An acquaintance of mine is a solicitor who loves repeating this statement whenever we meet. Two weeks ago he told us that more than 15 people (i.e. international students and working-holiday visa holders) come to him for a free legal advice every week and he said that helping others is the primary source of his job satisfaction. As usual I kept my mouth shut and listened to him (in order to assess and form my own view based on merit and fact). Unfortunately, I was not able to sustain my silence for too long because somehow I appeared to be ‘disinterested’. Hence I broke my silence by imposing the following three questions to having a moment of ‘self-reflection’.
1) If 15 clients visit you every week, then it means you can only 12 minutes per client. Is having a consultation for 12 minutes per client proven to be effective? Is 12 minutes enough for you to understand a client’s issue and formulate a strategy to resolve the issue? You seem to place an emphasis on ‘quantity’, rather than ‘quality’ here.
2) Where does your responsibility end? Giving them an advice what to do next is where your responsibility end, isn’t it? Considering the most or perhaps all of your clients are either international students and working-holiday visa holders, I believe they share something in common – English proficiency level would be significantly deficient. Don’t you hold a view that telling them what to do next may be sufficient but not necessarily adequate? Don’t you hold a view that they really want you to act on behalf of them? How many cases have you actually acted on behalf of them and resolved?
3) I respect the spirit of pro bono work but I am against using it for ‘self-promotion’. You always brag about how popular you are by referring to the articles in community newspapers and magazines. Are you trying to promote your pro bono work or are you merely using it as a marketing vehicle to increase your name value in the community?
(After a long awkward silence) I said the following quote before taking my leave. “Work for a cause, not for applause. Live life to express, not to impress. Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, just make your absence felt.”