Editor’s note: If you are about to graduate or are a first-year legal associate, this post is for you. Having experienced nearly worlds end in the legal profession Prof. Swamy took some time out to mentor young generation lawyers. This post presents several takeaways – professional as well as philosophical. Read on to follow! Takeaway 4 is my personal favorite!
This post has been contributed by Prof. V Narayana Swamy. He has more than four decades of experience as a lawyer in the High Court of Karnataka. At the same time, he has been actively involved as an academician and has also authored several law books.
Prof. V Narayan Swamy…
So, you have entered the legal profession? The world’s most flamboyant profession! After enrolment with the State Bar Council, with all new brand robe, you are feeling proud having become an Advocate; hitherto you were only Mister or Miss or Mrs. or Smt and so on, but now you have a new prefix/suffix to your name, that is, “Advocate/Attorney”. One should be proud to serve the society as an Advocate for advocacy is not a regular profession but a service.
It’s your first day in Court as an advocate – You enter the Courtroom, you see the Judge functioning; you bow down showing respect, following the courtroom ethics and etiquettes you learned during your internships. On your first day in Court, make sure to explore the Court premises, understand the type of cases mostly dealt with by that Court, trace out the courtrooms as well as court offices, canteens. Do not forget to locate the Toilets!
For those of you wondering the reason for bowing down before a Magistrate/Judge? This tradition has a rather curious origin. See here.
Have empathy, but keep your mind open!
Lawyers are known for minding their clients’ interest prior to their own kith and kins. No matter what happens to their family members at home they go on safeguarding and protecting their clients’ family.
Takeaway 1: A word of caution to young advocates – ‘Do not encourage or recommend and resort to frivolous litigation, even if your client insists, if there is no bonafide and valid claim’.
Know the jurisdiction of the forum/court
You must be knowing that the Supreme Court of India is located in New Delhi. The High Courts are situated in the State capital and some states may have circuit Benches in addition to the State headquarters. The Central and State Administrative tribunals, Debt Recovery Tribunal, Revenue, Co-operative, Transport, Sales Tax Appellate Tribunals and others where Lawyers are permitted to appear for the parties and the other places are essentially known to any advocate practicing; because no one knows what type of case comes to him from time to time.
In case you need to file a complaint before the consumer forum or complaint relating to bouncing of cheque or a suit for injunction or a suit to recover the debt due on a negotiable instrument or service matter of a state/central government staff or a case of gratuity or under Industrial Disputes Act, then it is bounden duty to locate or find out where these courts are situated and address as also the procedure followed for filing a fresh case and other related information.
Takeaway 2: You do all these investigations in the absence of your client, otherwise, he will think that you are a raw hand or ‘L Board Lawyer’(of ‘Learner Licence’ holder) and may change his mind and go away to some other advocate.
Openness to accept any Case/Matter
An advocate cannot have a choice in the beginning. She should take each and every case that comes to her and file cases in the respective forums. After reaching a certain stage in her career she may choose to practice in a specified subject matter; say civil, criminal, revenue, co-operative, labour, service, writ petition and the like, depending upon what type of cases she gets in the course of time. That may take quite a long time of at least a decade of continuous, strenuous, serious and sincere practice.
Takeaway 3: Be open to take any case that comes in your way and gradually build your expertise.
Need to be Cautious
The clients normally desire to wreck vengeance against their opponents. Lawyers cannot become a victim of clever vengeance game of the litigants/clients merely because they pay the fee to lawyers. Lawyers are not slaves or employees of clients but masters and commanders of the clients. It is for you to judge which matter, how much of the statement and to what extent and context the instructions can be legal, without amounting to defamation, may be adopted into writing in the pleading since you are liable to answer the Judge and opponent and not your client.
If it comes to neck the client may escape saying that he has not instructed the advocate to make such and such a submission; then you will become the scapegoat of client’s foul game. He has nothing to lose as he may take ‘no objection’ from you and engage another advocate and you lose your reputation and rapport with the court and colleagues, be on your own guard.
Takeaway 4: Be careful about the exaggerated version of the story of your clients. You cannot state each and everything talked over against the opposite party in the plaint or written statement.
Image from here.