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Law and paperwork go together like bread and butter

Filed under: People and society by Hari
Posted on Fri, Feb 4, 2011 at 21:28 IST (last updated: Fri, Feb 4, 2011 @ 21:28 IST)

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PaperworkIf you're used to seeing lawyers only in the movies, or you are otherwise (very) badly misinformed about the legal profession, you might very well imagine that the average lawyer spends most of his time standing up in court and delivering passionate speeches to the jury or taking up cudgels with witnesses, the other party or the judge in a highly charged up atmosphere. Of course, most people know better. The movies make a mockery of the law and the legal profession.

Fact is, 80% of a lawyer's work is done in the sedate and sterile atmosphere of an office room pecking away at computer keyboards (in a bygone era, at typewriters). Paperwork and preparation is so important in a lawyer's work that it's role cannot be exaggerated. A lawyer who feels aversion to paperwork has obviously chosen the wrong profession.

Even if all the crime went out of the world and people stopping fighting each other in courts over their private disputes, there would still be work for lawyers so long as law, rules and regulations exist. Organizations employ the best legal minds not just to deal with their legal problems but also with everyday statutory and governmental regulatory compliance and requirements and ensuring that their work falls within the bounds of law. A lot of administrative work in both private corporations and governments is done through lawyers and bureaucrats. In fact, a lawyer is just a more specialized bureaucrat in certain positions. And as everybody knows, bureaucracy means paperwork. You just cannot avoid it.

I am not sure whether the myriad laws, rules, regulations, by-laws and administrative procedures were created specifically to provide gainful employment for a larger staff of lawyers/bureaucrats in government offices or it was just a natural historical development, but it is clearly a reality in this day and age in spite of computerization and simplification of many administrative tasks. Paper just won't go away soon, especially in a developing nation like India, and lay people will always have to fill up numerous official forms and sign declarations to get work done.

Part of the job satisfaction of the legal profession is knowing that you have successfully navigated the tortuous waters of bureaucracy and red tape successfully where lesser mortals would have quailed.

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