Thursday, April 2, 2015

Law and Order

Two friends walking through a graveyard passed by a headstone inscribed : “ Here lies a lawyer and an honest man.” They say to each other, “ Times  are  so bad that two people have to share a plot of burial ground.”

With all the lawyer jokes being spun around, admittedly lawyers are  not one of the most beloved professionals.I still remember what my primary school English teacher said. Lawyers are liars. I was only nine years old then. Until today I wonder why he said what he said, he could not have thought that the words would rhyme and I do not think that was his intention. I do not know where he is and I  only remember that  my classmates had given him a nickname “King Kong” that sounded like his real name “Kim Kong” and I cannot recall his family name. As children, we were all very much in awe of him because he was stern. I was in standard four and once he had punished me for not knowing my tenses. Perhaps if not for him, I would not have paid attention to my grammar. I do not think it is a figment of my imagination that I have his words ingrained in my brains and despite hearing what he had said, I grew up and became a lawyer.

Like every other profession, there are always good and principled people and there are also unscrupulous and dishonest  ones. Should lawyers be judged more harsh than any other person by reason of the fact that they are lawyers ? Perhaps. By reason of  their legal training, lawyers are expected to uphold the rule of law and have a strong sense of propriety. Also lawyers are  in a fiduciary position where they are often  entrusted with the power to act on behalf of and for the benefit of their respective clients, thus they owe an utmost duty of care to their clients.  Law is a business like any other businesses. The public must understand that unless you qualify for some kind of legal aid, legal services must be adequately remunerated. All too often, clients may be willing to pay exorbitant sum to physically own some material goods, they do not want to pay for services that are intangible. Most consumers are willing to pay for  some services such as health and medical services as they want to get well and stay healthy but law is the kind of services that clients would engage only when it is  absolutely necessary.

Law and DisOrder  Confessions of a Pupil Barrister  and Law and Peace  are  written by Tim Kevan who has practised as a barrister for ten years and he first created the persona BabyBarista through a blog that was subsequently turned into the book Law and Order. BabyBarista faces competition  right from  his first day, he has to win ,by foul means or fair, the sought-after prize of a tenancy in chambers.  Law and Peace is the sequel when BabyB has made it and gained tenancy in a proper barristers’ chambers and yet  he is far from “You made it Baby B…You need never worry again.” Both novels are  fictional accounts of a pupil barrister at the English Bar. Since  his pupilage, BabyB encounters unscrupulous lawyers like his first pupil master  and  he also encounters senior lawyers with decency and integrity like the characters, OldRuin and TheBusker. The pupil barrister’s journal is hilarious and there is more than a kernel of truth in the stories.

In the epigraph of To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee quoted Charles Lamb   : “Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.”.
Tim Kevan  also quoted Charles Lamb:“Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.”. in the epigraph of Law and DisOrder.

Being a lawyer is not an easy job. If only the general public could appreciate that lawyers were once children too. Hence they are just as human and flawed  as every one else on this planet. We also meet shifty characters, various kinds of individuals, financial institutions and corporations which definitely only have their own interest and profit margin in mind.  We have got to be even handed when dealing with these clients.
Supertrees, Singapore

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