Putik Lada: A passion that keeps them in practice

Last week, I contributed an article to the Star’s Putik Lada column. It is a bi-weekly column of the Bar’s National Young Lawyers Committee featuring articles and viewpoints of young lawyers from across the country.

I wanted to share how important it is to have passion for what you do. Hopefully the message still comes across whether you are in legal practice or just working in general.

A passion that keeps them in practice

Legal practice is never boring. The law is ever-evolving. It forces you to keep learning the latest legal developments as well as to update yourself on the current affairs in the relevant industries.

A FEW months ago, I was moderating a session at the Young Lawyers Con­vention 2011 on the working conditions of young lawyers.

With me were three Speakers with different levels of seniority at the Bar.

In that session, questions were posed by various lawyers highlighting their perspective on the practice and concerns on issues such as long working hours and low pay.

Midway through that lively discussion, a question was posed to the four of us on what motivated us to still stay on in practice. The first Speaker spoke of the thrill of litigation and being up on his feet in court. He described that feeling as almost intoxicating and that continued to spur him on in practice.

Another Speaker shared his perspective on how he enjoyed being able to manage a matter from start to finish and he enjoyed the sense of satisfaction in being able to assist his client on legal matters.

The third Speaker talked of enjoying the intellectual challenge of practising law and the joy of still read­­- ing and learning the law.

I then spoke on how I could relate to each and every aspect highlighted by the Speakers.

I expanded on my personal experience which I will share in this article.

Firstly, I touched on how I had ended up doing law.

Unlike a number of lawyers I know, I never had a deep yearning to study law when I was in secondary school or college. Without quite knowing what I should study in university, I settled for doing a law degree since I thought it would give me a good foundation to go into other fields if I wished to.

While doing my law degree, I enjoyed studying the subjects but my desire to become a lawyer only crystalised when I sat for the English Bar. With the Bar’s practical training, I then knew I wanted to be a litigator as I wanted to put forward arguments in court.

When I returned to Kuala Lumpur, I sought out a pupillage position to do litigation. I ended up starting my legal career at a law firm which was a very good fit for me. By chance, I ended up practising litigation in an area of law – that of company law – which I had no knowledge of at the beginning.

But it has since become a subject I am very interested in and passionate about.

Legal practice is not easy. Similar to the experiences shared by the other lawyers at that working conditions session, I have gone through periods of late nights and working on weekends which are almost de regiueur in the legal profession.

I have been frustrated with the delay in court proceedings and I have also many times felt aggrieved about low salaries. However, a lot of that frustration melts away once I set foot in the courtroom.

All the long hours somehow pay off when I am able to put forward my legal arguments in court or when I am on my feet cross-examining a key witness at a trial.

There is an adrenaline rush of submitting in court and that sense of satisfaction of having argued a good case.

Legal practice is never boring. The law is ever-evolving. It forces you to keep learning the latest legal developments as well as to update yourself on the current affairs in the relevant industries.

What I shared with the audience that day was that if they were unable to relate to any of the narratives shared by the speakers and I on why we were still in practice, then it may be a sign that some form of change is needed.

Maybe a change in the law firm they are working in, perhaps a move into setting up their own law practice or even a switch in the area of law they were practising.

Without passion for what you are doing, it is difficult to soldier on in practice since the profession demands so much out of you.

Long hours are a necessity in order to hone our skills and irregular working hours are the norm since we are answerable to the demands of our client.

With a tinge of pessimism or realism (depending on how you look at it), legal practice in Malaysia is also not going to make you incredibly rich and I do not expect to draw an astronomically high pay.

So to last in the profession, I would think we need to enjoy what we are doing.

There is a saying that once you find a job you love, you will never work a day in your life.

This brings back into focus the question posed from the floor that day – Why am I still in practice?

It is because I am still passionate about the work I do.


One thought on “Putik Lada: A passion that keeps them in practice

  1. Pingback: Putik Lada: A passion that keeps them in practice

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