Episode 209 – Eat, Pray, Love or perhaps Collaborate with Rajan Chettiar
This week I went across the oceans for Happy Lawyer Happy Life the international addition and had the chance to catch up with a wonderful colleague and friend Rajan Chettiar. Rajan is a fellow collaborative family lawyer who practices out of Singapore. Our paths crossed a few years ago thanks to our mutual involvement in the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and I have been so grateful for social media for enabling us to keep in touch ever since.
Rajan began his career in law in a large firm in Singapore practicing in banking litigation but a few years in, he found himself in a place many of us can relate to- feeling pretty burned out and questioning whether life in the law was for him. He embarked upon a 4 week trip around India (aka Eat, Pray, Love) and returned with the idea to start his own family law firm and hasn’t looked back since! I have come to know Rajan as a talented Collaborative Lawyer, a wonderful leader and a kind and empathetic professional. In this interview he shared much wise advice on building a fulfilling career in law and ensuring we all find time for ‘life’ too.
In this interview, Rajan and I also chatted about-
- If Rajan was not a lawyer he would have been a social worker. He has a passion for helping others which he first learned of when volunteering at age 14.
- Rajan grew up in Singapore and gives us a snapshot of his upbringing and the multicultural aspects of life in Singapore.
- Singapore is a beautiful country and Rajan describes it as an ‘international food paradise’.
- How Rajan found his way to a career in law.
- Rajan studied law in both the UK and Singapore and shares his experiences studying across two quite different countries.
- These days Rajan is an avid cook which he first learned during his time in the UK.
- Finishing up his studies in the UK Rajan came home to Singapore to sit his bar exam and then worked in a large law firm for 6 years.
- Although Rajan always had aspirations to help others, his first 6 years in lawland were in banking litigation something he enjoyed but that fast led to burnout.
- Rajan explains that banking litigation was a good foundation for becoming a lawyer as it taught him ethics, hard work and how to be a good lawyer.
- The hours Rajan worked in his early years were taxing and brought him to the edge of burn-out. He took a leave of absence and embarked upon a 4 week trip to India. He and I both chuckled at the similarity of this trip with parts of the popular Elizabeth Gilbert ‘Eat Pray Love’.
- While in India, upon reflection, Rajan decided to go back to his core calling – family law. He returned home and set up his own firm.
- The leadership aspect of owning your own business and managing personalities and emotions in the office.
- The importance of the support of Rajan’s wife in building his business.
- Hearing the term ‘ Collaborative Law’ for the first time and Rajan’s love for the non-adversarial approach to separation.
- In 2012 Rajan undertook training in Collaborative Practice from a lawyer here in Melbourne and he was able to take his learnings back and kickstart Collaborative Practice in Singapore.
- The benefits of the collaborative approach.
- The importance of relationships, a sense of community and their impact on our daily happiness.
- ‘Relationships are at the core of the work that we do – it’s really important – for ourselves and the people we work with.’
- Rajan’s tips for managing the stress as a family lawyer and business owner.
- After two burnouts, Rajan learnt the value of self-care and now needs time alone to recharge.
- The shift in the conversation around mental health in Singapore.
- Rajan’s Happiness Tip
Sit back and enjoy this interview with Rajan Chettiar.