A Lawyer’s Motivation
“You seem too young; wouldn’t you need some senior to guide you through?”
Despite spending quite some time in the profession of hardcore lawyering, this is what one young lawyer has to hear from people all around, especially clients. Catering to people who believe in this kind of notion and subsequently appearing before a court of law where the eyes of a judge also at times look for grey-haired lawyers, every lawyer has to deal with such circumstances.
This writing aims to make this profession more favorable for young lawyers and more importantly, serve as a humble request to the honorable members of the bar and the bench to perform their due roles. Nothing mentioned in this opinion is meant to offend the sanctity of legal institutions or the feelings of any individual – the purpose rather is to highlight certain factors that push for the fulfillment of duties owed by all of us as members of the legal community.
A lawyer is first and foremost an officer of the court and for her or him the sanctity of the office also demands fulfilling certain obligations, in addition to pursuing the interests of clients. This profession may require a little bit of luck to move forward, but it is an admitted fact that it definitely requires a lot of hard work, dedication, patience and enthusiasm to succeed. Alongside these efforts, one also needs guidance and support to go ahead and stand up for oneself. With whatever little experience I have had in the profession, I have seen a number of circumstances where a lawyer (especially a young one) finds herself or himself entrapped – many times because of the lack of proper guidance and support.
These situations may be explained through the following (fictional) dialogue:
Situation No. 1:
Counsel: Your lordship, I am appearing as a proxy counsel on behalf of the petitioner.
Judge: Where is the senior counsel?
Counsel: Your honor, he/she is unavailable and may not be able to appear before this honorable court today.
Judge: Are you an officer of this court?/ Are you licensed to appear before this court?
Counsel: Yes, your honor.
Judge: [dictates the order] and the case is adjourned for so and so date.
Situation No. 2:
Counsel: Your lordship, I am appearing for the respondents.
Judge: Are you a law officer/ representative of the respondents?
Counsel: Yes, your honor.
Judge (with anger): On the last date of hearing, I had asked you to get this particular thing done, however, your client has done nothing in this regard. I am going to take action against the concerned.
Counsel: Your lordship, I have to make a few submissions.
Judge: No submissions. You have three days to comply with the [oral] directions of this court, otherwise contempt proceedings shall be initiated.
Let’s analyze the two fictional settings. The first situation is quite common and a routine matter for those appearing before the courts on almost a daily basis. In the first situation, the issue gets resolved for the time being. However, the consequences may not be very beneficial. For counsel, this ‘success’ is result of a no-effort on her or his part – only due to the unavailability of her or his senior, the matter did not proceed further. In return, the young counsel is not gaining anything professionally. Instead of being granted an adjournment, the less-experienced lawyer may also be considered for being granted permission from her or his senior to argue the matter. Secondly, the court may also facilitate her or him to proceed with the case in the absence of a senior. This practice is not new and has already been seen in many courts and carried out by many members of the superior judiciary. Further encouraging this practice will not only produce more confident litigators but also better results in the disposal of cases. It will, however, require backing from the courts, more support from members of the Bar and some more efforts on part of the lawyer standing before the court.
The second situation, which seems more ferocious, is frequently being observed as of late. There is no doubt that it could be the result of deliberate inaction by lawyers, requiring an aggressive approach by courts, however, what needs to be reiterated is the fact that ‘before anything else, lawyers are the officers of the court’ - they do what they have been instructed to do, or sometimes required to do. The purpose here is not to let any violation of law or avoidance of supremacy of law to continue, rather it is to float an idea to support lawyers, so as to get the orders of a sacred institution implemented, not as a result of the fear to obey, but because of the respect to obey.
We, members of the bar and the bench, are not always seen to be compassionate people. We have to face criticism from every corner, be it a result of defending a thief or letting go of a murderer, be it writing oppressive laws or legitimizing a coup, or be it announcing strikes or delaying the dispensation of justice. Criticism is actually one of the perks of this profession. All we need is courage to defend our actions from such criticism. This courage will only appear when we bring forth more assertive and knowledgeable people through the guidance, support and collective efforts of the bar and the bench.
I have witnessed many people leaving this prestigious profession because of the lack of guidance and support both from the bar and the bench. I would like to reiterate that the aim of this writing is not to highlight a specific incident but to make a request to the bar and the bench to pay more attention to the betterment of this profession and make it more favorable for young lawyers. Every young as well as more experienced member of this profession requires support and encouragement in order to continue with her or his efforts.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CourtingTheLaw.com or any organization with which he might be associated.