Something about my work...

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Written on 4/04/2007 07:11:00 pm by sikapitan

Football fans all over the world watched in horror as Italian police brutally attacked Manchester United supporters in the terraces of Roma's Olympic Stadium. Though United fans are not to be applauded for the reaction to Roma's fans provocation, it certainly seem highly unlikely that a bleeding man lying on the ground constitute any threat towards the police for them to continue hitting on him, time and time again.

The story continues well after the game, where police abandoned Man Utd supporters instead of escorting them to safety, resulting in a group of United fans being ambushed by Roma's famed Ultra fans. Knives and machetes were apparently used, with one Man United fan admitted to hospital for stab wounds.

I personally like a bit of argy-bargy on the football pitch, and even some emotional reaction from supporters, but perhaps football fans should reflect on themselves and see whether there is any purpose to these violence.

Now back to me!

The wall is a musty shade of what must formerly be blue. To my left are piles and piles of files dating back to the mid-90’s, and law journals that are surprisingly quite recent, but dusty nonetheless through lack of use. A simple fluorescent light hangs bravely to my right, while a lonely air-conditioner sits right atop my head. It’s never switched on since I started occupying this room. Blame global warming, or just the natural feeling of cold felt by formerly chubby people who suddenly lost a lot of weight (I keep on saying that, although I’ve had the same weight since my SPM – 6 YEARS AGO!...my body should have adapted, shouldn’t it?).

I have an office. That’s more than what most pupils (most commonly, and wrongfully, referred to as “chambies” - short of chambering students) can say. While my former colleagues are stuck in nameless cubicles or share a room with other pupils, I have my own office. It sounds glamorous doesn’t it? (Fergie goes G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S…is there a spelling competition nowadays amongst hip-hop stars?)

Truth be told, it is as great as Kevin Federline is cool (not very then). I could blame the lack of internet access (can you believe it? This is as ancient as it can get) or the less than pleasing d├ęcor, or the flawed bathrooms (when was the last time anyone had to use a pail?). I could even say it’s the fact that I can never close the door to my office, because apparently at this law firm, there are no secrets (but I just want to sleep…).

But the reason why I’m sitting in front of this PC (surprisingly it’s a Windows XP…I half expected it to be based on MS-DOS), and write this piece is the utter frustration of being…useless. The feeling that I am alone, at this office, at an emotional and intellectual level is beginning to gnaw at me, but that I can handle. It’s the fact that day in day out; I come to office, go into my most glamorous office, switched on my PC, and just stare at a blank screen.

There’s simply nothing I could possibly do. Yes, sometimes I’ll ask the clerks for a bit of work, and I’ll get to do some conveyencing (land matters like transfer of titles, charge…etc2) files. But they seldom come to me, simply because it’s the easiest thing in the world to do, just a bit tedious and require concentration. In their mind they would think why a law graduate would want to bother himself with something that they, clerks with SPM certs, can do without a hitch, and do it better too.

And they are absolutely right. There’s NOTHING much to learn from conveyencing. It is paperwork, and loads of paperwork, with procedures, which can be learned from an experience clerk in ONE week. So I’m left to do tasks which are “white peanut”, and utterly redundant in terms of gaining quality legal experience.

The staffs here (this is a sole proprietorship firm with only one lawyer, affectionately known as “the Boss”) are kind of sympathetic to my plight, I think. They, of all people, understand that in this firm, it’s the conveyencing files that bring in the money, and you don’t need a lawyer to handle that. Maybe some of them may even resent me for receiving a healthy remuneration, just for sitting on my ass all day. Plus, I come to work at any time I like, and go back almost 99% of the time earlier than anyone else, even the Boss.

But I have settled the whole remuneration conundrum myself. Yesterday, I pull aside the firm’s accountant, and told him that I feel guilty receiving so much for so little work, and ask him to just cut down my remuneration by half beginning this month. He understood my situation, and agreed. A 50 PERCENT REDUCTION in wages, and I asked for it!!! Some of you might think I might be losing my head, because if the Boss isn’t complaining, and the staffs are really nice and sweet, why would I want to cut off RM500 of easy money?

I’ll try to explain it. There’s something known as pride, and I think I’m experiencing something akin to losing my pride every time I received a cheque from the firm. I’ve said if before, and I’ll say it again – I am the best judge of me. And when I look at myself, at what I did or didn’t do for the month, I reached a startling conclusion that I’ve been overpaid…grossly overpaid.

Is it my fault I’m overpaid? No, you’re right. It’s not. Why should I volunteer for a discount when I’m here, ready and able to work, but the firm has no work for me? I don’t know, but I guess it has something to do with this whole idea of pupilage in the first place, or rather my lack of enthusiasm of the idea.

You see, although I’ve always done well in my studies, I have had moments, intense moments, where I am utterly clueless as to my next step. It has to do with my goal, my first goal. It’s not noble, and in fact it could be considered vulgar by some with a higher moral compass than I do. But the goal is my goal and the goal is this: to earn RM30, 000 per month clean by the time I reach 30 years old. It’s a simple goal actually, unlike climbing the Everest or going to bed with Nicole Kidman, but it’s the simplest goal that seems the hardest to achieve.

Do you know that law graduates have to complete 9 months of pupilage before they can call themselves advocates and solicitors? And in this period, the firm can pay as little as they want. I’ve heard of small firms paying RM400 per month. The bigger firms will pay you around RM1000 –RM1200. So you’ll be on that pay scale for 9 months after you graduated – basically a year gone down the drain.

Now for the big surprise: the most I’ve heard a new legal assistant (meaning lawyers) can make at a big law firm is between RM1,800 to RM.2,400 (of course there are exceptions like Wong & Partners, but try getting into one of those…). That’s a lot of money, you would think. It’s not enough actually, and it’ll never be enough as long as you work for someone (yes, it is trite, but needs to emphasized).

So what I decided to do was to complete my chambering period at a “friendly” firm, with a “friendly” master. Basically all I wanted to do was finish off this 9 months period so that I could be admitted to the Bar and at the same time developing my own business strategies to further my goals.

The premise was great – I get to do whatever I want but at the same time I’ll still be in a period of pupilage. The problem started when I got my first paycheck. It was way too much, and it kind of made me feel obligated to come to office, pretending to do some work, when instead I have one hundred other things to do (mostly related to my restaurant, which is a story for another day).

So by cutting the amount myself, I have liberated my tortured soul from the misery of guilt and pride. I might be losing RM500, but I get to do other work where the returns, insyaallah, should be greater. Maybe now you guys don’t think I’m losing my head…

By the way, it’s 11.30am. Time to leave the office for lunch (Melayu betullll laaaa)…

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