When I was younger, my parents used to tell me that I had very low EQ. I get angry at all sorts of things which seemed too trivial to them.
Now that I am 25, while I no longer get told off as having low EQ, everytime after I swear out of frustration over the nonsense and/or incompetency and/or inefficiency of whoever I just talked to over the phone, my colleague always ask me, “Why do you want to get so angry? If there’s nothing you could do about it, no point getting angry.”
Well, why do I get angry?
I get questions like: “Why does the cover of a core bundle has to be yellow?”, “Do we need to paginate the bundles?”, “Why do we need to paginate the bundles?”, “Why should we agree to our opponent’s request for a 1-day extension of time?”
In Court, I hear submissions from counsel which in effect sounded like these: “This was not argued in the lower court. So whatever grievances the opponent is suffering, too bad, whatever the miscarriage of justice, too bad.”, “This was filed 13 days late, the whole thing should be struck out. Constitutional right to appeal? Who cares? Rules are rules.”
I was made to understand that being admitted to the Bar is not a rubber-stamping process. The long call ceremony, is not just another procedure to go through. Or at least, it should not be. While I can do no better than referring to this article on the significance of the long call ceremony, the long and short of it is this:
- The pupil master has to be in active practice for 7 years and above. The underlying assumption is that someone of this seniority would be equipped with the necessary depth of legal knowledge and skills to be able to guide the pupil in becoming a fit and proper person.
- The mover also has to be in active practice for 7 years and above. The rationale being that someone of this seniority should be able to recognise a fit and proper person to be admitted to the Bar when they see one and further persuade the Judge that this is the case.
Knowing this, it frustrates me so much to think that many of my learned friends are not that fit, not that proper, and maybe not that learned after all when I get questions and hear submissions like those mentioned earlier. Don’t even get me started on instances where counsel took words from a written judgement out of context and went on to tell the Judge(s) before him that that was the correct position of law. Or instances where counsel cited cases ABC but hid cases XYZ from the Judge(s). And what’s more frustrating is that some of these instances involved senior counsel to whom the Judge(s) trust (and therefore were persuaded by the said counsel).
I am currently reading a book called Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope. The author wrote:
Here’s what a lot of people don’t get: the opposite of happiness is not anger or sadness. If you’re angry or sad, that means you still give a fuck about something. That means something still matters. That means you still have hope.
Mark Manson, ‘Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope‘
No, the opposite of happiness is hopelessness, an endless gray horizon of resignation and indifference. It’s the belief that everything is fucked, so why do anything at all?
That made me realised that my main source of anger, as mentioned above, arise out of pure hope as a lawyer who has just been in practice for 2 years. I have hoped that every lawyer who had been admitted to the Bar is really a fit and proper person to be admitted as an officer of the Court. By fit and proper, it means at the very least, that there is always an application of mind to the file they manage; that they strive to bring their best case forward without misleading the Judge(s); that they do not do all things necessary just to win, bearing in mind their first duty is as an officer of the Court, and their duty to client comes second.
Perhaps I do not go through enough nonsense to be able to accept such norm. But the point is, this should not be the norm.
My boss celebrated his 25th year in practice in April this year. I am now in my 2nd year of practice. I hope I’ll still get angry 23 years later.
On a personal note, congratulations and welcome to practice soon, Ming. You’ll do well.