Why Are We So Afraid of Lawyers?
Many of us dream of never running into any legal trouble at any point of our life. More often than not, people only seek out lawyers in unexpected or unprecedented situations. In these situations, there is simply no other way but to find a respectable and skilled lawyer to be your legal savior.
However, lawyers can also be a tool to assist us in our daily matters. These include getting our affairs in order such as the drafting of Wills or executing a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) or simply to vet a contractual agreement before entering into one.
Further, let us debunk some common misconceptions of this trade, with the help of four lawyers at I.R.B Law LLP. They are Mato Kotwani, Mohamed Baiross, Norhakim Shah and Shehzhadee Rahman. Hopefully, this might make you less hesitant to navigate the waters of finding a suitable lawyer should you need one.
Misconception #1: Lawyers are Cold and Unfriendly
Shehzhadee: Who are these people? I would like to invite them for a cup of coffee with me! Seriously though, there are cold and unfriendly people across all professions! If at all lawyers come across as curt, it’s probably because we are always in a rush and have work on our minds and nothing personal!
Hakim: You won't be the first to think that. I try my best not to be emotionally-absorbed in my cases and I think I've gotten better at segregating my emotions from my cases. This is what many lawyers tend to do. Hence, it is easy for someone to perceive us as cold and unfriendly at times but it is only because we have been through numerous clients in the course of practice and we need to assess who is forthright and focus on facts rather than emotions to run a legal case in an effective and time-saving manner. On other days, we are human, just like you!
Misconception #2: Legal Services Are Too Expensive
Shehzhadee: 'Expensive' is in itself really quite subjective. If you are talking about the total amount of legal fees, it really depends on many factors, such as the type of claim or the expertise or seniority of the lawyer as well as the number of applications made. For example, the legal fees for a claim of a sum of $1,000,000 which proceeds to trial is likely to be more expensive than an uncontested matrimonial matter. Having said that, there are rules in place which protect clients from being overcharged by lawyers. There is also a warrant to act which is signed by the parties at the commencement of a case which indicates the legal fees for the matter.
(The Legal Profession Act and Solicitor’s Remuneration Order is a law mandated in Singapore to protect consumers from being overcharged for legal work.)
Hakim: To some, our charges may be a heavy financial burden on them, while to others, it may be quite affordable. Bottom line is, a client pays legal fees for a lawyer's knowledge (gained through years of study and training), for his expertise and experience (molded through years of practice), the time the lawyer has expended or is anticipated to be expended on his matter, and lastly for the client's convenience of not having to draft his own documents or attend court sessions himself. A good lawyer is also able to plan and strategize for our clients as well as manage the client’s expectations of the outcome of the case. Putting those into perspective, clients can evaluate whether they are getting what they are paying for.
Misconception #3: Lawyers are Busy People (Actually, this is true)
Mato: Without a doubt. It is common for me to start my day in Court at 9 or 9.30 a.m. Then it is back to the office where there may be client meetings scheduled or otherwise administrative matters and emails to clear. By the time the meetings and other administrative matters, emails and correspondences are sorted out, it would probably be around mid to late afternoon. That’s when I get started on the heavier legal work, drafting documents, conducting research etc. My day typically ends around 9 or 10 p.m.
It is more than money that sustains a lawyer for the hours we work and for what others think is a seemingly good pay. We carry heavy responsibilities on our shoulders to ensure each case is managed the best way we can, often times sacrificing our own personal lives. Most of us carry on as we are passionate about what we do.
It is also important to find something to provide a respite. Deejaying is a hobby I picked up many years ago. I still enjoy the art of mixing music and try to do it when I have the time. Besides that, I enjoy reading and watching documentaries especially about science and the universe.
Misconception #4: Lawyers are Only After the Money
Hakim: There was a divorce case I handled where my client was a Singaporean man, who married an Indonesian woman. When she suddenly left and never returned to Singapore, I decided that I had to personally head to Batam to place a national newspaper advertisement in order to notify her of the divorce proceedings. The matter subsequently concluded with our client getting what he wanted. There are some of us who will go out of our way to help our clients and it is not the amount of money which drives us to do this but our drive to give a client the best outcome
Baiross: It is a cliché, but a book called ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ by Harper Lee has inspired many generations of lawyers and I was inspired by it too. A lawyer fights for his client no matter who they are. I recall that the lawyer in the book was not paid fees. His clients, gave him vegetables and other farm produce. The clients were farmers. The lawyer still fought hard and he did the best for his clients.
The work of a lawyer is challenging and demands a lot of time and hard work. These misconceptions about them should not deter you from seeking legal advice when they can be a tool to your everyday lives. At the end of the day, seeking a competent legal professional that resonates with your case will set your worries aside. If you are worried about fees, IRB LAW LLP has always had fees are which are reasonable, affordable and further, we serve with heart which means we will try to manage the fees according to your needs.
This is a sponsored article by I.R.B Law LLP, Advocates & Solicitors (IRB Law LLP) - IRB Law LLP is a full-service law firm that advises clients on a broad range of matters, from family to corporate and commercial law. IRB offers top legal services at affordable prices and aims to deliver efficient legal services to everyone. Over the years, IRB has established a reputation for their high-quality service, honesty and a steadfast dedication to their clients’ various needs. For more information, head over to www.irblaw.com.sg or on their social media platforms (Facebook & Instagram).