Bryan Tan (TCFS 2003 and TC 2004) has been both a Foundation Studies and a Residential College student, he’s served in the Singaporean military and in January 2018, he will become a partner in law firm, Nair & Co LLC. We caught up with Bryan to talk about his career journey thus far and gather useful tips and insights for those just starting out their career.
What did you enjoy most at your time at Trinity?
My experience at Trinity (both as a Foundation Studies and Residential College student) was extremely positive. There are too many moments to choose from but I will always remember the warm welcome I received from Seniors at Trinity College. It gave me confidence to express my (sometimes incorrect) ideas and accept teachings from them. Above all, the time spent on the Bulpadock was the most enjoyable. The vast field was a central place where we played, competed, conversed, read, discussed each other's cultures and exchanged ideas. When I go back to Melbourne, I take every opportunity to re-visit the Bulpadock, sit down on the worn wooden benches and think about how far all of us have come since we first stepped into the College. I have no doubt some of these conversations on the Bulpadock shaped the people we are today.
What helped you get through your exam time? Any tips for students?
Hard work and perseverance. Two old fashioned values that have stood the test of time. These values alone however may not be enough. I strongly suggest having study buddies. Get a group of people who come from different backgrounds and cultures. You may be surprised by the different perspectives and insights that people have to offer.
What do you like to do in your leisure time?
I’m always up for a good whodunnit. I also go kayaking and play tennis to get some exercise. I currently serve as President of the University of Melbourne Alumni Association in Singapore and the remainder of my spare time is usually spent making plans to grow the community of active members.
How did you discover your passion for the Law?
I wasn't always committed to learning the Law. I was a terrible law student in my first year. My passion for Law was ignited by Michael Bryan’s Restitution classes. It was in those classes that I came to appreciate the problems and enigmas posed by circumstances that the Law seeks to resolve. Although I did fairly well in Restitution, I was only ever able to harness that growing passion into better grades when Dr David Tan (who was then a Resident Tutor at College) fiercely encouraged me to set higher standards for myself and showed me how to achieve them.
What do you wish you had known when you were first starting out in your career? Is there anything you would have done differently?
The practice of law involves not just the application of law, but also an understanding of human behaviour. It is important to know how your Lead Counsel thinks, how the client thinks, how a witness thinks and importantly, how the Judge thinks. It is a fallacy to think that “exceptions to the rule” are the norm and that they are worth using them in practice since we study so much about them. The reality is that these exceptions are unique and rarely come up in practice. Focus on the basic principles.