Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cushy Jobs and Buddhist Lawyers

Some people think I have a cushy job. On the contrary, being a full time litigation attorney is no cushy job at all, I can't even say it's even a tad bit cushy, although there are perks. And by George, there ARE perks! Some of my colleagues can give a rough estimate on how much time they devote to litigation advocacy. Some of them will say that their practice is about 60% litigation and 40% consulting work, but for now, I can't I can give a rough estimate as to how much of my time I devote to these fields/advocacy.

Most of my consultancy work ultimately leads to litigation, I don't have to wonder why. While our law firm handles "some" consultancy work, it always has something to do with suing or defending somebody in court/admin bodies, but as much as possible, I always remind clients and potential clients that litigation is the last thing we would want. It takes time and a whole lot of precious money, a whole lot of precious money, to do it right.. (that sounds like a song from the 80's hmm)

Appearing and arguing the cause or defense of a client might be exciting for some spectators but one must have the stomach for all the hate and mire that is being thrown by the litigants in court. I've gotten used to it. Hell, I've gotten used to hearing the words, "pakamangon nato siya". Most, if not all, litigants want us lawyers to join in on the fray and hate the opposition (and their counsel), but there's one thing I can really say about that: I cannot possibly hate the opposition, I do not have the time nor the emotional instability to hate opposing counsel's client/s. What for? It would serve no practical purpose, not even a strategic one.

Some would want to drag us into their fights, sort of like a proxy war, but I don't operate like that and I don't want to be dragged into all that hate. Which gets me thinking, how can I be a practicing Buddhist while being a lawyer in active litigation advocacy?

That question is still haunting me. Compassion is something that is seemingly absent in court but I really beg to differ. If I were such a cold-hearted bastard, how come I feel emotionally drained after tearing into a witness and pointing it out to the court that his/her testimony is nothing but a big fat lie?  During hearings, especially the cases I've been handling which are somewhat emotionally charged, I cannot help but feel frustrated and angry at times, but I have to keep my tongue and anger in check, otherwise, I might be put in the pokie by the judgie. (urrm judge). Be that as it may, I am reminded of the following words from Ven. Master Hsing Yun:
Like all things, the mind and the body are interdependent; the health of the mind influences the health of the body and the health of the body influences the health of the mind.

Using the healthy body as a tool, we can cultivate a compassionate heart and a clear mind.

With a cultivated mind, we are able to examine ourselves, clearly see the nature of our problems, and work to resolve them.

We will then approach the path to true health.

- excerpts from Buddhism, Medicine and Health

In any case, being a lawyer (depending on what kind of advocacy) is no cushy job. Although I have a rather comfortable office sans rent (some of the perks for being a 3rd generation lawyer in a family of lawyers), I've never had any regrets for the things that I do for my cleints within the bounds of propriety and the law.

However, I do have to remind myself every now and again why I wanted to become a lawyer...

Be that as it may, I will have to try to practice detachment and not be affected with all the hate and the vigorous argumentation. In the meantime, I will have to sit in a corner at my favorite coffeeshop with my back against a corner wall where I can have a 180 degree view of the people coming in going with a clutch bag in easy reach. This job makes me paranoid at times.

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