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Do You Have These 5 Traits To Be A Lawyer

By Thanuja May 15, 2017 462 Views

        “So….hmmm…. you’ve completed SPM or STPM… what do you intend to do now?” one aunty said, “Ahh…my son is a successful lawyer in town…am so proud of him…all my efforts have finally paid off yada yada and it goes on”. This is the frequent persistent question or statements you may have encountered once you complete school and you begin to ask yourself, “Well, do I have the necessary traits to become one?”

As the saying goes, (1) “There is no shortcut to success”. Success is a journey, not a destination”.

One aspiring to become a qualified lawyer must first possess the passion to become one. (2) One who finds passion in his work will never have to work a day in his life. Undoubtedly, passion is a pivotal characteristic to any vocation without which, you may not succeed, regardless of whatever you pursue, let alone the legal profession.

Needless to say, the journey of every aspiring lawyer is unique and no two persons share the same experience. It may be described as satisfying, grueling, fulfilling, tiring, and rewarding, the list goes on. A successful lawyer will tell you that no experience is a waste though (unpleasant, at times) each chapter contains untold gems in itself.

"This is where you literally fight for someone's life"

Aspiring lawyers are required to undergo a 9-month internship with a registered legal firm (commonly known as the “chambering period”) before being admitted to the Malaysian Bar as an advocate and solicitor. It is only then you are recognized as a qualified advocate and solicitor.

The purpose of the chambering period is to facilitate the aspiring young lawyer to familiarize oneself with practice of law regardless of the area one is acquainted with during the said period. A master (or mentor) will be assigned to one or a group of students (if it is a large sized firm). responsible to impart students with the relevant pointers, such as court practices, drafting skills, proper attire, do’s and don’ts when attending to clients, handling of clients’ monies and accounting practices etc.

It is interesting to note that the chambering period may be regarded as an equal dose of “bitter-sweet” experiences depending on the work-culture of the legal firm you are attached to. There have been many stories of pupils (commonly referred to as such during the duration of the chambering period) whom were required to wash the lavatory or even do general cleaning of the firm in addition to their general duties.

Now, before indulging further, you have to ask yourself, what are the necessary traits I need and how do I inculcate them?


1. Being Attentive To Physical Detail


"It's like listening with you eyes."

Have you seen a lawyer in court presenting his case in court and articulating facts in such an organized manner? Look out for the body language, how judges and witnesses are addressed, how the relevant law is applied to the issues raised in court and research materials presented to substantiate the case. Take for example a scenario where a lawyer and his opponent get into a heated argument to convince the judge of a fact presented in court. Most often than not, the presiding judge will most likely favor the lawyer who demonstrates convincing body language such as a confident facial expression, tone of voice, professional gesturing (as may be seen done by participants in a debate) etc. (apart from sound knowledge of the law).

Another profound trait a good litigator must possess is to be able to rebut the assertions of his opponent and/or witnesses efficaciously. This is where a fine lawyer showcases his wittiness. You may ask, how do I rebut assertions or statements? Simply put, being able to effectively contradict statements made by the opponent and/or his witnesses during cross-examination or submissions so as to fortify one’s case.

Well, do make sure you make the time to observe some of these as part of your training regime, as you will surely learn one or two invaluable skills by just observing the court process as well as the many interesting “court dramas”. Many a time, a seasoned lawyer will tell you that you cannot imbibe every skill through the text-books and that it is only through experience (and mistakes) can you make the “cut” and stand out from the rest.


2. Harness Your Listening Power


 

Picture from semprecaromifu.com

"Your honor, can you repeat that again?"

“How do you gather crucial facts to make a case, if you don’t listen well?” as once remarked by my master. I then on trained myself to be an active listener at all times. The importance of listening well cannot be over-emphasized. “Missing out on important information is fatal to your case (and may invariably jeopardize the interests of your client), even though you have knowledge of the law at your fingertips. One of those reasons is simply because we are not taught to listen well”, as according to a senior lawyer.


3. Ability To Raise Doubt - Twist & Untwist


"Sure? How sure are you? Let's be sure about that."

Another profound trait a good litigator must possess is to be able to rebut the assertions of his opponent and/or witnesses efficaciously. This is where a fine lawyer showcases his wittiness. You may ask, how do I rebut assertions or statements? Simply put, being able to effectively contradict statements made by the opponent and/or his witnesses during cross-examination or submissions so as to fortify one’s case.

To illustrate in simple terms, in a murder trial, to establish the defence of alibi’, the lawyer must establish that his accused client was not present at the scene of the crime. To do this, the lawyer must have in his possession evidence to rebut the contention of the prosecution (based on the charge that his client was indeed at the scene). One way a good lawyer can establish this is through documentary evidence or witnesses to show that his client was (for example) overseas during the material time. This fact effectively rebuts the assumption of guilt and seeks to question the credibility of the charge framed against the accused.


4. You Must Love To Read, Voraciously 


 

Picture from rasamalaysia.com

"Law is a never ending story."

Yes …. The thirst for knowledge must be insatiable….Most importantly, keep yourself updated of the relevant laws, policies and regulations. You will also have the competitive edge to run your own practice in the future as you will appear more well-grounded to service your potential clients. A well read practitioner is one who would also be able to engage in any topic of current interest and serve the community more efficaciously. This brings us to the next trait … Care to guess?


5. Be Vocal 


 

Picture from avclub.com

"Volume does matter... a lot."

Your opinion counts! Strive to be heard for your “two cents worth”. On a hypothetical note, a professional lawyer is like a doctor who treats his patients. Just as a doctor prescribes medication in accordance to the illness as diagnosed, likewise, a lawyer’s opinion is akin to “medicine” administered for a specific problem. So the saying goes, “the doctor knows best”.

On a general perspective, a lawyer is a professional who possesses the necessary skill and knowledge to address on a myriad of issues affecting society as a whole. Their contribution to society is unfathomable. Thus it is imperative for lawyers to have their voice heard on many levels of the administrative hierarchy of the nation.

 

In a nutshell, NEVER GIVE UP! Your resilience and tenacity will eventually be rewarded with the right attitude.

Success is as best described by these famous quotes:-

(3) Success means having the courage, the determination and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be – George Sheehan

(4) Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm – Winston Churchill

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