Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Move Fast, Break Things & Get Shit Done

Lawyers think fast, but move slow. Such is the sad but honest truth revealed in Week Five of my "Drafting Against The Dark Arts' class.

(Check out my lessons for Week One, Week Two, Week Three and Week Four, if you haven't already!)

And NO Samsung Note 7 allowed! 

* * *


Civil war!

A dark cloud hung over the faculty. Students whisper darkly about corruption and mismanagement. Why do the same faces always feature in Law Soc projects? It’s a conspiracy, some say, a cartel. Interviews are fixed, appointments done behind closed doors. Without knowing the right people, you could never get inside the exclusive club. Equality? It’s all a sham. We’re all equal, but some law students were more equal than others.

Such feelings of discontent have been simmering for years, reaching boiling point and spilling over in public every now and then, especially during Law Soc AGM. The situation had gotten so bad that large sections of students were boycotting events.

Something had to be done. Enough is enough, said the Law Soc EXCO. The solution? To have a constitution – governing all student affairs, from EGMs to the appointment of project directors, from the disclosure of accounts to the removal of EXCOs.

Many innocent brain cells were lost


And so, the difficult task of drafting Law Soc’s first ever constitution fell upon the Secretary, who was known to be a good writer, and crazy enough to build stuff from scratch without certainty of any reward.

This was 10 years ago. And that Secretary was me.

So what happened to the draft constitution? It was completed near the end of my term, and distributed around. And then it just died. Maybe student apathy had hit a peak, so no one cared. Maybe it was badly drafted, so no one understood. Maybe it only sounded nice on paper and could never work in practice, so no one believed.

Whatever the reason was, it died. The next Law Soc EXCO didn’t follow up. It was locked away somewhere, collecting dust. The people who saw it had moved on and graduated. As years go by, it became almost like a legend, a prophecy, like the One Ring To Rule Them All. Did it even exist, the younger ones wonder. Maybe it was lost in time. Maybe it was never meant to be.

Founding Father of LAWS Society: Raphael


And now, it’s back on the table. Most of the clauses look familiar to me, even after ten years. It has been modified here and there. But I daresay 90% of its content remains mine.

I guess I should be happy, overjoyed. But no, I’m not, not really.

All those years, I do sometimes think about it. But it hurt, thinking about it. No, not because it was a waste of effort (I actually enjoyed and learnt a lot from the process). It hurt because it taught me a harsh lesson about people in law: that we love to complain, but not change; that we’re all talk, but no action; that we think like foxes, but move like tortoises.

It’s not just about law students. Take a look around you. The new Companies bill. The Personal Data Protection Act. The Competition Act. It took decades for these legislations to be passed. And they’re not even politically sensitive, so we can’t blame the government. Laws don’t get passed quickly enough because we drag our feet and don’t push hard enough.

Lawyers think fast, but move slow. Why? We’re risk-adverse. We don’t like to rock the boat. We’re scared to take the lead. We're always late to the party.

My latest project. Try using your Constitutions to stop this, suckers!


That’s one reason why I left practice. I wanted to make a change, and being a lawyer held me back.

If you enjoy working on projects that take 10 years to finish, then be a lawyer.

But if you want to make a change in the world, then you have to move fast and break things (including the law). Be like Mark.

If you want to get shit done, stop talking and start moving.

Unless you are breaking the LAWS, you are not doing shit

1 comment :

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