GEORGE TOWN: With Malaysia having turned 60 last week, it is only normal to observe how things have changed.
As we move towards Vision 2020 and the more recent TN50, we can see the differences in how things used to be and how the younger generation is carving their own way in getting things done.
Among the more obvious changes can be seen in the law profession, particularly as lawyers today are stepping into the limelight to champion various causes.
The new generation of lawyers have their own school of thought and this is evident in their appearance, as observed by a seasoned lawyer, when asked to comment on these changes.
V. Amareson said things have changed a lot in the past ten years and the younger generation of lawyers do not appear to conform to the conventional appearance and have styles of their own.
However he said this does not mean they should break away from appearing professional especially in court.
“There is such a thing as being taken seriously and when one sports hairstyles, accessories or clothes that cause too much distraction, there is a risk of them not being taken seriously.
“Even if they want to create a trademark image for themselves they should always maintain decorum,” he said.
Amareson cited examples of modern day lawyers with multiple piercings, colourful hair and colourful contact lenses.
“While there is no written law against those by the Bar Council but when it comes to legal practice one should appear professional.
“You should show that you’re a good lawyer through your work and appear outstanding by way of appearance,” he added.
There is however no significant difference between the new generation of lawyers and the seasoned ones in terms of appearance as even back then, there were lawyers who opted for the famed Trojan or Mohican hairdo.
Another seasoned politician opined that there is no problem as long as lawyers maintain their professionalism in court before the Judge and conform to the conventional way.
N. Murali of Murali and Co., who has been practicing for the past 18 years said that there is, however, an obligation to appear professional before the court if a lawyer wants to be taken seriously but admitted that young lawyers do appear more relaxed these days in terms of their appearance.
“What is important is they appear neat and tidy and not unkempt to get the confidence from both clients and also the judge.
“Then there are lawyers who have their own signature or trademark looks with coloured hair, beards or pony tails for male lawyers.
“It is like branding themselves so people can remember them but their work should speak for itself and not their appearance,” said Murali when contacted.
He also said that without the presence of those who dared to be different, the court would be boring.
“It’s good that sometimes we have amusing characters to look at, if not things will get boring,” he said.
Lawyer Azlan Abdul Razak, 29, who sports long golden hair and a piercing on his left ear told Malaysia Outlook he was once told to leave a Sessions Court after a Judge told him she did not like his “appearance”.
“It happened earlier this year but I managed to argue my way out, citing the secular issued by the Federal Court in 2000 which did not mention anything on hair apperance, only clothing and accessories.
“I told her with all due respect nothing was remarked in the secular and the determination of a case should be based on the merits of the case and not be based on the counsel’s appearance.
“As long as I adhere to the secular and code of ethics and keep my appearance neat, I think it should not be a problem,” Azlan added.
When asked if his hairstyle or apperance had caused him other problems, Azlan said he did not see it as a problem but an opportunity to educate people not to judge others based on their appearance.
“I can even say that I offer a different view of the court than the normal conventional ones,” he said.
For lawyer Siti Kasim, her appearance had not caused her any issues in court despite her blond locks.
“I don’t know why this is even an issue as the Judge will be the first to throw me out of the court room if I had not adhered to the code of conduct or dress code in court.
“Well all I can say is I add colour to the Bar community,” she said. – MO