Interview Transcript

Part 1: Football Story

Stef 0:00

Hi! I am Stef from Soccer Girl Goals, and we are back with our Career Series. Today we'll be speaking with Cheng Lynn, who is a lawyer practicing in Singapore and also represents Singapore Law Society, also known as LawSoc in football. Lynn, I know that as a lawyer, your time is very precious. So thank you for giving us your time today.

Lynn 0:19

Thank you for having me

Stef 0:21

And thank you for not charging us [laughs]

Lynn 0:23

No, no certainly not [laughs]

Stef 0:25

Okay, let's quickly get started. In this first segment, we'll find out more about how Lynn started playing football. So, Lynn, maybe you can tell us a little bit about yourself first . So like what you are doing now.

Lynn 0:37

Okay. Thanks very much again, for having me. I do hope that I will be of some use to the people who are watching this video today. Okay, so my name is Lynn. I am a third year associate- Litigation Associate in a midsize firm in Singapore. So the work I do generally pertains to civil litigation. I do play soccer for the Law Society team. I came across them while I was a law student in SMU. Prior to that, I did play some... I did play football for my JC. So actually, my footballing years has been around maybe 9? 8 to 9 years they're about. Currently, I'm on rehab from a torn ACL. So I haven't been in action recently. But hopefully I can get back to that soon. So I got started with football in JC but I did always want to try it. I have always seen my family watching football, and it just seemed quite fun to kick a ball. So actually, my interests started as a young kid, but never really had the opportunity in secondary school to participate in this except for PE lessons, which then gave me an insight to football, and also introduced me to the JC team who came and gave— I do recall, the JC team came when we were in Sec four to give a soccer training. And that's how I got introduced to them. And then I joined them for trainings, I think, towards the end of Sec four? And then after that I joined the team in JC one, and then that's when it all started,

Stef 2:33

Then what do you love about football?

Lynn 2:36

Now that you've asked this, I think it's quite hard to pinpoint exactly what, but I do remember enjoying the feeling of just kicking a ball, running around the field. And I mean, I was watching TV, football on TV. I used to think that all those sliding tackles and those free kicks were very fun, very cool. And all those saves by goalkeepers, they're also quite impressive. And it's just, it just seemed like a very fun game to me. People will say, "oh I don't understand why are these people running— eleven people, sorry, twenty-two people running after a ball." But actually, there's a lot of, I would say there's a lot of strategy and thinking too, it's not just people running after the ball. And I think what I do, like about football is that, you know, it's actually quite possible to accomplish a lot with a team. You need— you don't need to have the best skills, don't need to have the best players around, but you can work within what you have, you strategize, and then you play as a team. I've had some matches where we successfully managed to, you know, hold them to a draw, or even edge our win. So that's why I actually love football, you know, I mean, probably applies to other sports as well. But for my experience it's football. Anything can be done. It doesn't mean that once you are deemed to be the weaker team you're bound to lose.

Stef 4:10

What was some of the challenges you face in your football journey?

Lynn 4:16

Wow, quite a few. Mostly happened when I was a student, actually. So first and foremost, it's actually getting to the sport, getting to be able to play the sport was in fact a tall ordeal. I remember when I first wanted to join, I don't think it was very— my parents didn't really think that I should be doing this. You know, they never thought that girls could be playing or should be playing and— and whether the training would be manageable. Plus generally, sport CCAs tend to have quite a hectic training schedule. So I do remember, when we were— when I was trying to get into the team for— as a JC one student prior to that I, I went out and secretly bought some football boots, like, from some dingy shop somewhere just so that I could try and I couldn't let people know. But after that, when I joined the team in JC I realized that most of the girls face the same problem actually hiding this from their parents or, you know, trying to appease their parents that, you know, just because they play this and just because they get tanner, you know, nothing's going to change. They're still going to study, they're still going to be on top of things. So that's the first one actually getting approval to play the game. But after that, they realize that, you know, I have passion for it, I really wanted to do it. And so they just like, okay, they just relented. And then they supported me like, towards, I mean, throughout my footballing journey as a student. So moving on to other challengers, as a student, certainly the difficulty was with managing studies. As a JC student, it was quite, I would say scary. Because the big matches were, I remember, I think, middle of the year. And at that point, some people were gunning up for A Levels already. And so the teachers were also getting— putting some pressure on us. I remember there were like, common tests, right? CTs, common tests. So obviously, I flunked it! I don't even know what's going on. That was quite tough, because I remember we were training quite intensely, I think around three times a week, and every time when I go home— just very tired. Like, my whole body is just like shutting down already. And I remember lying in bed with just an ice pack, here and there, just like not able to physically come up to sit up and study. And because that was also— we're gunning up for, I think, A Division. So we were really putting our heart and soul into it. So my mind wasn't really switched on for school or rather I thought I was switched on, but probably not as switched on as I could have been. Having said that, however, eventually A Levels happened. And I survived. Through a skin on my teeth, I managed to pull through painfully. So that was the one-off incident in A Levels. Then came uni, which was more like a constant pain. Because for four years, every semester, you expect finals that contribute to your grades. And every semester, there will be a tournament. So then, that was also quite tiring. There were a lot of readings to do in law school, tremendous amounts of reading, I don't think I actually went through all of them. Yeah, probably— probably didn't. Really too much to read. So there was a bit of a struggle as well. I remember going to the library very early, trying to get in some readings before class started. Because then at night, I had training. So I'll be in school from morning till when the class ended, then after that in the evening, go for soccer. And then go home, wash, rinse, repeat. So at the end of— at the back of my mind was always like, will my grades be able to make it? Especially since law school is quite competitive, your grades matter. And also, there's a minimum requirement for you to hit. If not, you will not be able to take the bar exam. And so I think those were one of the more significant challenges I faced while trying to juggle both soccer as well as my other commitments as well. Yeah.

Stay tuned for our second segment: Career in Football

Interview Transcript

Part 2: Career & Football

Stef 0:00

Now we can move on to the second segment where we talk about your career and football. Maybe introduce like what you do at work. How much time you spend at work and what is the situation right now?

Cheng Lynn 0:13

What I do at work, so I mean litigation. So that is your typical court room lawyer that you see on TV and everything. So of course, when you see on TV is the end of the trail. Prior to this there are a lot of other applications that you think of. From day one all the way before you go to trail, so those are known as interlocutory applications. So as litigation lawyers, what we do is we fight lawsuits, until all those applications like I just talked about and those various court attendants are required before you actually hit trial. So that's what we do, we prepare our clients for the eventual trail. I mean aside from the lawsuits itself, we also do some advisory work as well prior to commencing a lawsuit. We advise our clients whether or not this is a viable course of action, whether you can reach a settlement with the other side without going to court actually because going to court is actually quite time consuming for the party. It's very expensive as well. So sometimes if there's alternatives, we will offer them to consider alternative dispute resolution. So, for example mediation, it's getting more and more popular in Singapore. Sometimes, you need to start a suit before people are willing to negotiate with you. So this actually is quite similar to what I mentioned previously about the strategy in soccer. Actually, I'm starting to see some overlaps here. How you get to do what you want to achieve at the end of the day, there are many ways to skin a cat. The thing I do appreciate about litigation is that there are many things you can do to get what you want, or what your clients want at the end of the day. A brainstorming process, coming out with different strategies to, for example, increase my bargaining power or to just present to the other side that we do have a strong defense, or we do have a viable counterclaim. All these are factors that we will consider mounting a good case for our clients. So, time wise, I think after COVID, it got a bit better in that we are now ready to work from home. I don't actually have to spend so much time in the office. Although I do go back regularly now days by the nature of the world is that you can expect a 9 to 6 job, you know sometimes urgent things happen or calls come in you have to attend to it.

Stef 3:22

That sounds like work is quite time consuming. How do you find the time to still play football?

Cheng Lynn 3:30

Yeah, it's quite time consuming. But sometimes what I do is that I do see football as a break for myself. Maybe instead of getting stressed at work, I get stressed on the field. Ya I see it as a kind of break for myself lah! And also, at the end of the day I'd like to think that there are certain tasks, that I do wish it may not need the entire time that I set myself, for example, if I think that this task may take, If I set 10 hours in a day that I'm free. I will not try to use these 10 hours fully because these 10 hours, maybe only 5-6 hours are productive. The rest of it I might just be scrolling my phone or watching YouTube, or just getting distracted. Or just thinking and not actually getting down to doing it. So, there's this saying, which is “time expands itself to fill work”. So, when I factor in my other commitments like soccer or my other volunteering commitments, I pack it in there, this actually forces myself to be more productive and efficient.

When it comes to doing the work, I mean it sounds great now but it's a struggle when I actually do it, of course it is easy to say, but that's how I try to approach it. Because I actually don't need so much time to do the task, I actually can get it done. I just shouldn't sit on it. And also, because I am not intrinsically motivated, I can't tell myself, ok Lynn you don't need 10 hours you just need 5, you better finish this in 5. If there's nothing else at me, I might just take the whole 10. But if I'm like, I actually gotta go, I really should get this done. This actually, indirectly has helped make me become more efficient if you get what I mean.

Stef 5:31

I think I get what you mean

Cheng Lynn 5:35

In a way it does promote some time management skills as well.

Stef 5:41

Okay, then. Would you say that playing football has influenced or like impacted your work? Are there like some skills or lessons you learned from football that like translate into your work?

Cheng Lynn 5:56

I think when we are thinking about skills, we will be thinking of something which are more like soft skills. If you're watching this and you're not sure, there are actually lots of skills that can be transferred from your football or sporting career, or journey into work, all these are actually skills you pick up and you grow as a person. And these actually come in useful whether or not you are playing on the field or in the courtroom or you're in a business meeting. So, I think Stef, I mentioned earlier that time management. That's a factor quite greatly in my day to day, I really need to manage time if I need to do all this, right? Another thing about football that helped I guess is discipline. As student, as a player, we all have to go through all this necessary pain, and sometimes at work you really just have to go through some painful days to get the work done. Sometimes the work we do is very document intensive, you need to go through everything. Sometimes we push to the late night, and I do think that discipline is quite a big thing. Another thing that I think would be quite relevant to my line of work is that when I was playing, I started to realize that I might be a bit competitive in a team setting. I have never really considered myself a competitive student, my grades were like ok lah, never mind. But when it came to a team sport, I was like OMG we can't lose, we must win or like even if we can't win, never mind, we just can't lose, or we can't make it easy for them. And then I realized that actually this mindset, or I mean mentality, to some extend is actually quite helpful for my nature of work, which involves putting my client's best case forward and taking out applications to help them further their interest against other. Sometimes the other side can be quite aggressive as well, so how do we you know, get pass that and deal with that. So actually, I do see quite a bit of relevance when you talk about all these skills like I mentioned previously. The strategies that we come up with for football, you know and how we do it will work. For example, if you know that this team gets flustered easily or they are under pressure, a lot of pressure to win. Every minute you hold them, it's a victory to yourself. So similarly, you may have a very aggressive opponent on the other end, you need to be able to manage that and use whatever facts whatever documents whatever information I had or that your client has given you, to the best of your ability. It involves a lot of strategizing as well; it's not just going in blindly to fight. Or if they say something you disagree, you must fight them on, that's when I think, okay, if I say something to refute them, will this help my case, or will I end up shooting myself in the foot? Sometimes a few months later. So, all these are what I said are the "soft skills" that are actually relevant across whether or not you are playing football, basketball, handball or anything, or just working as a lawyer or any other profession. When you go beyond just running and kicking and catching. There are a lot of overlaps I would say.

Stay tuned for our third segment: Career Advice

Interview Transcript

Part 3: Career Advice

Stef 0:00

Now on to the third segment. We had talked about the challenges faced and my advice for anyone wanting to have a career and still play football. So what challenges do you face when juggling football and career?

Lynn 0:18

I would say I mean, I think I briefly... we did briefly discuss this just now as well. It's really just managing your time and also managing expectations, actually, what do you want to achieve out of your footballing journey? Do you intend to, you know, play a very high level? Play at very leisure level? Or you want to play in a setting where you are somewhat competitive, but it's not quite at that level that you used to play in school, for example, which is probably me for now. So, I think you need to have reasonable expectations of what you can do. But don't shy away from it entirely because you're worried. I mean, of course I too, had that fear as a student, especially. I think the fear was the most real in A levels because they said your A levels will determine what uni you go to, which will determine the career for the rest of your life. And that was at the back of my mind time. It was just one exam and if you mess it up, it's really "ah good luck for you." So manage your expectations, know what you want to do. At the same time, don't shy away from trying. Like what I mentioned earlier, I do believe that there are a lot of things that we need, we don't need the full extent of time for us to do. So if let's say, you have eight hours a day, and you're a student and you're studying. Maybe just resolve about one and a half hours of that to pursue your sports, you know. And then the rest of the day you spend with your family, and then your revisions. I think that would help. Like, at least it helped for me, because for myself, as I mentioned, I'm not intrinsically motivated. So only it's only when I schedule in something and I'm like "oh dear I don't have time, I better get down to doing my work." And actually that made me more productive and efficient. And so, I think if you are interested in pursuing any sport, you can try it out with my mindset. You just do it. And then you... In a sense, it forces you to do it. Because when you schedule in something, it makes you more efficient for the rest of the day. So actually, it can be done. I also must have caveat. I do think that I have an understanding boss. So it's not like I'm expected to be on standby 24 hours, seven days a week. They do respect our weekends. I mean, certainly, there are certain times when there's no choice, you have to deal with the matters over the weekend, because there's an urgent injunction, for example. Or it's just... You're rushing deadlines, clients give you further instructions, and you realize, "oh we have to tweak it a little bit." So there are those days for sure. But I do appreciate that my bosses are very reasonable and understanding. And so they do sort of give us this time off for your own personal matters. And I do appreciate that.

Stef 3:52

Okay, so thanks so much for sharing about your career and football. And thank you everyone else for tuning in to our career series brought to you by Soccer Girl Goals and Passion FC. We hope that this series can show people that playing football and having passion for football can provide opportunities for you both within and also beyond football.

So thank you so much.

Lynn 4:15

Thanks Stef for having me, thank you!

We have more #TheCareerSeries interviews coming up next week. Stay tuned!