Wednesday, March 14, 2012
My family knows the story of how I became an advocate and solicitor.
It was a secret ambition I have always kept close to my heart after Maksu met with an accident. We were appointed solicitors as a pro bono case by the Queens court. Mr. Paul Scott (God bless his soul) was appointed as our solicitor. Over the next 10 years (before our case finally went to trial in the first ever video teleconferencing trial in the UK and Malaysia), he became our family. He visited us in Malaysia, stayed at crappy hotels, stood the heat which always made him pink, ate the food Nenda cooked for him and had seconds while he prepared our statements, went to see Maksu's doctors to prepare her medical reports for Court. He became a steadfast protector of Maksu and us. He even brought his lovely wife along for some of his working trips to Malaysia to meet us.
So emotionally involved with our case he became, he asked that he be excused as solicitor assisting the barristor when the matter went to trial as he was visibly emotionally invested in our case and did not want to create issues which can be raised in objection for the other side. I remember those were the exact words he used and said to Nenda.
Nenda was devastated when he passed away as was the rest of our family. When Nenda and Atok visited the UK the year after he passed away, Nenda and Atok visited his lovely wife. His wife cried meeting Nenda and Atok and told us how much he cared for Maksu and the rest of us as the years passed.
It was in his memory, that I decided to become an advocate and solicitor. Somebody needs to take care of Maksu's legal affairs I thought. But at the time, I was in University Malaya, finishing my science-stream based matriculation. Nenda wanted me to be a doctor like Bonda. I was doing very well but knew that I did NOT want to be a doctor.
As my finals dawned, I realised that if I continued to do well I would definitely get the offer to do medicine which Nenda would never let me turn down. And so I decided to do the unthinkable, I purposely flunked a subject. Even with one F for a subject, my pointer was in the 3.33 region because I obtained A's in the rest. Nenda and Atok was upset beyond belief and I was upset that I made them upset. But I was also relieved, no being a doctor for me.
But it was during this time, Allah showed me the importance of obtaining approval from your parents for anything that you do in life. With their disapproval of my rebellion, I was turned down at every corner. I could not get into the law programme in UM or UIA as my matriculation was science based and was out of time to apply for the UITM intake. UITM does not accept science based matriculation for its arts based programmes either.
I entered a private college and took up law while appealling to UITM, hoping for a big break.
At that time I realised the heartbreak I caused Nenda and Atuk by doing what I did. We were not even on speaking terms. They simply could not understand how their daughter could have failed a subject. They did not know that I purposely did what I did. I was too afraid of telling Nenda that I wanted to be something completely different from what she envisioned me doing. And so I had a chat with Bonda. Bonda eventually spoke to Nenda and told her the truth. I did not know what happened but Nenda and Atok then gave their blessing and became my greatest supporter then on.
With their blessing, my fate did a 180. My uncle helped me in securing a spot in the law faculty for an interview for the 2nd intake. I cannot thank my uncle enough for his help. Prof Darby became the dean of the Law Faculty in UITM. He went against normal procedure and convention by scouting for science stream based students to put in his law programme. For the 2nd intake I was called into his room where he explained to me that I, along with a handful of other students was his 'social experiment'. He became my favourite lecturer of all time. I cannot thank him enough for daring to be different.
The rest as they say is history...
And I am still here...it goes without saying that this is a profession I chose to be in because I am passionate about it and this is who I have always wanted to be.
But these days, I find myself increasingly frustrated with the people in my profession. A few days back I went to FC for a case management where 4 rather senior counsels appeared. Needless to say, I was the youngest there. When the matter came up for case management, everybody rushed for a seat leaving me, the only female in the bunch, standing up. I would have happily offered and given up a seat for a more senior member of the Bar, but the least any one of them could do was to offer me one and I would have politely declined [chivalry is dead, No?].
Never the matter, the CM went on. Parties could not agree on a hearing date common to all. One senior member actually insisted on fixing a date in March of April, knowing full well that we were not free. It escalated into a shouting match rather with him eventually saying that it was not his business to care about other people's free dates and he was free and everybody else could very well write in for an adjournment. This went on to a full blown war between the rest of the counsels and went on for a good 40 minutes. And here I was standing, watching these 4 people arguing like children. And so I turned to look at the senior member and addressed the registrar at the same time and said 'Sir [senior member], Tuan [Registrar], we cannot fix a date for hearing which is not convenient to ALL counsels. This beats the purpose of this entire case management exercise. Doing such a thing would tantamount to nothing less than a miscarriage of justice' . The person glared at me like 'miscarriage of justice' was a foreign word!
He then ignored me and said 'So Tuan, March or April?'. And for the first time in a LONG time, I lost my temper. To which I responded 'We have gone past March and April already haven't you noticed? We passed those months during the first 20 minutes of your pointless arguing, which then continued for another 20 minutes!!'. He was finally quiet. All of them became quiet. In fact, the whole place became very quiet. Then quietly they all agreed to a date in July where all counsels were free.
I noticed that the 3 counsels took the effort to shake my hand afterwards as if for the first time they acknowledged my existence in the room. One patted me in the back telling me how brave I was. One offered me a job (I seem to be getting this a lot these days). One took down my phone number (strange)
and magically started remembering my name. The one who started all the shouting, left in a huff.
But my mood changed for the rest of the day. What was so brave or great about me losing my temper? Should we not reserve arguments in court on merits and not something so trivial about the fixing of dates? What was the whole point of them arguing for 40 minutes while I stood there in my 5 inch heels? Chivalry is certainly dead isn't it?
And that is just but one instance of my frustrations. I am at the point of completely being jaded in a profession which I profess an undying love for.
Sigh..... I don't know what to do...