Serwat Perwaiz keeps things legal
"The line between career and social life blurs if you really like to do what you do."
Serwat Perwaiz went to law school in the US before deciding to base herself in China and work with PRC lawyers and multinational companies on market-entry and international property. Her work involves aiding multinational companies wanting to purchase and set up businesses in China. Teacher Emily Williams’ year 11 business studies class from Yew Chung International School had an opportunity to ask Serwat some questions about her profession and how the law effects us all.
Shyam Iyer, Indian
You’re the sort of lawyer who acts as an intermediary and who does deals. Do you have any experience in court?
Serwat Perwaiz: Before I worked in China, I worked with a number of different organizations that represented individual people in court in the US. But now, I help people who are seeking solutions for their companies, so I don’t need to go to court. Instead, my work involves negotiating between two sides. My job is to prevent things from going as far as court.
Michelle Chung, Malaysian
Was law school difficult?
SP: Law school is not a piece of cake. They keep you busy and working hard. But then, the idea is to do what you enjoy doing, even if you have to work hard. I really enjoyed it. A lot of the classes I took were geared towards my particular interest. I took classes on copyright, like if you write something and someone else uses it; I think in school you call it plagiarism! Hopefully, you guys know something about the rules on that. I also took a lot of classes on international law and what happens in different countries. It’s like everything: There are some classes that I enjoyed and some that I didn’t.
Sarah Paw, American-Chinese
Do you think you can have a good job and a good social life?
SP: I think you can have both. [With] everything in life you really need to know what you want out of it. Rather than wander around aimlessly, you have to sit down and think about what it is you want to do and what is going to get you there. I knew what I wanted to do and I knew there were a lot of paths that could take me there. I could have gotten an MBA. I could have gone into government or so many other things depending on what my goals were. I chose law because I enjoy law. The line between career and social life blurs if you really like to do what you do.
Lucy Wang, American
How long do you have to study in law school before you can become a lawyer?
SP: It depends on the country where you study. In the US, you get your bachelor’s first, which is usually four years, and then you go on to law school, which is three years. In other countries, it can be less. It just depends on where you want to go to school.
Sinlai Leung, Hong Kong-Chinese
What’s the best thing about being a lawyer?
SP: There are so many good things about being a lawyer, but there are so many difficult things as well. I enjoy it when I’ve put together something that’s really going to help my client out. Not because I’m working for this side and I want to make it difficult for the other side; it’s not like that. I think of it like I’m working with two sides and I want to help them find a solution. I think that’s the best part.
Li Ren Kho, Malaysian
Can it be stressful trying to find an agreement?
SP: Sometimes it can be stressful because the two sides aren’t willing to give, even a little. It’s the same if anyone has an argument, be it two children fighting over a toy train or two companies fighting over how much money they are going to invest. Both sides are eventually going to figure out that there’s going to have to be a little give-and-take. The ideal is to find a win-win situation for both sides.
Stefen Zhao, Canadian
Have you ever made any mistakes in your career?
SP: Yes. But that’s okay because mistakes are only bad when you don’t learn from them. I think that when you make a mistake, whether it’s in your career, or whether it’s in your schoolwork or at home or with your friends, the most important thing is to recognize the mistake and find a way to make it better. Then, don’t make the mistake again.