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Being streetwise when it comes to the law

Being streetwise when it comes to the law

Was playing tennis with my boys after work.

Yes, this is the 4th day in a row I had to play tennis with my boys because of the school holidays.

When do I get a break?

Was just looking at my sons in the tennis court and wondering how lucky they are in their life compared to the upbringing that I had. As I said in my previous blog, I come from a family of ten kids. I am no. 9 on the scale.

Our family was not remotely well off. Dad was a taxi driver at some stage in his life. He did what he could to support us.

Mum used to be a seamstress. That’s her picture on the page with my family at home.

My earliest memories of my mum are of her working as a seamstress. We used to live in state housing which were like high rise apartments. These contractors used to bring their sewing work to the apartment compound to hand over to people who wanted to do the work. They were quite selective and usually rude and overbearing as one’s livelihood could depend on their generosity.

I always remember mum having to plead to be allowed to do the work for them. My mum’s work did help to support the family substantially and to this day, I have always loved her for that. Visions of her putting water on her eyes to stay awake to finish the work has always endeared her to me.

She also used to frequent pawn shops to pawn her jewellery when funds were short.

The pawn shop would give her a hand written ticket in Chinese whenever she pawned her stuff.

In the 1970’s a pawn ticket of say $30 Singapore could feed the family of 10 for 1 mth.

I have a collage of her pawn tickets framed and sitting with pride of place in my office so as to honour her sacrifice to the family. In fact, I will put a picture of it on the blog as I am very proud of what it symbolises.

Which brings me to the topic of this night’s blog.

I believe being streetwise due to my upbringing has helped me substantially in my work as a lawyer.

I recall a case where a client claimed he paid $300,000 cash to a friend. He was suing his friend for the return of the money. I asked if he had any witness to the transaction. After a few days, this client brought in another friend who was supposed to have seen my client handing over the $300,000 to the friend he wanted to sue.

I questioned this witness at length about what he had seen.

Do you know how long it takes to count $300,000 in $100 bills? It takes a long time as I have seen it being counted before in another case.

This witness was unable to confirm how long the counting took. After substantial questioning, the witness admitted that he never saw the transaction. He admitted he was lying to me.

I supposed if I was not streetwise, I would not have caught out the witness. Better I catch the witness out then the witness going to court and be found to be lying.

Being a lawyer requires us to read alot and be able to communicate our thoughts and reasoning to judges and fellow lawyers. However, we also need to communicate our advice to our client. If we are not able to break the advice down to simple and understandable English, we will be failing in our service to our client.

Interviewing techniques are also crucial when we see clients. Being streetwise, I believe helps a lawyer to understand what to ask and how to make sure the client is telling the truth.

Good night for now.