The most unforgivable ever sin to be committed by a lawyer in his life dedicated to the practice of law is when he impetuously positions his thoughts on a particular issue of legal importance and haphazardly attempts to solidify them into an argument based on a wholly misconceived discipline of law.
A blind conviction, howsoever socially appealing it mellifluously sounds to the ears of the public, if accompanied with insufficient or worse, zilch legal substance to buttress a lawyer's view on a given dilemma shall only amount to nothing but a mere melodious flaunting of verbosity which an arbiter of justice one calls a judge in evaluating the merit of his cause of action or the lack thereof must be discouraged if not restrained to entertain further or hasten to reject it altogether.
Such is an apt case of a proverbial empty can which makes the loudest noise equalling to that of a raging tempest yet bears only light and innocuous breeze inside.
A devil's advocate might argue that there is always another side of interpretation to be offered in a lawyer's resolute effort to demystify what appears on the face of it to be a complicated legal question. With respect, such exercise of differing legal opinion must only be discharged fully within a strict and inviolable legal construct that is ought to be incapable at all costs of being vitiated by reason of its incorrectly applied principles leading potentially to a poor and erroneous understanding of the actual situation in toto.
A lawyer's primary obligation as an officer of the court amongst others is to assist with the interpretation of the law made by the law-making authority in his quest for clarity. Such responsibility can only be dutifully performed and proven therefore to be of great benefit to legal posterity when one’s understanding of pure law is not mistaken for individual propensity for a selective interpretation of law most favourable to his or his client's advantage or liking.
A lawyer is not only answerable to the court and his clients. His role transcends legal engagement to which he is statutorily assigned. Correlative to that answerability is the primordial duty to take whatever steps fit and proper to keep the public duly cognisant of the law and the propriety of their action according to the law as it stands and to remind them in clear terms of the grave consequences it shall result in the event of its breach.
To ensure the attainability of this goal, his mind must remain absolutely free from any shackles of prejudice and his judgment wholly divorced from any hint of partiality. Objectivity must always take precedence over individual predispositions in his assessment of problems he seeks to resolve.
Most importantly, political correctness should never be part of a lawyer's consideration in the exercise of his analytical faculty. Our job is to tell it as it is and not to please nor pander to the needs or wants of the masses.
While law is not unmixed with politics, politics however should never reign supreme at the expense of law.
In a lawyer’s desperate rush to instant, yet ephemeral fame and wealth exhibited visibly in his grasping desire and interest in the money-grubbing proclivity, little does one realise that it will only reduce him to an object of taunts and jibes. Such mortifying image must be dispelled forthwith.
Not only must a lawyer portray an appearance of learnedness in his knowledge and virtue, he must at all times be equipped in full with the essence of erudition until the closing hours of his existence.
A lawyer is he to whom a perturbed mind may find solace to assuage his grievances, to whom the oppressed may seek refuge from the incivility of the world, whose hands justice is assured and in whose sanguinity inheres a flicker of light which illuminates the darkened heart of the aggrieved.
Indeed, this is one Herculean task. No doubt.
With persistence and fairness like that of a judge who strives very hard to dispense his duty to defend the sanctity of the law and to maintain the confidence of the public in him and in the judicial institution as a whole, restoration of order and its continued preservation are dependent on a lawyer’s wisdom in navigating the course of justice.
Only then is absolute certainty in the eternal strength and unshaken peace in our nation writ large upon our destiny.
* Alan Razak is an Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya.
** The views expressed here are strictly of the author's and do not necessarily reflect Astro AWANI's.