Five more questions before you graduate: Joshua Ling

Joshua Ling smiling in front of beautiful landscape
Joshua Ling said studying law was an obvious choice for him, both as an intellectual interest and as a personal endeavour.

For me, the most humbling and enriching experiences came from such opportunities which allowed me to pick up practical legal and advocacy skills

Why did you decided to study law?

I have no talent in math or the sciences, so that made a decision to do law relatively easy! Jokes aside, I have always found myself interested in abstract questions of “why” and “why not”. I enjoy understanding and tracing the relationships between things, and in seeing how things work and turn upon the arrangement of those relationships. As one might easily surmise from this, law was an obvious choice for me; both as an intellectual interest and as a personal endeavour.

What was the best thing about your time at ANU College of Law?

I have a few memorable battle stories that would be familiar to most law students — of caffeine-fuelled days and late nights spent buried in legal texts highlighted in a mad flurry of colours; of the almost transcendental elation at having successfully reduced an entire area of law down to three pages of notes for the exams.

But, looking back, the best things that happen in law school are those that lie outside direct study. My participation in demanding, yet immensely rewarding, law competitions such as the Jessup International Law Moot and the Intercollegiate Negotiation Competition come immediately to mind. For me, the most humbling and enriching experiences came from such opportunities which allowed me to pick up practical legal and advocacy skills through observing, interacting with, and learning from some of the most remarkable law students and teachers that I could ever be privileged to know.

And of course, there is that warm tranquillity that comes when cocooned with your research materials in Whitmore Walk; and being pleasantly surprised when Gummow J drops by to do some photocopying!

What would you say to someone who is thinking about studying law?

Make no mistake, the study of law is trying. Many a time will you feel like Sisyphus pushing the entire collection of the Commonwealth Law Reports up a slippery knoll. You will be confounded, if not, discombobulated. Through no fault of your own, you will begin to make new light of the most peculiar of associations in everyday life — as between ginger beer and snails.

Yet, it would be as if a fog around you is slowly being lifted. You will begin to see a whole different layer to social life that you have never seen before. One that works like an invisible hand, but with very visible touch. The study of law intoxicates as much as it suffocates. It may be difficult from the onset, but it gets better with time. And even if you decide not to be a lawyer, the intellectual training and self-discipline that you gain will put you in good stead wherever you may go.

How did winning a prize help you?

Like many law students, I have experienced varying degrees of diffidence in my legal abilities at various junctures in law school. Although a level of self-circumspection would always be healthy in keeping one on their toes, I think it is common for even the most brilliant among us to experience some form of “imposter” syndrome at some point. Winning prizes have helped in affirming my academic abilities, and it most definitely helped in putting a shine on my CV. However, I maintain that it remains far more vital to commit to consistent prize-winning effort than on winning prizes; only the former lies within your control.

What’s next?

As contingent as life is, one way to know our future might be to invent it. I am currently enrolled in the Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice with ANU. At the same time, I will be studying and working towards my admission into the Singapore bar early next year. There is a thriving space for the development and provision of quality legal services in Asia, and I have been fortunate enough to secure a training contract with a reputable firm in Singapore which specialises in commercial disputes and international arbitration. After five years in university, I don’t foresee myself undertaking further studies any time soon, although I would consider doing so some way into the future.

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team