2020: A Farewell

Author’s Note: This post was written as of 31.12.2020 and the author has since evolved and came to fresh realizations as she emerged from the fog of the last 7.5 years of her life. As such, much of the contents of this post are no longer applicable in the present circumstances.

It’s the last day of 2020. It is also my official last day at Thomas Philip, the firm where I have spent the last 7.5 years of my life at. I joined the firm back in June 2013 as a first year Associate and I leave today after 2 years of (junior) partnership.

Over the last few days, a couple of my younger colleagues asked me how does it feel to be leaving. My answer to them was that it is exciting for me to see what 2021 has in store for me and I am in fact excited about what I will be doing after I leave. The truth is, I have had 6 months to grieve this decision and to get to where I am today, fully at peace with this decision.

Back in May when I first communicated my intention to leave, my personal circumstances were such that I was convinced that practice was not for me, that I needed a break from legal practice and that this was not a life I wanted to continue living. I was asking myself if the money was worth it, if the hours and demands of the job were worth it? Who and what was I burning for that I am all burnt out? Maybe there is something akin to the “7 year itch” in legal practice too!

Up until that point in my life, I never had doubts that legal practice was my calling. In fact, the thought of ever leaving the firm was never truly a thought I seriously entertained despite the last 2 years becoming increasingly clear that I was struggling, emotionally and physically.

Growth can be messy and uncomfortable

Law firm departures are generally viewed negatively and often, in the day and age of social media, many are waiting for people leaving to “spill the tea”, so to speak. In my case, the only “tea” I’ll be spilling is that my departure is to me nothing more than a result of my own personal growth. The realisation that I am no longer the same person as I was 2 years ago wanting the same things as I had wanted 2 years ago was not easy to fathom. But with time, I began to embrace that what we want in life, including in our professional lives, may change with time and age. The question I repeatedly asked myself in the abundance of time I had during the MCO was if I wanted this same life at 35 and 40. Haha!

Surprisingly, all the voices in my own head answered that question with a resounding and unanimous “No”. Growth can be messy and uncomfortable but as the cliche saying goes, the comfort zone is a dangerous place to be in. So, this is how I ended up where I am now. Taking a leap of faith, getting out of my comfort zone with nothing but hope that it will all work out well for me.

Eternally grateful

I am eternally grateful for what the firm has given me and taught me over the last 7.5 years. It is undoubtedly one of the most unconventional firms out there. I do not know any other place which would embrace individuality the same way Thomas Philip, particularly the Managing Partner, has embraced. It was a place where I didn’t feel I needed to hide who I truly was (though, with hindsight, it may not always be great for the unfortunate souls who had to work with me). In fact, I dare say that I would not have become the person I am today with the confidence I have today (although, as I have previously written, I do struggle very much with impostor syndrome) but for the training and opportunities the firm has given me.

Today, I dare say that I leave behind some of the best colleagues anyone could ever ask for. I wish them and the firm nothing but the best. 2020 has been a terrible year for many but I believe we’ve all witnessed great leadership (controversial social media posts aside!) in steering the firm through a pandemic with no pay-cuts and job cuts. It is a remarkable feat, in my opinion.

The point of this is…?

Up until this point, I’m still not quite sure of the point in me penning this post. I’m not sure I am saying anything at all, really. But this post is really not for anyone. It is for me. It is my way of dealing with my sadness despite my excitement. It will be a lie to say that I wasn’t emotional while writing this piece. But goodbyes are merely new hellos, right?

So, what will I be doing next?

It is most scary to be making this leap of faith in times of a pandemic which I do not think will miraculously be over in 2021. My plans and aspirations for myself in 2021 will revolve more around passion projects which I may have procrastinated or been too fearful to even think of doing before this.

I hope to be spending more time on this space and maybe, I can finally write a belated post on the controversial issue of “Minimum Remuneration for Pupils” from the perspective of a law firm owner. Maybe.

All in all, I am glad 2020 is now behind us but I am also glad that 2020 happened in the way it did. Those of you who helped me through my turbulent 2020, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I could not have gotten out of this year alive, but for you peeps.

If you’ve read till this far, thank you. I wish you a happy new year and nothing but the best in 2021.

Adios for now!

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