminding myself daily of the reason why I chose to read Law in the first place.


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