Insights from corporate lawyer Marcus van Geyzel on taking your legal career beyond the ordinary.
There is a vast number of lawyers in Malaysia (at last count, there are 16,104 of us), with an ever-increasing number of law graduates coming into the market every year.
I’m often asked for insights on how pupils and young lawyers can set themselves apart in this crowd. These 10 tips are a condensed version of what I usually share — if you want the extended version, buy me a coffee and we’ll talk.
First off, I should make clear that these tips obviously aren’t magic beans that will instantly convert a mediocre lawyer into a good one. There are so many career possibilities open to law graduates, so it’s impossible to have a fixed formula.
There isn’t even an agreed definition of what a ‘lawyer’ is. The basic categories used in Malaysia are ‘corporate lawyer’ and ‘litigation lawyer’ (as all lawyers here are ‘advocates and solicitors’) — but countless nuances exist within these broad, clumsy categorisations. What one lawyer does on a daily basis can be extremely different from what another lawyer does, so these tips will have to be adapted accordingly.
Why do some lawyers seem to excel — at work and in life — while others struggle to make sense of the profession? How come some seem to have boundless enthusiasm for their work even after a decade, while others are burnt out and disillusioned within five years?
I don’t pretend to have a magic formula to building an awesome legal career. But I guarantee that anyone who practises these 10 tips will have a better chance at staying ahead of the disillusioned and unmotivated crowd who see lawyering as ‘just a job’.