And then, K made an argument which was so naive, I was totally flabbergasted. He said, "When we engineers are asked to make a design and fail to deliver, we don't get paid. But you bastard lawyers, you demand your fees even if you don't win the case for your client. That is just unfair." I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I felt exasperated and didn't even feel like pointing out the fact that litigators are NOT the only lawyers. I am a corporate lawyer, I don't generally go to court. But, okay, let's stick only to the litigation aspect of the profession. People who don't get this, need to understand this once and for all... it is not a lawyer's job to WIN your case for you. It is a lawyer's job to REPRESENT you in a court of law to the best of his/her abilities in strict accordance with the law. No self-respecting lawyer will guarantee you a judgment in your favour, s/he will simply tell you what s/he thinks your chances are. He won't give you guarantees because he can never know for sure. Witnesses turn hostile, judges are paid off/have mood swings, YOU might be lying, evidence might disappear, new facts might arise etc. etc. This is the human, social realm we're talking about and there are no certainties, unlike the laws of physics and mathematics which engineers work with. The law of gravity WILL apply to everything. The fundamental right to life and personal liberty may or may not apply to you depending on a set of certain circumstances. And judges are human beings as well. What if your client's name is Mohammad-al-Rashid and the judge comes over all glowy when someone mentions Veer Savarkar? What if the judge thinks that all women who stay out late at night are women of "loose moral character" and your client was raped in an alley at 2:00 a.m.? What if you take your neighbours to court for blaring Om Jai Jagdish Hare at 350 decibels at 4:00 a.m. every morning and it turns out that the judge secretly wears saffron underwear and believes waking up early in the morning is the best way to combat alzheimers? We are not paid to win cases. We would like to. The more we win, the more cases we get. Our livelihoods depend on it, so we have something at stake too. But we charge for the hours put in by us. You CAN do your best and still lose, you know. I tried to explain unforeseen circumstances to K with an example. Suppose you built a perfectly functional and viable building and there's an earthquake and it crumbles. Would you not get paid? He dismissed it, saying that was force majeure, and that he wouldn't be liable for that anyway. Which was funny, because force majeure was a legal maxim created by lawyers. Like me. To protect the interests of people in such situations, which includes engineers. Like K. And then they come back and tell us the world would be a better place without us. I out-argued him on just about every point he put forth, but ultimately he decided we should end the argument because I would never be able to convince him, because his mind was already made up, and I said thank god you aren't a judge! Bah!
P.S. I may not have painted K in the most flattering light here, but rest assured he is a smart, funny and entirely likable person. He just has some weird ideas about certain things. I could have better articulated some his arguments here, but I am in lawyer mode and my aim right now is to present my arguments in the best possible way. See what happens when you aren't adequately represented?