In the prevailing professional environment of practicing law in Pakistan, us lawyers have earned a notorious reputation for effectively aiding in the delay in the process of justice, by prolonging cases through various methods – some within our control and some not. Take for example, the young energetic lawyer – brimming with confidence, armed with judicial precedents and full of enthusiasm in trying his first full-fledged case before a Court of competent jurisdiction. He has attempted to prepare his brief inside out and on the first date of hearing, he manages to persuade the learned Judge to pass an order in his favor, whereby a “stay” order is granted. Feeling chuffed about his initial success, his client is satisfied. The young lawyer then begins to prepare his next strategy for expediting the case upon the opposing side to enter appearance. Then comes the moment that us young lawyers fear the most – when the opposing side engages a “Senior Counsel” i.e. a seasoned player of the litigation game, who will almost succeed in attempting to bury our case in technical objections so that the actual trial will never start for years on end. An unfortunate situation but legally permissible, just so long as no judicial orders are violated and the process of justice is not delayed that much so as to amount to ‘abusing the process’ of the Court. Then what is the solution to this problem? A tough question to attempt to answer indeed…

A potential client is free to select a Counsel of his choice, depending upon the particular facts and circumstances of a case. Aside from being an Officer of the Court, an Advocate is responsible for representing his client to the best of his abilities i.e. to do what is legally permissible to further the interests of his client with respect to the brief that he or she has been engaged in. In our profession, we are ‘blessed’ to deal with all sorts of clients – the client who engages us to get a stay order and attempt to make it last for as long as possible; the client who pursues his case diligently and attempts to keep his Counsel on his toes by either accompanying the Counsel to Court for every hearing or by insisting on going through every draft to check for factual (or typographical) mistakes. And then there is that variety of client that advises the Counsel on how to conduct the case i.e. lawyering the lawyer, so as to push the Advocate into pleading the case according to what makes sense to the “vast” knowledge of the client. My Ustaad has always encouraged his clients to constantly keep him and his juniors thinking, “re-thinking” and revising and re-revising the work that is necessary to be done at all stages of a particular case. More often than not, his clients hold my Ustaad to his word but sometimes they cannot keep up with the pace of change in strategy; yet, through this healthy client-Counsel relationship, the client is better equipped to understand the many twists and turns that actually happen in a particular case.

After being thrown into the deep end of “learning the ropes” of civil litigation upon obtaining my license to practice, I was made to argue and try a fairly complex case relating to the enforcement of a contract executed with a provincial government department. It was my first case where I was to cross examine the witnesses of the opposing side and also prepare our client for his cross-examination. I can safely say that although our Client was a “detail-freak”, those details helped a great deal in being able to learn and understand the peculiar and varied facets of his case. And during the stage of evidence, I was quite nervous about asking effective questions that would advance the cause of our Client, supported with the necessary and legally permissible documentation to substantiate his claims in the matter. In the end, after studying the statements of the witnesses with the help of our Client and backing up our position with the relevant law and judicial precedents, the learned Judge was persuaded to rule in our favor.

The Counsel-client relationship is a sacred trust. When a client comes to a Counsel looking for a legal solution for his problem, the Counsel is there to guide the client in discussing the legal pros and cons of the particular case. For conducting the actual case, our clients expect us Advocates to do the same diligently, within the parameters of the law and to advance the cause of justice. Sounds very idealistic doesn’t it? But that is how it should be. Adjournment seekers beware – at some stage of your case before one of the numerous Courts of Appeals, the record will catch up with you!

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