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Voices of the Past: A Reflection from TLS Student Leaders

With the ushering in of the new board of directors, it is now time to say goodbye to the capable and respectable boards of the 2020/2021 term. In this article, Lexicon had the privilege of catching up with all the leaders of the previous boards for all of Taylor’s Law School’s Societies. They candidly shared their thoughts and experiences regarding their year of leadership with us. We have with us, Jing Huei from Taylor’s Law Society, Kelvin from ALSA Taylor’s, Charmaine from Taylor’s Mooting Society, Xue Xi from CRELDA, Joel from the Legal Aid Centre and of course, Nimesha from Lexicon!

The first question we asked them was why they decided to take up their leadership position.

Many of our leaders had their humble beginnings with various other positions on the board. After having a taste of what their respective societies had to offer, they decided to take a leap of faith and run for the leadership roles. Some were unexpectedly offered the position by (a very happy) happenstance, while others felt that the position would be a good opportunity to enhance their employability, develop their leadership skills as well as contribute back to those around them-- whether it be the law students or the community in general.

Next, we asked them what their proudest achievement over the course of their tenure was. For most of our leaders, seeing the board’s hard work come to fruition would probably be the most rewarding aspect of their tenure. Launching the Internship Programme, despite the many problems posed with the pandemic, was undoubtedly one of the most ambitious initiatives by Jing Huei and her team. This definitely tops the list of their proudest achievements, judging from all the positive responses from participants of the programme. Joel, Xue Xi and Kelvin were also especially happy with the various initiatives that their teams managed to successfully launch across social media, with aims to educate followers on various areas of the law, promote writing amongst students as well as increase the existing membership engagement respectively. Watching the Mooting Society grow and increase its standing amongst the other law schools has also been especially heartening for Charmaine, especially when this presents more opportunities for her members to moot competitively. Finally, having Lexicon deviate from its usual style and produce more enjoyable and educational articles for the students has definitely been the highlight of Nimesha’s term.

We then peered behind the curtain, to talk to them about their motivations, support systems and their biggest challenges.

Their motivations:

Leading a society is no easy feat, so it comes to no surprise that all of the leaders were especially thankful for a supportive Board of Directors. Between juggling personal and academic commitments, having a team of committed and understanding members was especially encouraging, both in good times and bad times. They’ve also been vocal about their gratitude towards their respective teacher advisors and other faculty members of the Law School, who have been actively involved since day one and ready to offer advice whenever needed. Lastly, having a strong familial support system has proven to be of paramount importance, especially in times of uncertainty and doubt.

Their leadership challenges:

For the most part, open communication between team members was not something that came easily, especially in the beginning. This occasionally led to misunderstandings and a lack of cohesion within the team itself, however these problems were eventually resolved after everyone learnt to familiarise themselves with each other. The transition from a largely physical setting to a virtual one was also tricky to tackle, as the societies scrambled for innovative ways to maintain membership engagement. Understandably, having to shoulder so many responsibilities during such unprecedented times is also no easy feat and on some days the situation may seem bleak and one would seriously question their own abilities. However, we believe that this is something that resonates with most, if not all of us, so kudos to our leaders for pulling through!

For all you readers at home, we also spoke to them about what they gained from their terms. Essentially we’ve boiled it down to these 3 points:

  • Soft skills. Being in a position of leadership meant that they had to liaise with various parties within and beyond the law school, so honing their communication and problem-solving skills has definitely been one of the greatest takeaways. Of course, problem-solving can also include asking others for help when you need it, and this is something that our leaders have learnt to do, even if it means going out of their comfort zone.

  • Impartiality. In some cases our leaders had to work with their closest friends, so it was especially important to remember when to draw the line, and to always make decisions in the interest of the society, rather than letting their own feelings cloud their judgment.

  • Happiness! Being able to fully immerse themselves in something they’re passionate about has truly been a dream, and one they wouldn’t trade for anything else.

We then encouraged them to toot their horns a little bit, by telling us what they think or hope has been the impact of their leadership.

One of the most crucial factors for any leader is sustenance. Ensuring that your hardwork will outlive your tenure and continue to thrive in the years to come! Kelvin hopes that the framework he has established during his tenure can serve as a reliable guideline for future initiatives, while Xue Xi hopes that she managed to fulfill her role as a reliable and welcoming leader. On the other hand, Jing Huei hopes that she managed to enhance the students’ law school experience by providing guidance despite the limitations posed by the pandemic. For Nimesha, she hopes that Lexicon’s many efforts to deliver quality articles has managed to capture the interest of the students (like you!) and will continue to do so in the future. Charmaine firmly believes that passion should be the driving force behind everything we do, and she hopes that this has been especially prevalent throughout her term of leadership. Finally, Joel was especially glad that he and his team managed to uphold the values of LAC and make a positive impact on those around them, but he also hopes that this will continue on with the subsequent batches.

Now, life is a roller coaster ride. For every high point we reach, there is an equally low point that we have to work through. And alas, there will be some things that we always wish we could have done better.

When asked to reflect on some of the things they could have done better, it was apparent that most of our leaders shared similar sentiments. The untimely arrival of the pandemic meant some of the societies had struggled to adapt to a new normal. For instance, Joel shared that with the largely outdoor-based nature of Street Law projects they were no longer able to proceed with the usual carnivals and expeditions. Hence, they had to come up with fresh ideas, which was definitely no easy feat at times. Acknowledging the difficulties of making new friends online, Jing Huei and her team had also tried to brainstorm various events for the new students while complying with SOPs, but ultimately this proved to be impossible. On the other hand, some of the leaders felt that their inexperience occasionally posed a challenge to achieve certain goals. Charmaine believed that having more personal mooting experience might have helped her formulate better training plans, while Xue Xi felt that experience in leadership roles would have helped her more in areas like guiding and communicating with the other members. For Nimesha, she admitted that she could have been more realistic with her goals for Lexicon, and in hindsight this meant that she would have prioritised certain projects over others.

Given the tumultuous year they have endured and the wisdom we are sure they have attained, we asked our leaders what lesson yhey would like to impart on everyone reading.

They definitely had many words of wisdom to share, however in essence it all boils down to the these points:

  1. Get out of your comfort zone! If you feel passionate about something, try not to overthink it and just embrace the challenges ahead. Some of us might feel insecure about our lack of experience or qualifications (yes, even the leaders too!), but in their experience, the journey is what makes it all worthwhile in the end. Whether it be developing communication skills or maturing as a person in general, you will definitely find yourself in a better position than when you started. Besides, you have absolutely nothing to lose by trying, so why not?

  2. The journey towards a law degree isn’t always an easy one. With the sheer amount of reading that is expected as well as society’s perception of the course in general, it does nothing but perpetuate the stereotype that the life of a law student only revolves around hitting the books. Albeit important, getting the perfect grades or memorising the textbooks shouldn’t be your only purpose in law school because being a lawyer is so much more than that. Getting involved in various clubs and societies in the Law School would be a good opportunity to apply your knowledge in real life, but more importantly always listen to your heart and do the things you genuinely enjoy. Sometimes we might feel pressured to stick to a specific path because it seems like “the correct thing to do”, but in reality there are so many different opportunities just waiting to be explored. University life will be over in a blink of an eye, so remember to take advantage of this time to become the best version of yourself!

On behalf of Lexicon, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all the student leaders for their contribution towards the Law School over the past year. This year has undoubtedly been a difficult one, and we can only imagine the many unconventional challenges that have arisen throughout their tenure. However, we believe that it has nonetheless been an enlightening journey for everyone, as Joel has aptly put:

“Law school is what you make of it. The journey in law school depends on how one approaches things as they come, so do not rely on others’ experiences but make some of your own.”

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