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My story so far
Singapore associate Jean Renaldy

May 2024: Jean Renaldy is a Corporate associate in the Singapore office. He looks back on his career at White & Case so far, with advice for the next generation and the lessons he’s learned on the way.

I didn’t grow up wanting to be a lawyer
Growing up in Jakarta, Indonesia, the concept of being an international lawyer was very foreign to me and my family. When I got a scholarship to study in Singapore, I was exposed to the idea of studying law and decided to continue my studies in the UK. There, I participated in the Jessup moot debate competition, which is when I got to know White & Case. 

It’s great that my own background is so aligned with the Firm’s growth strategy
Back when I applied for a training contract in 2012, the Firm was focusing on Indonesia as a growth area. In fact, it was a discussion point in my final interview. Fast-forward eight years and it feels like a full circle moment, being an associate now in the Singapore office working on growing our business in Indonesia.

No matter what office, it always has that “White & Case” feeling...
From my trainee secondment in New York, previous base in London and now Singapore, there’s always that warmth and collegiate atmosphere. 

...but the pace can also be distinctly different
You get exposed to the business development side of your career much faster in Singapore. It’s been a very steep learning curve trying to get my head around how to prepare for pitches, client meetings and juggling all of that on top of my normal job as a corporate lawyer.

Client secondments give you an invaluable perspective on what we do as lawyers
My first-ever client secondment experience was working within a private equity firm. It gave me an amazing insight into how clients work and what is important from their perspective. You really see the view from the other side of the table. 

I have always enjoyed the intellectual challenge of the work
The mechanics of translating agreed commercial terms in transaction documents always fascinates me, and the nuances that the language creates when you start putting pen to paper. Additionally, I also enjoy business development, thinking about how we can build relationships with certain clients and also coming up with ideas for strategies for a sector on a longer-term basis. 

As a junior, your attitude is key
One thing that I did well was to put my head down and work really hard. I remember always trying to be keen toward receiving new work and also taking opportunities to do different types of work or work with different partners. 

The one thing I wish I had done differently...
...Is to have developed a mentoring relationship with someone a bit earlier in my career. I struggled slightly at a certain point as a junior and almost burnt myself out. This is something that might have been avoidable had I had a bit more guidance on how I should regulate my work and life boundaries, something I only learned through experience and advice from more senior people later in my career. 

My advice to future trainees is to know how to take advantage of working here
Really understand the international and connected nature of the Firm. I still find it quite mind-blowing that on a daily basis I am communicating with people from at least five to seven different countries, as well as the opportunity to travel. And aside from the day-to-day job, there are also plenty of pro bono and other initiatives to get involved in.

What “Making Your Mark” means to me
The first is being Indonesian by background and now working in the Indonesian market, it’s quite exciting to try and apply the knowledge I have acquired in a more mature market like London, to a market like Indonesia. It makes you feel like you could really be a pioneer/be at the forefront of the market here. 

My involvement in our Diversity & Inclusion Committee and APAC LGBTQ+ Spectrum network has also been an exciting journey, given the prevailing cultural norms and conceptions here. I do hope that our initiatives and work can help to start shift perceptions and have a real impact in the communities we live in. 

Work hard and hone your skills
The best advice I have been given was from a partner in London when I was still a trainee. He told me that for the first three years of my career, I should just focus on working hard and honing my skills. Once you’ve built a strong foundation for yourself, the world is your oyster. Truer words have never been spoken, and his advice definitely made an impact on how I have pursued my career so far.