Lawyers are always associated with money. I even noticed a lawyer friend wearing a belt with a large money sign ($) buckle. The spot question (soalan spot) that is normally asked to me is questions like; how much do you earn monthly as a lawyer?, is it more than Gani Patail's wages? How much do you charge for let say 39B case and bla bla bla. The
perception (and misconception) is the notion that lawyers are money chasers, "mata duitan" and the famous quote from lawyers is "no money
Sadly but true enough many of the lawyers do indeed
behave with greed, arrogance and materialistic in carrying out their duty. All the courtesy, care and consideration towards the needy (sometimes desperados) are thrown into the dustbin. On the other side of the coin, lawyers need money and as professionals, we don't want to be taken for a ride by clients who just merely begging for our service when they need us and leave us in the dark when they are comfortable or out of trouble.
That is why I always maintain that there's a boundary in defending clients. You don't defend them at all cost till your last blood (or sweat). Unscrupulous clients who pay RM500 and expect us to treat them like the royalty is one fine example .Another illustration is "choc fudge" clients who will be AWOL when their fee is due. For me, its simple, if they are absent in court, I will personally ask for warrant of arrest before the dpp ask, much to the astonishment of the judges.
So how do lawyers tone down the bad image of
"mata duitan"? (as if non-lawyers work like hell and not expecting money on hari gergaji/bank pecah day). Let me share with you and enlighten you that not all from the bulk of lawyers day to day routine hinges on money alone. Lawyers need and should do "pro bono" cases. No my non lawyer friends, its not some weird thinking technique created by Edward de Bono or a song by Bono of U2. It means doing a job for the good of public without getting any pay.
Its not an easy decision to allocate your precious time (when you can generate more and more money like memerah susu lembu) to something that is not economy friendly. In pro bono cases you even have to fork out your own money on all expenses incurred. Normally it involves public law litigation in cases like illegal assembly and the so called politically motivated
offences where charges are being preferred in court towards citizens who just want to exercise their rights enshrined in the federal constitution, but curtailed by archaic provisions in certain laws like
Police Act etc.
Some lawyers shy away from doing pro bono cases,
its not even in their dictionary or diary (or IPhone/Blackberry). They even cynically say things like "habis tu aku nak cari makan macamana kalau asyik buat kerja free aja". First and foremost, our legal life is
not only about "cari makan". In Islam, your job is ibadah. By taking a few pro bono cases, it actually relieves you from the starvation towards money. You do cases purely for the sake of helping the needy,
ain't that qualifies it to be part of our amal before we die? (remember we will die someday ok). In return, you build up reputation as an honest practitioner who still has some room in his hectic legal life to contribute to the society. Takkanla nak isi perut kita aja. Gradually, you will command respect from friends and foes (dpp le tu) and believe me you will get more clients due to this goodwill (wayarzuquhu min
haithu la yahtasib).
The other way to wash away the dirt of money-crazy syndrome that is clouding your heart is by giving back to the society. Getting involved in programmes and events that give your chance to share your expertise or experience. Of course it should be done free of charge or else its back to square one (now you are making extra income apart form income as a a lawyer). I got the opportunity today when I was involved in an event in UIA (tempat jatuh lagi dikenang inikan pula tempat memonteng kelas), whereby we lawyers came and share our experience and give advise and tips for future lawyers. I event managed to share some jurus-jurus rahsia with the students. To see them smile, listening with enthusiasm and asking loads of questions
really make me feel proud and worth the effort although I receive not a single cent for a half day session.
What is the most important in life is not money. OK fine I need money to buy my next car, the 5 series. But ultimately, what matters most is when you come back everyday feeling exhausted, you still manage to get a good night sleep with your mind still proud of what you've achieved today in terms of helping others. And the next day, you wake up feeling refreshed and still burning with desire to embark yet again in another journey of ibadah through your job as a lawyer. If many of us lawyers share my
sentiment, surely the society will learn to like our profession more (not just ibu mertuaku-ala Kassim). Wassalam.