LLVL: Litigators or Pirates?

LLVL mediumA few years ago, I realised that there was a distinctly pirate-like feel amongst the female litigators in the office. They’d taken to wearing frilly shirts (“They’re called ruffles lah,” I was told).

Now, the dress-sense of female litigators has always intrigued me — it seems that, in order to comply with the court’s strict dresscode, all they had to do was throw on a jacket (and “collarette”). What they had on underneath the jacket didn’t really matter. So, once they turned up in the office and dispensed of the jacket and collarette… surprise!

Some of them wore proper shirts anyway of course. But most had on the most court-inappropriate attire — anything from sleeveless t-shirts, bare-backed blouses, to spaghetti-strapped lacey tops!

It’s amazing what a jacket can do.

Of course, it’s not that we corporate lawyers don’t do it as well. But the litigators really take it to the next level! I mean, I may have worn slightly-more-casual-than-formal shirts to work, but certainly not spaghetti-straps!

In fact, I was once attending a meeting of the Board of Directors of one of our clients with two other female colleagues. Before the directors entered the room, the PA of the Managing Director came up to us, and said that two of us could stay, but one had to leave the room as her attire was terlalu mengghairahkan (too stimulating) and the MD would feel uncomfortable. The issue, the PA explained, was that her top was too low-cut.

A female litigator.

A female litigator.

Anyway, back to the trend of these overly-ruffled shirts — which went on to infiltrate the business-attire section of most women’s department stores. I wonder if these women realise that they look like their missing a tuxedo jacket and bow tie.

Or that they’re off to a fancy dress party as Captain Hook.



Again, thanks for all the emails and comments that you have been sending in! My previous post on why Attachments Are A Waste Of Time in particular attracted many comments and emails. I just want to point out that I wasn’t saying that ALL attachments are a waste of time. Just that most are. Many of the attachment pupils I’ve seen over the years have spent their month/two lazing around the office, and showing no intention whatsoever to learn anything, or to make that extra effort to optimise their time spent in the firm. It is very heartening indeed to receive comments and emails from LoyarBurok readers who say that they’ve learnt a lot during attachments. However, I’ve also received just as many comments stating that they totally agreed that attachments are, for the most part, a waste of time. The experience of an attachment stint obviously depends on the attitudes of both the employer, and the attachment student.

To repeat the conclusion in that post: “Go and work in a restaurant. Help out at an orphanage. Volunteer with an NGO. Travel. Take walks around the city. Get to know the people and the world around you.” Lawyers tend to live closeted, narrow-minded lives; there’s nothing wrong with gaining other “experience” instead of doing an attachment in a legal firm — if you become a lawyer, you’ll be stuck in a law firm for the rest of your life!

Thanks again, and it’s interesting how I get as many emails/comments from people saying they are intrigued and inspired by legal practice from what I write, as I do from those saying I am discouraging them from becoming a lawyer! Good fun.

Alter Ego has been a corporate lawyer in Kuala Lumpur for many years. Livin’ La Vida Loyar is a weekly semi-fictional, sorta-kinda-fact-based, non-chronological account of her experiences in the legal industry. She is writing this column anonymously because she doesn’t want people around her to know that, when she’s furiously typing on her BlackBerry in their presence, she is actually taking notes for this column! Plus of course there’s all this mumbo-jumbo about client confidentiality and getting disbarred. If you have an interesting story to share from your experiences as a lawyer, your encounters with a lawyer, or if you have a question about lawyers, please email her at [email protected]. Confidentiality is guaranteed. She thinks tweeting should be left to the birds. As all fiction is to some extent autobiographical, you may think she’s writing about you. She’s not. Jangan perasan. You may also think you know her. You don’t. Jangan kay-poh.

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Posted on 23 February 2011. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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