One of the more interesting aspects of my job is that I get thrown into new situations every other day. Whether I have asked for it or not. Which is mostly not fun at all; not only is the illusory nature of free choice made quite clear, but to be made to stand face to face with your own incompetence is a deeply unpleasant exercise.

Of course, and thank the good Lord for that, there are some exceptions. What I am about to describe to you is one of them.

Some time back, I had the chance to meet a potential client. Along with the client’s father. In fact, it had been the father who had initiated the meeting, something which is unusual in my line of work. Post-graduate students, at least in my experience, do not involve their family in the counselling/consulting process (even though the tuition itself will be paid by the Family Bank Incorporated).

Anyway, so there I am sitting in front of father and “child” watching so many competing, clashing and cooperating emotions jostle it out. There was concern. For the father it was concern over whether this was a good choice to make, whether this is what his child would enjoy, what the career prospects would be. For the “child”, there was concern about her own future, whether the financial investment would be justified.

There was also an element of competing, well not competing but divergent interests. The daughter wanting to go on her own path, perhaps a tad bit shakily. The father, wanting somewhat of the same (this was a hands-off parent as far as I could tell) but also unable to be completely detached.

And there was also this aspirational element. The daughter wanting to do well, to find approval at some level, while also chasing her own, individual ambitions. The father watching this all from a distance, slightly unsure, but willing himself to not step in too close.

Of course, there was also plenty of love. Plenty of it. That much was clear, and it was beautiful to watch.

At work, I think I often get far too caught up in the race for admissions, forgetting that my clients are humans after all. Or as close to humans as lawyers can get. And we human beings so often have conflicting, diverging, clashing emotions that shape our decisions. Emotions that involve more than one individual, and decisions that are taken with a very real sense of togetherness. This is probably more true in India, than elsewhere, and makes for such an interesting study.

Of course, the cynic in me would say that the greatest learning here is that I should start targeting parents rather than their offspring. And I probably will.

But that would be missing the point.

Of that I am sure. Quite sure.

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