My Firm Life: The Interview

I have a friend who e-mailed to me these questions for her class. I decided to post it also here so that you could have a brief updated with what I am doing and why I can’t blog at all. Anyway, I feel so unfulfilled these days that I think, I’ll start releasing my stress through writing starting this week. I hope I won’t be so sappy or overly emotional.

  1. Can you give a little background about yourself, your current position and the firm that you are associated with?
  • I am Maris Angelica Ayuyao, 27 years old and a graduate of the University of the East College of Law. I am a new lawyer. In fact, I only signed the roll of attorney this April 29, 2015. I am an Associate Lawyer in RRV Legal Consultancy Firm. It is a small law firm in 12 Scout Rallos St., Barangay Laging Handa, Quezon City.
  1. Is this a small, medium or big sized firm? What is the organizational structure of the firm? What are the pros and cons of working in a ____ sized firm?
  • It is a small firm. It is composed only of my boss, Atty. Redemberto R. Villanueva, who is the managing partner, and three associate lawyers, including myself. However, we sometimes team up with other law firms in other cases.
  1. How did you apply for the position? How was the application process?
  • I sent my resume and they immediately scheduled me for an interview. Atty. Villanueva interviewed me and after a few days, his secretary then called me and asked me on when I can start waiting for them.
  1. Before joining the firm, did you not consider working for the government? If no, why not? If yes, what was the main factor that motivated you to join a law firm instead?
  • I actually considered working for the government; however, I felt that really wanted to practice law and most likely, I have to transfer to the province if I have to work in PAO which did not appeal to me.
  1. As a/an [position], what are your responsibilities? How long have you been working as a/an [position] and how is it so far (workload, stress level)? Is it rewarding? Challenging?
  • As an associate lawyer, my responsibilities include attending hearings and meetings for the firm and a lot of writing not only pleadings but also contracts, memorandum of agreement and demand letters. I’ve been working for three months now in RRV and I am telling you this, it is a lot harder than I expected. There is no fixed work hour of work. There is no overtime pay. My health is also faltering now. But so far I am coping and learning.
  1. Can you give us a sneak peek on how a day in the life of a/an [position] looks like?
  • There is no fixed schedule for a practitioner. There are days wherein you have hearings from two different cities and when you come to the office, there is a client waiting for you for a meeting. You also need to constantly check your firm’s e-mail for communication with your other clients. But whatever happens in your day, you must always give time to drafting your pleadings and legal opinions.
  1. Please tell us about your first case and client. Have you encountered any clients who are difficult to deal with? Or do you know someone who has encountered such a client? Any tips on handling those instances?
  • I do not have my personal client yet but I could probably tell you the story of the first case which I drafted the complaint. The plaintiff, Mr. X, told me that somebody owes him money but he cannot collect money from him because his debtor does not want to pay him. That’s all he told me. Then, he sent an envelope with documents. In there, I saw a lot of copies of bounced checks, promissory notes and some letter of demand. It was so overwhelming and it took me sometime to understand the whole story. I realized that clients just do not trust their lawyers, they expect you to know everything right away.
  • The clients which are difficult to deal with are the following: First, the greedy clients who do not want to compromise. I have now one who really insists on bringing to the court a twelve-thousand pesos penalty charge despite being a multi-millionaire. Second, those who do not listen to your proposed legal action and insist their own way. You have to talk to them clearly about the consequences of the actions they want to happen.
  1. Before joining the firm, what were your expectations? Have those expectations been met? Are there any surprises? Like, are you doing things now that you did not expect to do?  
  • A catch-all answer to all the questions above is this: practice is a lot different than what is taught in law school. The spoiler here is that we really have a very sick justice system. But this is the challenge for all new lawyers like me: whether we maintain our idealism or just go with the system. I choose the former.
  1. On what branch of law are you planning to specialize in?
  • Criminal law. I want to become a Prosecutor someday.
  1. What values or skills did you learn from working in a law firm?
  • Time management. You would need this the most in dealing with all your clients. Also, always be calm. Always have grace under pressure.
  1. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Do you see yourself climbing the corporate ladder and becoming a partner or forming your own law firm? Or would you transfer and work, say, with a private corporation?
  • I see myself as a humble public employee, working as a Prosecutor in Quezon City. I could also teach, if I have time. I would like to pay what I know about law, forward.
  1. With your experience, so far, in working in a law firm, do you recommend it to future bar passers? Why?
  • Yes, I recommend all future bar passers to work in a law firm in order for them to fully discern their career path in law. Most likely, you would be exposed to all types of cases in working in a law firm.
  1. What is the most important thing that you realized upon practicing law?
  • That learning does not end after you pass the bar. You still have to read, update yourself with the latest jurisprudence and make sure that you know the news. This is because after passing the bar, the law is no longer things you study for your own benefit. More than ever, you need to understand the law because it is now affecting the lives of real people. In practice, the law now means the life and property of your clients, the people who are asking for your help.
  1. To conclude, do you have any words for those who are considering of joining a law firm? What skills and qualities do you think one must possess if he plans of joining a firm? Tips/advice?
  • You cannot expect to be wealthy right away as an associate. In fact, you would be surprised on how little pay you are going to receive from your bosses, which are the partners. Do not think of this as unfair. It is really difficult to earn a name for oneself in our field. It takes years of hardship and prayers to be in their position. I talked about the skills needed above so I’d go right away to qualities. I think the best qualities one must possess in joining a firm is humility and obedience. Be humble that there are so many things you do not know yet and be obedient in following your bosses. Trust me, they know better than you.

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