dal niente

Month: March, 2015


Lately, I’ve been making settling into my role as a full time solicitor. Considering that aside from the principal solicitor, I’m the only licensed solicitor here, it comes with its fair share of responsibilities and challenges.

I’m learning a lot, which is always good. I do wish sometimes that it was a more structured learning at times (as opposed to being simply thrown into the deep end), but I’ll take what I can get.


I feel that I’m not so nervous dealing with clients. This is probably natural, because clients know less about the law than I do (otherwise, they wouldn’t be hiring us). However, when it comes to answering questions from other lawyers, it’s a bit nerve wracking because I feel they can always find some angle to ask about that I hadn’t considered, and thus have no idea about.

It’s a bit nerve wracking that the principal also lets me deal almost entirely with certain people on my own, with just a bit of supervision. When it comes to advice, she oversees it quite closely, but for a lot of other things, she largely leaves me to my own devices. I suppose that since the mistakes I made in December 2014, I’ve come a pretty long way and have progressively earned more of her trust.


[Sensei-R] wants me to grade to blue belt, but that means more tournaments. Tournaments are so much work– it’s not even that I’m afraid of attending them. They’re just always really far, and they’re expensive, and they’re invonvenient. The next tournament is this coming sunday, but the weigh in is the night before– so that means two trips out to the boonies just for that. The tournament itself usually lasts all morning and part of the afternoon, and usually only for about 4-5 fights that last maybe 2 minutes each. And they tend to cost 50$ or more. Sigh.

[Seisei-K] knows my name… which is frightening. He’s never called me by name in the almost 3 years that I’ve been training here. I kinda like the fact that he knows my name… makes me feel like I’ve caught his attention somehow. Even though it’s mostly for him to say things like “[Jinryu]! What is this fucking bullshit move? I didn’t teach you that!”


I was told, via facebook message a couple of days ago, that a cousin of mine who lives in the Philippines had been shot. Point blank, back of the head, as he was closing shop. No idea who did it, or why.

Relatives from Phillippines sent me pictures (from 3 different angles) of my cousin lying face down in his own blood on the asphalt. I thought it was a strange thing to do. I’m not squeamish about it– blood doesn’t scare me in the slightest (although the fact that I wasn’t squemish about it, considering how much of the blood there was, was in itself a bit metadisturbing I thought). I didn’t know him all that well, so I guess I don’t personally feel that much loss to be frank. I was just… surprised. One: at the sharing of such graphic images in Facebook messenger.

Two: at the lack of meaning behind the event generally.

What wasn’t a surprise was my immediate reaction, which is that I would never want to live in the Philippines.

Building Blocks

Last week at judo,

[Kobain], a brown belt who usually leads the warmup routines, wasn’t practicing because he had broken his collarbone in a rugby hit. [Batsugan], who is a black belt who sometimes runs the show, also wasn’t it.

Somehow, it fell upon me to lead the class of 30 or so people in warmups. I am a green belt, which is about halfway up the coloured belts (black not being considered “coloured”). I’m not sure how exactly it happened, but I had fun as the warmup leader.

Warmups are one of the things I love about our judo club, because we run a very complete routine. Each training session on a weeknight is 2 hours long, and of those 2 hours, between 30 and 40 minutes are warmups.

Given that I’m now twice the age of some of the people in the class, and that over the years I’ve learned to respect my body through a long and storied list of injuries, I believe that proper warmups are a key foundation to any martial arts practice.

The thing is, most people consider warmups tedious. But if you have an eye for it, and you look around the room, you can predict from day one of a class of 30 new beginners just who is going to be great some day– they’re the ones who jump high and duck low. They’re the ones who are struggling to do the 20th pushup, and who didn’t just stop at 12 to look around and see where everyone else is at.

The problem is that a lot of green belts and orange belts, who have been there for a while, tend to get lazy with warmups– obviously, they get better at doing the techniques, but that brings the problem of apathy and cheating.

It wasn’t so much that my warmups were any different from the normal ones we do– but I made a point of targetting “cheating” and making sure that everyone was on the same page.

I knew what I was doing was right because at some point, one of the orange belts called me a “slave driver”.

I kind of hope that I’ll get the chance to do it again.

Alcohol has its uses

Last Friday, we hosted a Continuing Legal Education (“CLE”) event at [the Firm].

One of the speakers at the event had cancelled at the last minute, so I had the opportunity to share a half hour spot with one of my coworkers to do a presentation instead. It was fun. I can’t say I was nervous or anything– I wasn’t– but I did feel a bit self conscious the irony of having a newbie solicitor like myself (who has only been practicing since October 2014) presenting on “Professional Responsibility and Ethics” to a bunch of seasoned lawyers. I was probably not too fussed in part because by the time it was my turn to present, I’d had a fair amount of vodka.

It was good fun though. I think that the way that these events are supposed to be is such that everyone has the chance to share a few glasses afterwards and get to know eachother.

It’s a unique position that we’re in– as a small firm, all the people attending aren’t people who work for us. Rather, they’re other small firms, who, similarly placed in the market, don’t have hundred lawyer rosters. So these things we host– they’re like a party for all those grown ups who used to be the kids who didn’t get picked in gym class. It is, essentially, a conference of outlyers and people who wanted the freedom you could only get by being your own boss.


I always wonder where does this statistic come from– the one that says that lawyers tend to be alcoholics. It’s not a joke. In Australia, [CM] tells me that it’s one of the general rules of thumb they teach (in the textbook) you if you work in Emergency– if the person showing up in your ED is a lawyer, you first try to rule out his problems against chronic alcoholism.

But it’s obvious that most lawyers in the room know how to drink.

I wonder if there’s something to be said about lawyers being so careful about how they mince words– that when it comes to social scenarios where they’re really not being asked to do any lawyering, perhaps they’re a bit reluctant to just take that hat off? Maybe that’s the point of alcohol to the profession– it’s a way that people switch off. In a social situation, it might be a way to mutually de-escalate everyone’s guard.

In a world of serious adult issues, it is a way of reducing us back to the impulsiveness and honesty of children.

Like Real Adults

  • We have a car now, and we’re financing it over 14 months.
  • We have credit cards.
  • Oh yeah, we have permanent working visas, meaning that we effectively won’t be deported from Australia unless we do something really bad.
  • We own a cat.
  • We have grown-up jobs: I’m a lawyer, and she’s a doctor.
  • We have a financial planner.
  • She gives blood, I give plasma twice a week.
  • We exercise regularly.
  • We watch Better Call Saul.
  • We eat green vegetables.

What did I miss?