Thursday, April 07, 2022

Pray for me, Argentina

We prize seniority in my profession but I think that things have changed so much that seniority is almost meaningless. One of my seniors - he was called to the Bar more than a decade before I was - loves his senior status so much that he thinks that it confers on him great technical skill. If it were skills as a litigator, I would concede without a fuss that he stands heads and shoulders above many seasoned practitioners of those dark arts. If it were skills as an arranger of complex mergers or acquisitions, there are few who can hold a candle to him. However, when it comes to the drudgery of legislative drafting - the ouija-board-reading of legislative intent and the parsing of constitutional and legal language - the poor man is a minnow in a pool of piranha.

I mention all this to show the pernicious impact that seniority-above-all-else has on effective work. Many "seniors" are blinded to the malodorousness of their decision-making; the infallibility they believe seniority has conferred on them leads them to make professional and personal choices that often prove calamitous.

At work, I have been grappling with this dilemma. I am presented, more frequently these days, with legislative drafting work of such mind-numbing, cretinous dullardness that I must believe that I am being punk'd. There is no way senior members of the Bar would append their names to what appears to be the product of a political backwater like the dark smoke-filled backrooms of Kenya's political parties. The kind of schlock that is presented for "perusal, concurrence and approval" presents such grave risks to the Republic that I fear I may say something so impertinent and presumptuous I may yet destroy the government of the day.

It all boils down to the Seniority Syndrome and the fear of underlings to point out, quite rightly in my view, the utter nakedness of our seniors. What the seniors can't or don't care to see is how time-consuming it is to wind back their outrageous legislative suggestions and the rancour it engenders between teams - TEAMS! - of opposing underlings. Quite frankly, it is mentally draining and psychologically damaging for the less sanguine among us.

I had naively believed that the "retirement" of the more publicly reckless members of my poisonous profession would have calmed the waters. I was so very wrong. They left behind minor turd mountains in their wake that are now being trudged through the corridors of the State looking for professionals' desks to despoil. It is an election years and every bad legislative idea is being revived in the hopes that the distracted members of the National Assembly and Senate won't notice. Civil society has been so undermined by the refusal by its Robert Mugabes to retire that it is doubtful that there's a modern-day Mwalimu Mati to poke giant holes in those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad ideas.

So I sit and stare at these pages, praying for the ground to open up and swallow the authors of my distress, but realising, with despair, that those whom the Gods wish to punish, they first introduce to members of the Senior Council Bar. This is my personal hell. Pray for me, Argentina.

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