By Shivani Chimnani:
Being a law student, one has to face a plethora of conjectures on one’s own student life and what the profession entails, pretty much on a daily basis. The white shirts and black coats get an extremely raw deal when it comes to popular perception, and just this once I’d like to argue my case and settle this for eternity in the public court (or YKA court at least). So here they are, the top common perceptions (or misconceptions) about lawyers and their lives:
1) Is your life like ‘Suits’?
Not even remotely like ‘Suits‘. ‘Suits’ is actually pretty superficial, whereas the law isn’t. It portrays law to be an extremely casual profession where Harvey Specter merely says two extravagant legal phrases, a dash of fancy jargon, swoops in and saves the day every goddamn time and not to mention the best lawyer at the firm is a fraud.
Well, what it fails to show is the immense hard work and effort that each lawyer puts in to win his case instead of fretting over secretaries all day. Harvey Specter may stride into court with his Armani suit and badass arguments and refute everything the defense says by saying “that’s bullshit” and case closed. But in reality, “bullshit” amounts to contempt of court, and that my friends is a non-bailable offence.
2) Do you know all laws of our country? Can you tell me the law governing animals?
You may be a history student, do you know what happened in the mid-16th century in the west of Bulgaria? Similarly, no law student or lawyer for that matter knows all the law even if the person is a prodigy or an exalted genius. Everything in life is governed by law, from the roof over your head to the ground beneath your feet, it’s pretty vast you see! It is not humanely possible to know every law, hence people specialize.
3) I think you should choose corporate law over criminal law.
First, those are not the sole two areas of law which exist. It’s a wonderfully vast field including several areas such as outer space law, aviation law, environmental law, sports law, cyber law, intellectual property, military law, real estate, media law, medical law and the list is endless (Yes there are lawyers practicing aviation law, how cool is that?!). Second, a law student knows much more about the details entailing each work than the person who watches law sitcoms, so I guess he can pretty much decide for himself.
4) Oh, so you’re going to be a lawyer soon? I actually have an ongoing dispute, could you give me some advice?
Everyone will try to pawn on for free legal advice. But a law student is not a machine emitting statutes and enactments of every material thing that ever existed. No, I do not know about the legal intricacies of immigration laws or how to get you out of murder charges.
5) The lawyers who defend criminals are sadists.
No, they aren’t. First, the rule of law guarantees every person a right to representation and fair trial, even the most brutal terrorist. A lawyer is bound to defend a person accused of crime regardless of personal opinion as to the guilt of the accused. They have to have their loyalty towards the law which requires that no man (or woman) should be punished without evidence (this is a law itself). Second, one has to remember they are individuals practicing a profession like any other person in consonance with due process. If there were no counsels for defense, would you call it justice? They do so to earn a meal, not perpetuate crime in the society, so think twice before judging.
6) He argues all the time, he’ll make a good lawyer.
If he/she argues all the time, he’s/she’s just daft and self-righteous. Law isn’t about arguing profusely, it’s about intense reading and research and making sane arguments. A lot of jobs (i.e. LPO’s, corporations, consultancy firms, mediation, non-litigation departments of various firms, etc.) don’t even require arguing where it’s mainly the hardcore research or immaculate drafting or simply rendering legal advice. It’s more about effective persuasion than aimless argumentation.
7) A law degree sounds so ‘rad’, your life must be pretty cool!
Naah, we’re pretty nerdy actually. Unless you consider studying cool (which it is by the way).
8) All lawyers are greedy, all they care for is money.
If all lawyers were greedy, thousands of them wouldn’t be striving relentlessly, fighting for human rights, animal rights, environmental rights, religious freedom and sexual rights so you could have a better tomorrow. Besides even the lawyers who don’t fight for social causes in particular, indulge in a lot of pro bono work as part of their corporate social responsibility. They don’t seem very greedy now, do they?
These are few unrealistic expectations and peculiar questions that every law student encounters. But as the saying goes “appearances can be deceptive”. Whatever said and done, the legal profession still manages to be the most beautiful profession contributing to the progress and evolution of mankind every living moment. As Aristotle once said, “It is better for the law to rule than one of the citizens.”
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