As a lawyer, I am used to being told I am wrong. That’s the nature of this profession. You have to advocate a side and defend your client’s cause with diligence and vigilance. No matter how absurd it may be.
Today, though, was different. It was almost an epiphany.
I found out it is tougher to engage in a legal argument with non-lawyers than with lawyers.
And don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about regular laymen here. These are professionals.
What made it tough was, though they were experts in their respective fields and they know the nitty-gritty of the law that their agency is implementing, they were tunnel-visioned by the same knowledge.
For us lawyers, we have a lot of legal tools to analyze and interpret various situations. We do not analyze a certain situation using only one law or principle. Most of the time, we have to use various legal principles to analyze, explain, defend, or advance a particular argument. We use the Constitution, general laws, special laws, IRRs, the Rules of Court, issuances, opinions, doctrines, and principles of statutory construction.
Using all these in court, you are pretty much okay.
Using these in an office meeting? Well, you might end up looking butt-hurt or unreasonably insistent.
It was tough seeing the smirks in their faces especially when I began to cite laws to support my arguments. I’ve never felt so out of place. I almost regret raising legal points and in retrospect, I should have considered just sitting there and swallowing my pride.
I could not help it though especially if a certain decision of mine was adjudged “defective” even though such act has legal basis – which they do not have knowledge about. I can’t simply let that slide.
Maybe it was ego. But as a lawyer, you have to stand up for what you know is right.
It was quite a challenge explaining certain basic principles of law to an audience which basically made up its mind and is no longer receptive of whatever you’re saying out there.
But what is really beautiful is that, at the end of the day, though we were looking at things in different wave lengths, we were aiming for the same thing – which is effective public service.
And of course, the take away is that this is still a learning experience for me. This just shows that I have a lot of things to learn particularly in the art of effective communication. It’s useless having all these knowledge of the law if I cannot articulate them effectively.