Monday, January 4, 2010

Modest? Is that a Word?

Lawyers are naturally conceited – with good reason. Law training assumes that the learning we do equips us to step in the shoes of a messianic advocate for mere mortals, play Voltron and defend the universe for a fee; acts that have little to do with modesty or meekness. Every time, a lawyer wins on either side. The winner in true hedonistic enjoyment, never lets anyone forget and tells and retells the victory story to anyone who would listen. The loser still gets to brag about how close they were to wining, how well the well-tried strategies could have worked and shone through despite the tough facts and the ignorant client..
We brag at anything – the size of our offices and the type of wigs our seniors wear; the transactions we work on even though all we did was read for typos; the number of SANs in our office, even if they no longer go to court; the schools we attended and the postgraduate degrees we probably will never use; the decade old mint-new books in our libraries; the sponsorship of seminars in other continents of which no one really cares. I have heard lawyers brag about how long they can stretch a case by numerous adjournments! We just love the double pleasure of hearing the sound of our voice and having other people listen to how good we are.
Luckily, Nigerian lawyers are way ahead of most African lawyers as our green passport quickly assures us of the extra attention that makes ‘do you know who I am’ irrelevant in international airports.
Outside the airports, bragging proves useful in securing a nice portion of our clients’ legal budget. Nothing assures the non-learned cheque-signer of absolute belief in the lawyer’s abilities to make the problem go away than hinting at a museum filled with relics of wars fought and won – ‘oh, transfer of ship from the Antarctica? We did something similar only last year’. Since few lawyers actually specialise, it is really easy to fall into the untruth-trap and claim bragging rights to something close to everything ranging from taxation of alien spacecraft to a legal opinion on the legality of the signature of the chief justice. We brag to get the work done.

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