The Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana, today conducted a session on the theme “Perseverance is not a long race, it is many short races one after the other: Lessons for a Young Lawyer’
Mr. Karanjit Singh, Chairman of the Bar Council gave the welcome address, and said that they couldn’t have had better speakers than Justice Khanna and Mr Robertson to guide the young lawyers.
Justice Khanna in his address spoke about the legal profession and the qualities that the advocates should have and the skills that they must work on. Quoting William Blake he said that, great things are done when men and women and mountains meet, and even though these are simple words, they do have a deep meaning.
He added that, there is always some place on the top, which means that none should be scared of competing. One must be in competition with themselves and not others.
Justice Khanna also talked about the art of advocacy and certain skills that a lawyer should know, including logical thinking, art of persuasion and making persuasive arguements, etc.
- Oratory skills are important in advocacy, and Oratory skills are something that can be practiced and learned.
- Simplicity and clarity in an advocate’s arguements are important. Besides simplicity, and clarity, the Judges do note the time taken in presenting the arguement.
- A lawyers must persuade without aggression. As someone said, advocacy is art of arguing without arguing. As an advocate, one needs to forget about themselves and their client while arguining, and think about the Judge, as its the Judge that they are arguing before.
- The lawyers need to work on their knowledge of laws and the principles. The lawyers, who are strong in their knowledge if law as to the principle in question, will go a long way. There is a wide gap between what is taught in colleges and what comes to use later while arguing in Courts.
- There should be no hesitation in approaching a senior for help as it will help the lawyers gain benefit from their experience.
- Apart from legal knowledge the profession requires that the lawyer is in complete knowledge of facts. The lawyer who knows his facts on tip is bound to be proficient in the Court.
- The skill of managing knowledge is also important, and an advocate should maintain a diary and register of his legal research, and update it. It will be like a report card and help keep in check what has been done in a day.
Justice Khanna also stated that in his experience, judges are more welcoming to young lawyers and give more leeway to them as compared to the senior lawyers.
There are a large number of first generation lawyers, practising not only in Supreme Court and High Court but also the other Courts. Justice Fathima Beevi the first woman judge of Supreme Court was also a first generation lawyer.
According to him, Perseverance in life of lawyer means taking small steps and working on self improvement .
“In India, we induct about 70k lawyers every year. The Bar Councils should work on polishing their skills. Each sector requires different set of skills.Our law colleges are somehow not able to take up that challenge. More emphasis must be put on in the district level” Justice Sanjiv Khanna said.
Mr.Geoffrey Robertson, began his address by saying that independence is an important feature of the legal profession, that makes it worth all the work, and studying and the perseverance.
According to him, the morals change, attitude of society change, and if we persevere, we can make changes happen.
He gave an example of “MeToo’ movement for women, quoting the case of Harvey Weinstein, whose lawyers, he said, had tried to ensure what he did remained confidential, by getting confidentiality agreements signed. However, its because of that case that now lawyers can’t devise confidentiality agreements to hide their client’s crimes.”
Talking about the importance of courage, he said that Courage isn’t often associated with lawyers and is rather associated with doctors and nurses.
However, there are lawyers who find a degree of courage and stand up to government, and there even are Countries where lawyers are jailed for standing up to government or their activities.
“In democratic countries, thats what lawyers should do, in countries which think that there should be rule of law. China is the worst example of that. Even in India, courage may be needed if you are a lawyer in Jammu or Kashmir. Courage may be needed from Indian lawyers. I have seen your agencies trying to bring up the age old crime of sedition for criticising the government,” – Geoffrey Robertson said
Talking about sedition, he talked about how he had once acted for Salman Rushdie who was being targeted by some groups for writing his book the Satanic verses.
“Sedition charges, and action against human rights agencies must be combated by the legal profession in India,” he said.
This session was conducted by the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana as part of its series of Virtual Dialogue Sessions on contemporary legal topics..
The virtual sessions will aim at covering all the contemporary legal topics with their practical aspects especially during these uncertain times and will feature Judges, Members of the Indian Parliament, Indian and Global legal luminaries, known legal scholars and field experts.
-India Legal Bureau