Guest article : What do you think about law and lawyers?

Guest article by Ushna

Hullo everyone,

This year I started the last semester of my LLB at UOM, and one of the modules I am taking is Jurisprudence. Word was that it was a very strange subject, because it concerns the philosophy of law. Impossible! Its an oxymoron, was my first thought.

BUT, the good news was that the one teaching us is Judge Bhushan Domah, who is a brilliant, brilliant man, with an amazing outlook on life and a very different way of thinking. I remember our very first class, when, halfway during our lecture, one of my classmates told him: “Sir, I have a stupid question to ask.”

Mr. Domah replied, “Go ahead. I’m sure it’s not stupid.”

My friend goes, “How does it feel to be a Judge?”

And Mr. Domah grins, “I thought you were asking a stupid question!”

In line with this very singular approach to law, he asked us last week to talk to people about law and lawyers, know what they think of this matter, see how their views differ from those who are in this field. This, according to Mr. Domah, will help us better understand the philosophy of law.

So, people, I want to know :

  • What do you think of law, lawyers and the legal profession in general?
  • Did any of you ever contemplate becoming a lawyer?
  • Do you still? Why, or why not?
  • Do you believe, as does the lady who sews my churidars, that “avocats menteurs”?
  • Why, according to you, do we need laws at all?

Answers to these questions, and anything else you might want to add, would be most welcome and very enriching.

Thank you all in advance!

  • http://www.chaya.fowdar.com/ Chaya

    Judge Bhushan Domah is a very charismatic person. He’s my friend’s dad, and it’s always a pleasure to be invited at his place for a prayer or for a casual meeting. He knows how to keep the attention of his audience. He leads a very simple life.

    To answer your questions:
    What do you think of law, lawyers and the legal profession in general?
    The law in Mauritius is not severe as such. Let’s take for example the case of the 14year old guy raping the 9year old girl. When the guy deemed right to rape that little girl, which is my eyes, he felt like an adult (line senti li adulte), then why can’t he be punished just like any above 18year old person would have been punished. Yeah, I know, people will “it’s easier said than done!”.

    Getting back to the questions, moving on to lawyers, I got no idea about them, mais zot joli ek zot linge :P

    About the legal profession, it’s a nice job, but in some way, people practising might be endangering their lives, especially in the criminal world that we are living.

    Did any of you ever contemplate becoming a lawyer?/Do you still? Why, or why not?
    Yeah, when I was in form 1 or form 2. But someone told me, that I’ll end up being a simple clerk of the lawyers, or I’ll be a mere “notair” or “avouer”. So I quit the idea afterwards. And the again was the idea that my life would not be secure.

    Do you believe, as does the lady who sews my churidars, that “avocats menteurs”?
    Their job is to win cases for their clients, by hook or by crook, cause they are being paid for that. But there is the moral or ethics aspect that should be considered.

    Why, according to you, do we need laws at all?
    To punish wrong-doers, to establish a certain norm in the society.

    Well, that’s my opinion.

  • Mike

    Quite a sensitive issue this. Most ordinary people that I am in contact with do not praise the legal profession much. There seems to be a consensus here that lawyers, solicitors etc are somewhat corrupt. While that is probably an exaggeration I must admit that my past contacts with a particular avoué was not fruitful and it appeared like the avoué enjoyed taking our money without producing any work progress or results. Ordinary working people take a dim view of a profession which is supposed to be defending them but only at an exorbitant cost. Therefore, we could say that, in general, the law is a mechanism available only to those who can afford it.
    Without laws society would be an anarchy but in today’s world is there justice for all? I’m not sure this is the case.

  • Anikka

    Thank you, Chaya and Mike.

    “Getting back to the questions, moving on to lawyers, I got no idea about them, mais zot joli ek zot linge”

    Lol, chaya, i think thats why i decided to do the LLB course! :D

    About that cost of a lawyer’s services, i remember what my ncle told me once:

    “You’re going to spend a lot of time, money and effort for this degree, so when people tell you you’re costing them an arm and a leg, dont let it get to you.”

    Now, everyone spends time, money and effort for their degree, in whatever field they have chosen to take said degree. But what is particlar to lawyers (and also doctors, for that matter), is the sheer number of years that elapse between starting your degree and starting work.

    For a lawyer, one has to take a 3-year llb course (or a 4-year one, from what i heard, if you’re in england), which is excruciatingly hard. You strive and toil and work your buttocks off, and at the end of the day, you’re very lucky if you get a 2:1 degree. First class is almost unheard of (in the history of LLB at uom, it would seem that only 3 people ever got a first class).

    Then, you have to take the Bar vocational exams, which has by now attained the level of impossibly difficult. As some of you might have heard, during the last exams, only 3 out of 120 people passed. Some may still take the Bar exams in England, but then they have to go through a conversion course before they can practice here, which does not come cheap.

    Add to that the one-year period of pupillage you must take if you want to become a barrister or attorney (that period is 2 years for prospective notaries).

    And even after you have completed all that, there ensues the oft-long wait before you get a steady trickle of clients.

    Now, after someone has been through such an ordeal, it may seem reasonable that they at least want to get paid well, doesnt it? I would (but without milking my clients for all they’re worth!)

    Just wanted to present the other side of the coin!

  • http://www.ruisseaudupouce.com Olivier

    I may not think of lawers (well I am meaning attorneys) at all until I alas really need them. Also I tried one year of studying general law in France. One thing is that even as students they are close to politics and big money networks. This can be disturbing and annoying.

    But also as citizens who know the rules lawyers may want to play a part in the city.

    You have also business lawyers and students you meet in that field can have different mindset and goals compared to those who concentrate on criminal law. It is more a mixed bag! I met one who was very articulate and open to the arts. No political ambition.

    I recently met a retired magistrate and asked him what he learnt from the experience bein confronted to criminals. He replied me : «The first impression is always the good one». This is probably empirical.
    Do criminals know that and can they take advantage?

  • Mayuri

    Lawyers are like snakes, they have a filthy tongue!! lol

    I am a law student too, with the University of London [external programme] and believe me guys, it’s horribly hard but incredibly interesting!

    I believe if you want to be a lawyer, or be in this profession, you have to do it by passion, not just to please your parents.. lol..

    I think it’s a noble job, I don’t know if you had the chance to work with them, but believe me, the good ones are very good, and the crappy ones are REAL CRAP! LOL
    Not all lawyers are liars, but lots of them ARE, so you have to make sure that you always follow the right path, never let greed or arrogance command your way, but be sure you are always fair to the profession and to your client!

    Sorry, I didnt answer your questions, was just posting a comment for what I believe was an interesting topic!

    By the way, Humans are so babaric that a world without Laws would be CHAOS.. anyway, the world, as it is, with laws is already chaos!

  • http://www.nayarweb.co.cc Nayar

    The law needs to protect us and not vice-versa.
    The law needs to protect us(not criminals).

  • yurit0s

    have 4 clients which are lawyers, and what i can say is that they “cozer”.

    with them there is no bla bla, they get straight to the point. and they know what they want as customer ; )

  • Ushna

    @ Mayuri: you got it right, which reinforces my opinion that people on the inside have naturally got a different view from those on the outside.

    I remember what Mr Rashid Ameen, our law of evidence lecturer last semester, told us: “A lawyer’s first duty if towards the court and towards justice, and then towards his client.” Most lawyers adhere to this, they are always courteous towards the other Counsel, they disclose as much information to the other party as is necessary. Unfortunately, the bad eggs are the ones who mostly appear in the media because they are the ones who cause the rackets!

    @ Nayar: fully agreed. The law exists to protect people. However, someone who is suspected to have committed a crime is also a person, and is hence also entitled to protection. He is thus presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. This presumption of innocence means he has to be given the occasion to defend himself, and to do that adequately, he must be allowed to secure the services of a lawyer. Consequently, even if we can say with absolute certainty that someone has committed a crime, he still needs to be able to defend himself, so lawyers will still need to defend him.

    @ Yurit0s: Haha, you remind me of one of my lecturers, who said: “Les avocats ne mentent pas, ils interpretent differemment.” They are trained in order to get that smooth, velvety speech delivery!

    Thanks to everyone who have commented so far, and keep ‘em coming!

  • Ushna

    @ oliver: sorry, i missed your comment!

    «The first impression is always the good one».

    This is probably true of the ‘small’ cases, those heard in the district or intermediate courts, where you find petty criminals and recidivists regularly appearing before you, to the point where you can guage whether someone is more likely to have committed the offence than not just by looking at the impression he gives.

    However, in the ‘big’ cases, the criminal cases at the Assizes or the constitutional cases in the Supreme Court, i doubt that if you’re wearing Armani suits, looking all well groomed, the Judge will pronounce a judgment in your favour based only on that!

    Bottom line is, if you’re accused of drug trafficking, rape or murder, suiting up isnt going to tip the scales in your favour, but if you’re going to show cause why you should be entrusted with custody of your child during a divorce petition, or if its a small district court case, it wouldnt hurt to look nice and clean and innocent!

  • Dvil

    personally i thk lawyers are like any other professionals in their respective field.. some suck and some are just outstanding. et la loi maurice…hmm..mo penC ki nou pena a nous plaindre compared to a lot of countries. nou ena ban acts ki bien explicite and some it is true, especially in the environmental field, are too scattered and sometimes miss key elements. sinon concernant remark lor uom la mo 100% dakor.. dailleurs premier jour nou ti rentrer miss odile ti biein dire nou ” si vous avez un C .. soyez content”

  • http://www.ruisseaudupouce.com Olivier

    Ushna thanks for your reaction & sorry for the delay: «The first impression is always the good one». I just asked the magistrate how his experience had enriched his perception of mankind. I think his reply was sound and meant that he could quickly sort out what kind of person he would have to judge and have a very strong intuition whether that person would be honest/innocent or not. He would not be just impressed by his clothes. (I now think of that famous movie, The Night of the Hunter. The Hunter (Mitchum) has been able to abuse the naivety and common sense of the ordinary people to commit his evil deeds. But finally he is confronted to that old widow who works it out immediately : he is neither the father of the children he wants to get his hands nor a man of god. “L’habit ne fait pas le moine”.)

  • Ushna

    @ dvil: lol, mwa mo rapel kan odile ti adresse nou pou la 1ere fois. Li dir nou, “Si vous avez un B, n’allez pas pleurer a la maison! Un B, c’est bien!” The moment we heard that, all of us were determined to prove her wrong! But alas, we could not! Today, a B+ reads as an A+ as we desperately try to cling to the tail of a 2:1!

    @ Oliver:

    “I think his reply was sound and meant that he could quickly sort out what kind of person he would have to judge and have a very strong intuition whether that person would be honest/innocent or not.”

    I think that sums it up nicely! And as I’ve already said, it especially applies in situations where the appearance of the person weighs heavily on the outcome of the case, e.g. alimony, attribution of the custody of children, etc.

  • Rid

    I always wanted to be a lawyer, but my perspective around this job has changed a lot since last year; specially in Mauritius. I am not relunctant for the LLB, but for the CLE exam which is now of controvertial nature and it would be dissapointing to render my LLB worthless. They have such a low pass rate and release no examiners’ reports. In my opinion, those future lawyers are handpicked by some group of people. Even students who are considered as being the best have fail several times, while passing on a first try abroad such as UK.

    In case I may be wrong, then it is definitely not too late for me to become a lawyer, but with such issues about the CLE, I would not like to become part of this community.

  • Prabhakur

    Good to go through the lots of responses.Coming to the point,being a lawyer is great but the hardest part is to see that justice is done.And talking about Judge Domah,he is one of those rare persons who is doing justice to this noble profession.I have seen the guy in action as a lawyer,a magistrate,a judge and if you are his student,you are in good hands!!!He is a workoholic and a human motor.

  • Ushna

    Sorry Rid and Prabhakur for not replying earlier, i was racing against time to submit the last chapter of my dissertation! I finally sent it to my supervisor yesterday, so i’ve got a bit of time before my test on wednesday! :/

    @ Rid: If you really want to do an LLB, go for it, because you dont necessarily have to become a lawyer after you complete it. You may couple it with another degree: international relations, media and communication, public administration, economics, whatever you fancy. Or you could go for an LLM, or if you really dont want to take the risk of failing the Bar exams here, you could take the exams in England and then either work there or come back and practice it. If you take the LLB course, you’ll learn things, and fundamental things at that, that you’d otherwise never know in your life. Its really interesting if you’re willing to work hard.

    @ Prabhakur: yep, you’re quite right! His favourite line is “tickle your brain, don’t pickle it!” And he’s just set us one such brain-tickling assignment! :(

  • sam

    hi guys. 1st time here n just wanna share my views on law n lawyers. see recently some students from u.o.m went to bassin canard for a drag. do you think that there sould be a police post there for students to drag safely in that remote n disgusting place? then why should one blame the law? lawyers r to save criminals whilst police are there to save n prove the case. we are as animals. the stronger one gains for sure as in the animal kindoms. the rest you think about it.thanks.

  • Prakash

    Just to tell you something about Judge Domah. I had a very hard time while I was doing my LLb [University of London-External]. I was so discouraged that I thought that I would not be able to make it. It was my final year and I badly needed to have good marks. Since I am from the same area where he was born, so I have known him quite well. one day I took an appointment with his secretary to meet him so that I may discuss my plight with him. As usual he was very welcoming and always there to help those who want to achieve something positive in life. I still remember that we had a couple of meetings after office hours during which he explained to me the intricacies of law and what the examiner was expecting from us at this level. He also explained to me about the sociology of law which he highly encouraged me to study for my jurisprudence. I worked according his guidance and I was able to go through my exam with a second class (Hons). Today, I agree with all of you when you say that he is someone who is so brilliant. But to me above all he is a person of great humility of very good character and a person of high integrity. I recently called to the Bar of England at Middle Temple and I would sincerly like to dedicate this honour to him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rista.chutoo Rista D Chutoo

    He is my Administrative and Constitutional Law lecturer. No words to describe him. I just like the fact he is very down to earth and do everything in a practical way.