Aside from preparing a case, after studying the applicable law and applying it to the particular facts and circumstances of the situation, being able to be a tactician is crucial to the conduct of a case in Court by a practicing, litigating lawyer. Growing up, I was always fascinated by the field of sports and thoroughly enjoyed (and still do) playing tennis, football, basketball and cricket amongst other sports. It was always interesting to be a part of a team dynamic – knowing your role, practicing it and then executing the task or assignment as a part of a collective whole. However, the individual sport i.e. tennis or golf was a lot more challenging. Pitting your wits, skill and tactics against another opponent requires a great deal of concentration, preparation and practice and knowing that you will have to change and adapt your game according to the particular situation you are in – requires a different level of thought and the ability to think on one’s feet. Interestingly enough, that is what is required to be an Advocate – to be able to have enough flexibility in one’s preparation, so as to adapt to what the opposing Counsel is arguing and also to possess the ability to answer a query from the Bench. As in the game of tennis, the Referee or Umpire is the final arbiter to decide a match, in the Courtroom, the Judge is the decision-maker. But the quality of the decision will depend upon the quality of the battle waged between opposing Counsels – which includes the legal assistance rendered and how tactics are employed by each side.

So what is it that makes for effective advocacy? ‘Advocacy’ may be defined as “the act of pleading or arguing a case or a position”. The lawyer has worked tirelessly to prepare his or her brief – armed with all the relevant judicial precedents to cite, the relevant documents to be relied upon to substantiate the arguments and is well aware of the applicable laws and legal maxims that would be helpful to a Judge in rendering a fair and just decision. What makes for effective communication in Court? Nowadays, with the volume of work and backlog of cases that our Honorable Judges have to dispose of, one must appreciate that they are there to advance the cause of justice but can only do so if the case is put forward in such a way that enables them to gain a clear understanding of the particular positions of the respective parties. As lawyers, it is our duty to persuade Judges to lean in favor of the case of our Clients. There is the Opening – where one states the basic synopsis of the case to be argued, including the relevant laws which are applicable. Then comes the relevant factual background. And then comes persuasion, where one utilizes the legal preparation acquired from judicial precedents, etc. However, this methodology cannot be strait-jacketed as it all depends on the particular facts and circumstances that exist on a particular day before the forum where one is appearing.

Most recently, a colleague of mine, who happened to be arguing his first case before the Honorable Lahore High Court in a fairly difficult matter, reaped the benefits of good preparation and effective advocacy. He was challenging the vires of a Statute and whilst arguing his case before a learned Single Judge of the Lahore High Court, it was apparent that the learned Judge was inclined to save the law rather than strike it down. However, knowing that upon a plain reading of the applicable law along with the relevant legal maxims and the judicial precedents that he was relying upon, at the end of his arguments, he provided the Judge with his Written Submissions along with marked copies of the relevant laws and relevant case laws in order to ease the burden upon the Judge in writing his judgment. And after having had the benefit of reading the Written Submissions which my colleague meticulously labored over, it would not be surprising if the learned Judge decides to rule in his favor – a task which is often difficult, but not impossible, if communication and preparation is effective and efficient.

Us lawyers are fortunate to be a part of a ‘learned’ profession. It is our goal to do the best job that we can for our clients. However, it is indeed an even more prestigious goal to render proper assistance to the Courts, so that they may deliver justice to litigants. And no matter what type of situation one is faced with in Court – be it an Opposing Counsel who will take every opportunity to interrupt an argument or a Judge who has been put off by either improper assistance or improper conduct of a previous case being heard, it is important for a practicing lawyer to keep their eyes and ears open so that they may adapt their skills of advocacy accordingly.

The writer is a legal practitioner with hopes for a better future for his profession in the land of the pure.