In India, the profession of law is one of honour and it goes beyond the role of lawyers, their duties or their manner of functioning in courts and even the details of professional etiquette. Lawyers in India emerge as the facilitators in the administration of justice because they present the legal and factual aspects of a case to a judge and clarify points based on technical accuracy of legal principles before the Judge, sometimes forcefully and sometimes persuasively.
That is why we, as lawyers, are often prescribed a heavy dose of general reading literature apart from regular legal updates. For all lawyers and law students, the works of Henry Fielding, Thackeray, Samuel Warren, Sir Walter Scott, R.L.Stevenson and Henry Cecil are highly recommended for reading and learning. Their works are creative but rich in legal allusion as they were legal luminaries at the time.
Besides, there are so many regulations prescribed to safeguard the nobility of this profession such as laws on an advocate’s duty to a court, duty to one’s colleagues, duty to one’s clients and duty to render legal aid to the poor and the needy. When there are certain unique circumstances, lawyers can refuse to accept a particular brief too, provided those circumstances are appropriate. So much emphasis is given to disciplined conduct, such as having a schedule in place for every case, keeping records meticulously, updating in depth knowledge tirelessly and polishing work to perfection.
Yet, the typical public perception of a lawyer is that of distrust and cynicism. As a nation, we forget that our respect for this profession needs to be reciprocal if lawyers in India are to play a significant decision making role in upholding the welfare and interests of the society. As a result, every lawyer who practices in India bears the burden of this distrust. A lawyer’s treatment and interaction with his/her client becomes the most decisive test of his character.
To me, as a lawyer, winning a case is definitely important but what is more important are other less spoken about factors such as winning the trust of a client with the hard work and discipline the profession entails, because without that trust, nothing is really possible. To conclude, I wish to borrow a famous quote from Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer, who advised lawyers in the following words, “Do not commit ‘robbed’ robbery.”
[ Sanand Ramakrishnan, the author of this post, is a lawyer by profession and passion. He enjoys discussing legal complexities that pertain to company and tax laws, intellectual property rights, arbitration and constitutional laws.]