Lawyers are victims of the conflict between the worlds we live in and the world our ‘educationally disadvantaged’ family and friends know. We are torn between our stronger inclinations of law training – backstabbing, pride, snobbery, resilient nitpicking, among others - and the ignorant world outside the courtroom and law office. Law training often wins.
Take Latin. In law-world, Latin is cool, smooth and amazing – like a young Antonio Banderas speaking Spanish we don’t understand. Outside law-world, Latin is a dead language used only at the Vatican City. Law-world is clearly insulated from the outside as lawyers hold staunchly to Latin phrases no one understands or cares about.
For instance, lawyers, ensuring that mortals are within a earshot are more likely to say things like: ‘Oh, was it done uberrimae fidei?’; ‘I would not worry about it, the matter is res judicata.’
It must be some love for vowels.
Regular people grow friendships by spending time together, sharing jokes with friends and family, leaning on the shoulders of kith and kin during the rough times, etc. Apart from the fact that lawyers hardly have enough time for frivolities as building friendships, no properly trained legal mind can spend one hour with other people without mentally preparing a bill of charges. Even pro bono lawyers prepare a bill then write it off. We have to justify every second of the day.
We also find the telephone pretty disconcerting and against our very ideals. Somewhere in our treecidal minds, the telephone as a ploy to usurp the paper – our one true love. Telephone conversations also do little for our litigious minds – burden of proof is needlessly heavy, and the witnesses’ demeanour cannot be observed from one end of the telephone line. Nigerian lawyers are particularly suspicious of recorded conversations as few courts would actually admit them. We also have to deal with the issue of the constitutional right to privacy,
In the real world, forgiveness is idealised. People like to make up and deal with situations. In law-world, arbitration is for losers and negotiation is only as good as when we win. Real lawyers fight to the bitter end, dragging their clients with them.
We also revel in spotting typos. Finding one or better still, a flaw in another’s arguments or a law no one will ever use is mentally celebrated with balloons and trumpets. We really like this – actually we really like anything at all that reminds us of our intelligence.
Our skills in this area are not really appreciated in real life. People live life spelling their names as ‘Jennifa’ and don’t really bother about it. Most lawyers can’t keep themselves from pointing out typos on BlackBerry messages or Facebook statuses.
Law teaches that primary school was a waste of time - ‘and’ does not always mean ‘and’; ‘or’ has more meaning than a two letter word can offer. When in doubt, we use ‘and/or’. The smartest lawyers can use ten years to get a matter dealing with the definition of ‘should’ from trial to the Supreme Court.
We love to hear us speak. Other people think that the only set of people who they really have to listen to is the Minister of Information and the Acting President (when he acts). Usually, anytime we try to go beyond a 140-letter twitter, people ignore us. We don’t like being ignored.