Pupillage during the pandemic

Pupillage during the pandemic

Pupillage during the pandemic

In this uncanny period of the pandemic, many rules and regulations in Malaysia are experiencing changes. Legal service is part of the essential service. Hence, many law firms remain in operation to serve the public.

Rahayu Partnership is one of them that continues their service. The pupillage experience during the pandemic is one of a kind. Not only the pupils have to adapt to the new virtual legal experience. Law firms are also extremely new to grooming pupils virtually.

As the vaccination rate is reaching the national’s target, some law firms have resorted to physical work. But, some other law firms remain fully remote or hybrid. So, we have a pupil that is willing to share her story.

You should ask yourself this question

What is a meaningful pupillage? This is a question that was asked by Siti (to herself). A wonderful question that every pupil should ask before they start one.

Siti, the new pupil in the firm, has been working for Rahayu Partnership for 5 months. She is definitely an ambitious, firm and bubbly person. She used to handle conveyancing matters during her internship.

Currently, she is primarily handling litigation matters. The common fears for a pupil are incompatible working dynamic, no meaningful work or a toxic working environment. Read more to find out more about her sharing.

A meaningful pupillage is...

It was a medium-firm and Nabilah was with another 9-10 pupils. There were many restrictions in the firm. Such as, pupils can’t eat in the pantry, no individual desktop or workspace, etc. The purpose of going through a pupillage is to learn how to manoeuvre in the legal profession. Yet, the law firm prioritizes something else, such as completing clerical work or dispatch.

Also, the firm’s culture was one of a kind. Pupils were not allowed to leave the office before 7 pm even they are done for the day. The environment in that firm has significantly restrained Nabilah from growing. Despite knowing the pupillage would be challenging, it was still beyond Nabilah’s capacity.

Nabilah leapt and decided to leave the firm after two weeks working there. It was a tough decision, yet the best decision she has ever made.

Pupils have to make the right choice for themselves

When the working dynamic is incompatible with the master, pupils must ponder what else they can do. They can stay and try to communicate and do some expectation management with their master. Or make the right choice for themselves.

Siti provided an example from her experience. She had a friend that found it impossible to work with her firm (at the time). She tried hard to communicate with her master and did her best to make the best out of her pupillage.

But, she failed to change the work environment and can only do so much. Thus, she made the decision to quit and she is doing better at a new firm.

Ultimately, pupillage is a learning period. So, always go the extra mile in learning. At the end of the day, we are the ones that have to conclude whether what kind of pupillage is meaningful for ourselves.

How to choose a law firm?

During the interview, she stressed a lot about doing research beforehand. Siti made an effort to research when finding an ideal firm. Such as, she googled it, whether it is a Legal 500, read their website (if they have one).

Ask around to understand more about a law firm. Pupils can ask the seniors or employees that work in the law firm as well. That would be a better gauge of a law firm.

That is how Siti made her decision to work in Rahayu Partnership. It was based on her senior’s feedback.

The fear of working during a pandemic

The fear is real and there is no shame to admit that. For Siti, it is crucial to choose a law firm that is supportive and cares about the employee’s well-being. Work is vital but ensuring everyone is safe too.

She shared that Rahayu Partnership is attentive to employees taking their vaccination. RP is kind and understandable for allowing the employee to rest for those who are sick due to the vaccine. In addition, RP even provides a COVID self-test kit to ensure the employee’s health is in check.

The work dynamic in this firm

Mostly, the employees are working from home. But, as Siti works in the litigation team, it requires them to be physically present in the office. It is for trials or brainstorming sessions. Of course, it is done with a limited number of people in the office.

Siti, as a pupil, she works closely with the associates. Her master will monitor and review her work occasionally. If there are any issues, her master will conduct a meeting to discuss further.

How to measure work performance

Siti stated that working in a team, there would be a set of datelines for each task from drafting to finalization. Also, before finalizing the work, her master and other associates will actively review her work.

Communication system

There is a group chat created for the pupils. So that, the communication part is open up to everyone and they can voice out. And Siti’s master set up an excellent example of being open and asking for feedback from the pupils (of the master).

Her master even asks for feedback on how the law firm can improve in future. Also, the master cares about whether the pupils get their desired exposure in the firm.

For that, Siti personally really respects her master for being thoughtful and it made it easier for pupils to communicate freely in the firm.

The opportunity for personal growth

Siti would like to point out that her master is very supportive for her pupils to acquire knowledge. Her master allows the pupils to explore and even attain knowledge outside of the firm.

Her master always reminds the pupils to attend more webinars and sometimes even paid for the webinars. Recently, her master supported her to join an advocacy training seminar held by the Bar Council.

It was beneficial to Siti as she met many good lawyers and judges that shared their knowledge. They were kind enough to provide feedback to her. And her master also provides books and relevant articles to the pupils to read.


Siti expressed that she has a relatively good experience of working in this firm. But, personally, she craves physical interaction with her colleagues. She is grateful to match her master’s working style.

Disclaimer: This article portrays her personal experience and does not infer that every Malaysia’s law firm’s culture is that way.

By Rahayu Partnership, Malaysia
Law Firm Website: www.rahayupartnership.com


Rahayu Partnership is a boutique law firm specializing largely in admiralty, marine insurance and general and commercial litigation work. The firm is part of the Joseph Tan Jude Benny (JTJB) Global Network and this unique association with JTJB has made us the most dynamic and progressive maritime law firm in Malaysia, exporting our skills and services to the world. Our firm has considerable expertise in both contentious and non-contentious aspects of shipping law, advising on matters ranging from ship arrest and release, collision, charter parties, sale & purchase of ships, cargo claims to marine casualties and from admiralty processes to insurance law.

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