The Journey of the Young Lawyer
I vividly remember the first day in 2007 September when I entered the High Court and later in the Chief’s Court room. It was with the pounding heart and nerves on edge that I looked around me to survey the situation. I wondered which client would be so foolish so as to put a brief in my hands when he had such a wide choice of able, experienced and senior lawyers. I discovered that I was not wrong because it took even the senior lawyers a fairly long time before they could feel confident that I could be trusted to argue a case in court.
In the initial years of practice some lawyers are in terrible financial difficulties a brief even with a nominal fee would mean a great deal to them. It was sheer pronounce that I stumbled on the right platform to begun my journey. I was fortunate to join the esteemed office of Mr. Jai Vir Yadav, advocate. I still remember once he asked me whether I could argue a regular criminal case. Without giving a second thought, I replied “Yes Sir” and from that very day I got numerous cases to argue. The word “No” has no place for a person that has begun the practice. I remember in my first regular case Justice Ranjit Singh said that “nobody will give you an opportunity, you just have to grab it”. Even when you get nearly a chance to ask for the ‘adjournment’ or ‘Passover’ read up the facts and the law. Preface your request with some facts in the court and plead what your senior has bid you to do, that is, even he has merely asked you to seek an adjournment.
Chief justice Mr. M.C Chagla said in his famous book “Roses in December “no one can assure success at the bar to any young man who is entering the advocate’s profession. Success must ultimately depend upon the man himself”. Here another living legend Fali. S Nariman says in his article ‘Turning point of my life’ ” regular attendance in courts even if you have no case is what I would recommend. Believe me, I do it even at this stage of my career also. It is a great lesson for a lawyer who wants to learn and do remember “a practicing lawyer never stops learning”.
There is no other profession which demands such patience because, life at bar is never a bed of roses. Begin with listening and watching renowned lawyers performing in courts. On of the most eminent lawyers who have been practicing in our High Court is Mr. Anupam Gupta. He has much to look at, an impressive speaker with outstanding qualities. He is a mobile encyclopedia of law. Despite all the success he has achieved and the obvious distinction he has earned he still remains as one of the simplest persons that one can meet. The gentleman lawyer has an analytical mind and has an accurate knowledge of legal principles. His arguments are couched in such a sober language that a judge instinctively feels that there could be no possible answer to the case, as he presents it.
I am genuinely convinced that success would came to every young lawyer who has faith in himself. He must enter the profession with a zeal of the crusader. For years there may be no work, he may even be faced with prospects of starvation. He may sometimes feel that he comes to court and does nothing. He may see even less endowed persons intellectually flourishing in the profession. But opportunity comes to everyone, and when the opportunity comes no young lawyer should be found wanting. Pack your skills all the time. Library is a great place to be. Book shelves just do not store books. They exude rays of wisdom to be consumed. Enjoy the perfume of books. Feel them, touch them the books will percolate into your poses and with them, knowledge. I, remember, Last year when I was sitting in the library and making copious notes in connection with some case. One lawyer whose name I don’t know, who was passing by, stopped and asked me what I am doing. I replied that I am making notes. He took up the papers and told me “young man learn to trust your memory”. He was of course not suggesting that I should not take down notes but was reminding me of another virtue that I must cultivate.
I would like to like to give one real life time example on how one can change adversity into opportunity. A senior lawyer of south was suffering from some health problem due to which he was not able to sleep till late hours. And how he turned this adversity into opportunity. For almost 4-5 years till 2 or 3 at night he started reading different types of books, accumulated invaluable knowledge and gained enough proficiency also to write a book.
Develop the habit of listening, spending more and more time in courtrooms, listening to what is happening in the courts instead of loitering outside in the corridor or uselessly gossiping in the bar room. Sitting and observing in the courts helps you to know the type of cases that comes before the court, the manner in which cases are and should be argued, and above all, how judges react to arguments presented before them along with being conversant with the latest judgments of the court, this is the next best way to became an efficient practicing lawyer.
The key to success is the art of distinguishing the relevant from the irrelevant. It is the key that can open any doors. He must not forget that he not only fights the battle of clients, but he also assists in the administration of justice. A young lawyer is bound to fight for his client with all the force and vigor of which he is capable of. An advocate should enter into fray with zest and confidence. Lawyer owns a duty to his client and could not therefore be expected to be smitten by diffidence that he might be wrong. A lawyer is always paid to argue his client case and need not to agree with judge that his client case is false. Do not persist with untenable. Every ease has a worthy point to make: that might include the weakness of your opponent’s weakness even if there is no inherent strength in your own case. Highlight the weakness of your opponents case and strength in your own case. Be courteous to your opponent, even if you may have to differ with him. A young lawyer should work very hard with firm determination. Work on your weakness day and night.
Its not possible for a mind like me to articulate my words to express my heartiest gratitude towards that gentleman who is guiding and whose hand I am holding to walk on this long journey.
Wish you a very bright future ahead.
Gaurav Goel, Advocate : The Article was published in the Punjab & Haryana High Court Magazine in 2009.