Mohammed Muigai LLP

CONFESSIONS OF A LAW CLERK

Dear Diary,

It is a sunny day, the birds all rasping on their nests, I suppose, and cawing on the trees, giving loud and continued bursts of songs early in the morning to which I lie listening. I doubt whether people read these diaries. In spite of some tremors, I think I shall go on with this diary for the present. I sometimes think that I have worked through the layer of style which suited it — suited the comfortable, bright hour after tea; and the thing I’ve reached now is less pliable. Never mind; I fancy the diaries of a Clerk, they are a spectacle read. He emerges as a seasoned chronicler, meticulously detailing the fragments of his day. His pen moves with a certain grace, weaving the mosaic of his life in words.

I envy how he writes so poetically; how his story flows; how he crafts his simple language. His entries are like a delicate dance of prose, each step carefully choreographed. He takes the ordinary and turns it into something extraordinary, making the everyday seem magical.

My handwriting seems to be going to the dogs. Perhaps I confuse it with my writing. It’s a scribble that mirrors the inner chaos of my thoughts. Lines once crisp and deliberate now waver and loop, as if the words themselves have grown restless.

I think too much of whys and wherefores; too much of myself. I don’t like time to flap round me like a moth trapped in the dim light of my consciousness. Well then, work. Yes, but I so soon tire of work—can’t read more than a little, an hour’s writing is enough for me. The creative well runs shallow some days, and the ink of inspiration seems diluted.

This is a day that I may not walk and must not work. The world outside beckons, but I am tethered to this desk. Whatever book I read bubbles up in my mind as part of an article I want to write. The words on the page transform into building blocks, waiting for me to construct something meaningful, something that resonates with the essence of this fleeting moment.

Today, the partner has sent me a notice of preliminary objection to file. I do not quite fathom the reason behind its filing, but the task demands my attention, and so I proceed. With measured steps, I navigate the corridors of the office, finally arriving at the clerk’s office.

Upon my arrival, I extend a courteous greeting, met with a nod of acknowledgment. “I would like to file this document,” I declare, handing over the notice.

As I arrive, he’s seated, crossing his legs and occasionally brushing his modest mustache with a meditative air. He asks if I understand the purpose of the document. I hesitate in my response, unsure.

With patience, he leans forward and elucidates, “A preliminary objection consists of a point of law which has been pleaded, or which arises by clear implication out of pleadings, and which, if argued as a preliminary point, may dispose of the suit.”

Today, I find myself in quiet reflection, marveling at how this humble clerk has assumed the role of a professor in the realm of law. His knowledge runs deep; how does he possess such legal wisdom? What practical insights into law does he hold? Why was I advised to befriend him? These questions hang in the air, like unspoken chapters of an unraveling.

I ask the question, not knowing whether it will offend him. Uncertainty shrouds the room as I inquire, curiosity getting the better of me. “Sir, how do you speak like a law professor yet you are a clerk?” The question hangs in the air, a subtle challenge to the enigmatic clerk’s identity. A brief silence descends upon the room, as though awaiting his response. “The question has seemingly stirred something within him,” I think to myself, as I observe the faint furrowing of his brows.

“I think he is going to chase me away,” I worry inwardly, bracing for the possibility of an abrupt dismissal.

With a slight frown on his face, the clerk surprises me by offering an answer, “30 years ago, I was passionate about being a lawyer. I completed my law degree and attended the school of law, ultimately passing my bar exams.” His visage now carries the weight of time and experiences, etched upon it like the chapters of an unwritten story.

However, just as his narrative begins to unfold, the partner calls for my presence, abruptly interrupting our conversation. Yet, the clerk’s tale remains incomplete, leaving me with a dilemma. Will he continue to share his story? Will he take offense if I depart abruptly? The uncertainty gnaws at me, but duty beckons. I must see the partner.

With courtesy, I inform the clerk, “Kiasi tu Mzee, nitarudi,” as I make my exit from his office. I do not fully comprehend the thoughts that churn within his mind, but the enigma of his past and the depth of his legal knowledge linger in my thoughts as I make my way to the partner’s office.

As I walk to his office, my mind recalls the article I need to write. It’s worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in the beginning of a new article quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in, and the initial enthusiasm begins to wane. Then one becomes resigned, understanding that the path ahead is not always lined with inspiration. It’s determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape, that keep one at it more than anything else.

I’m a little anxious. How am I to bring off this conception? Directly one gets to work, it’s like setting out on a journey, and the vast expanse of the task stretches out before me. I want to write nothing in this article that I don’t enjoy writing. Yet writing is always difficult, akin to navigating a winding and unpredictable road.

The partner maintains an air of tranquility. I enter his office, and he stops writing in his yellow pad. He has a peculiar practice of drawing a line on the right side of the yellow pad, this is a habit I have never quite comprehended, nor do I intend to question now.

His gaze rests upon me with a calm demeanor, “Have you filed the document?” he inquires. “It seems the matter was urgent,” I reflect silently. “Yes, sir I have filed ,” I respond. “Thank you very much, ,” he acknowledges, and I appreciate his courtesy.

Now, the clock reads 3 PM, and I am back at my desk, struggling to find my focus. The article awaits, and a meeting with the clerk is imminent before he departs at 3:30PM. The uncertainty of whether he’ll conclude his narrative compels me to his office. Politely, I request that he continues. He consults his watch, his eyes meeting mine with an enigmatic expression. I am uncertain of his response, uncertain of the tale’s outcome.

“Well,” he begins, a hint of remorse coloring his words, “I used to work in a mid-sized law firm. The pay was not much, and I had a lot on my plate. During that time, a client walked into our office, looking to set up a client account. We were not quite sure of the exact amount, but there were only two of us in that small office. So, I ended up playing both lawyer and accountant.”

As he shares this, I sense the burden of a confession in his voice. His mustache receives a thoughtful stroke, and he goes on, “I took it upon myself to handle the client’s funds. Maybe it was my youthful ambition or the allure of the situation; regardless, I couldn’t resist…”

He pauses, leaving the room heavy with unspoken truths. “But,” he concludes, his tone carrying the weight of the past, “the truth has a way of catching up. They discovered it. I was disbarred.”

He does not delve into the specifics, but the message is clear. He had misused the client’s money, and it cost him his career as a lawyer. Instead, he chose a different path, becoming a clerk – the next best thing to a lawyer without the title.

With that revelation, he promptly stands up, acknowledging the passage of time without another word. It’s 3:30 PM, and he must depart.

I’m left there, contemplating the unwritten chapters of his life, the choices that guided him to this clerical role, and the hidden tales of his past. The mystery of his story remains, leaving me suspended in suspense.

I find myself standing at a crossroads, uncertain about the path ahead. The clerk’s confession, a tale of humanity’s flaws and the potential for redemption, remains concealed within me.

As I reflect on whether to keep this secret or to unveil it to the world, I realize that uncertainty often accompanies important decisions. It’s in these moments that the beauty of life’s mysteries and the complexity of human stories shine the brightest.

So, with an open heart and an uncertain pen, I embrace the unknown, ready to write the next chapter, knowing that the beauty of the journey lies in its unpredictability. So, dear diary, this confession weighs upon my soul. The ink of my pen runs dry, as if ink and paper conspire to keep the poem I once penned forever incomplete. But its initial stanza must serve as my final utterance:

“In pages penned with care, a tale untold,
The clerk’s confession, secrets unfold.
In words, the past finds its voice anew,
A story of choices, both old and true.”

The poem, much like the unspoken narrative of the clerk, remains in suspension, a fragment of a story within the broader fabric of life. It leaves me contemplating the mysteries that remain uncharted in the journey of our existence.

Contributor
PETER MOGOBA
Legal Intern.

Peter is a fourth year law student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
He is currently working as a legal intern at the firm.

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