Ask Lord Bobo: The Qualities of a Lawyer, and Why Vote?

From the Selangor Times Issue 31, 1-3 July 2011. Ask Lord Bobo is a weekly column by LoyarBurok where all your profound, abstruse, erudite, hermetic, recondite, sagacious, and other thesaurus-described queries are answered!

This week, His Supreme Eminenceness talks about the qualities of a good lawyer, and why you should vote.

Is my biggest dream become lawyer. How should I do become good lawyer practise? But no need is famous. Tanks you. (@Fengtau_2901, by email)

Well uh, first up Mr. Fengtau_2901, we’re not sure whether that is a Chinese or Russian accent you’re writing in. But anyway.

One of the key things that a lawyer requires is a good command of the language of trade. In Malaysia, this means Bahasa Malaysia and English. This duality of language use is not a hindrance, but rather a necessity, and one that lends its certain charm and flavour to the practice of law. More importantly, it demonstrates the court’s flexibility and width of accommodation. A good command of the language facilitates articulating an argument or opinion in a receptive manner.

The next thing is industry, by that is meant diligence, thoroughness and meticulousness in one’s work. This part in truth is the nuts and bolts of lawyering. This is the research or thinking part. This is the part that the television series like Ally McBeal, Boston Legal, etc. don’t really show the layperson. There is nothing exciting about watching a person pore over the book or typing into a screen for hours interrupted only by lunch, toilet or smoke breaks. Real lawyers don’t wear sharp suits or pencil skirts everyday, perform miraculous and hilarious feats of justice-preserving eloquence in court, and hang out at the bar downstairs laughing their cares away. It is hard work, but a fulfilling profession.

Intelligence, if applied, will ensure that industry is properly directed and spent. You do not have to be terribly clever to be a lawyer. What is important is that you have a healthy dose of common sense and reasonableness about your approach to problems and have an awareness of the situation. Your job as a lawyer does not entail showing off and doing things that are not in the client’s interest.

But industry and intelligence is dangerous if it has corruption guiding it. That is why a lawyer must have integrity. By this it is meant honesty, accountability, and discreet where necessary. This is very important because as a lawyer it is likely that you would at one time or other act as stakeholders for some legal transaction involving important documents or large sums of money.

Then there is independence. A lawyer must be able to think and work things out for themselves for the most part. They should be independent in thought as well as ethics in the sense that they cannot be swayed with tempting offers from other parties. It is difficult to trust a lawyer who is not
confident or trusting of his own opinion.

Finally, all that would be futile if you lacked initiative. This means keenness to doing things enthusiastically with the right attitude. That means looking forward to challenges, and being keen to develop oneself. This is the fuel to all the other traits. But regrettably it is this trait that is especially lacking in many graduates.

There are many more traits that one requires to be a competent lawyer, never mind a good lawyer which is much more difficult. It is sufficient that you are competent, which means you avoid mistakes as much as possible. What we have discussed are just some of the more obvious traits required.

I will be celebrating my 21st birthday soon. Some friends are asking me to register as a voter but I’m not sure why I should vote. Does it really matter? (@StopNagging, via email)

According to the Elections Commission, 15.8 million Malaysian youths are eligible to vote but only 11.8 million have registered as voters. Out of this, not all will actually vote during elections.

In the previous general election, 76% of the voter population turned up to vote. In fact, we’re not doing too bad when compared to the United Kingdom which sees a declining voter population year after year. However, Indonesia scores higher than us. Hence, it is understandable when one asks whether voting matters or not.

Well, it matters in Malaysia. The 2008 political tsunami proves that everyone’s vote does matter. Here are top 6 reasons why you should vote:

  1. You get to shape your future. Twenty years from now, most of the people running the country will not be there (note: the operative word here is “most”). So, why would you let them shape your future, especially if they haven’t been looking out for your interests?
  2. National issues such as economic growth, inflation, budget allocation, education, health, employment, wages, security, human rights, and environmental policies often affect you more than you realise. By voting, you’re telling the government who you think is more competent and capable of running the country. By voting, you’re choosing who should represent you.
  3. If you don’t vote, you’re actually saying that you don’t care if you’re being represented by a moron. No amount of teeth gritting, hair pulling and name calling would change the fact that you are more than happy to accept this moron to be your State Assemblyman, Member of Parliament and Prime Minister. You can either choose to lose your teeth and hair by the time you reach your 30th birthday, or you can vote for someone better.
  4. You should vote simply because you can. It hasn’t always been like this for many other people. Malaysians are blessed because we didn’t really have to fight hard to earn the right to vote. This wasn’t the same for countries like United States of America. Voting in America started as early as 1776 but for close to a century, only white men with property were allowed to vote. Women could vote only in 1920 and American Indians in 1924. Women could not vote in the United Kingdom until 1928; France in 1944 and Portugal as late as 1975. Your right to vote is not permanent and it can be taken away. This happened in Spain when women could vote from 1931 to 1936 but when it fell under Franco’s regime, women lost their right to vote for the next 40 years.
  5. Voting makes you feel good. In 1960, a documentary about John F Kennedy called The Primary showed multiple shots of people’s toes curling up while they vote.
  6. It’s the easiest thing you can ever do for your country. Really.

Have a question for Lord Bobo? Call on His Supreme Eminenceness by emailing [email protected], stating your full name, and a pseudonym (if you want), or tweeting your questions by mentioning @LoyarBurok and using the hashtag #asklordbobo. The first 100 questions published will receive monkey-riffic LoyarBurok merchandise courtesy of Selangor Times. What the hell are you waiting for? Hear This, and Tremblingly Obey (although trembling is optional if you are somewhere very warm)! Liberavi Animam Meam! I Have Freed My Spirit!

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Ask Lord Bobo is a weekly column by LoyarBurok where all your profound, abstruse, erudite, hermetic, recondite, sagacious, and other thesaurus-described queries are answered! It is the ONLY place that His Supreme Eminenceness' thoughts are regularly channeled, via His Lordship's most loyal meditating purple-banana munching minions.

Posted on 15 July 2011. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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