“The lawyer who cannot see beyond the case is handicapped.”
This article provides comprehensive guidance for aspiring lawyers who want to achieve success in their careers. It emphasizes essential aspects such as effective communication, the art of cross-examination, building strong relationships, embracing versatility in advocacy styles, and understanding diverse social, political, and cultural contexts. The Blog highlights how these qualities can empower advocates to drive positive change in diverse contexts.
KEYWORDS: lawyer, advocate, communication, skills, qualities
Are you passionate about making a difference in the world? Do you aspire to speak up for the vulnerable and support causes you deeply care about? Well, becoming a successful lawyer is not just a wishful thought. But it's an empowering journey that awaits you!
However, now a days, some people believe that the legal profession doesn't offer a promising future. They think it's overcrowded, and many individuals end up becoming lawyers because they couldn't find any other job. But this perspective doesn't apply to everyone who chooses law as their career path with a strong commitment to it. If someone is dedicated, works hard, and puts their heart into the legal field, they can have a bright and successful future. We will explore into the essential qualities that a proficient lawyer possesses, going beyond the courtroom battles and exploring the holistic approaches that make them exceptional professionals.
KEY SKILLS TO EXCEL AS A LAWYER
When a person after getting the degree of bachelor of law enters into the legal profession find the giants in the profession having vast experience as his competitors and becomes nervous. It is natural to feel intimidated by experienced competitors, but this phase can also be an opportunity for growth and learning. Rather than being discouraged, the young lawyer should embrace this challenge as a chance to cultivate the skills and attributes that will ultimately lead to their own success.
Following are some skills, abilities, habits, traits, that sets lawyers apart.
Good Communication Skills: Lawyers or advocates need to have strong communication skills, both verbal and written. These skills are crucial for presenting persuasive arguments before judges in a court of law. To become better at arguing effectively, they can learn and develop these abilities while pursuing their law degree such as participating in extracurricular activities like Moot Courts, Debate, Youth Parliaments, MUNs and various competitions. These experiences provide opportunities to practice speaking fluently and efficiently, making it a skill that can be honed over time.
Critical thinking: Lawyers must think critically to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their cases, anticipate opposing arguments, and make well informed decisions. This can be achieved by: Analyzing cases, reviewing past cases to understand the reasoning behind court decisions and identify patterns in legal arguments; seeking feedbacks from mentors, peers, or clients; engaging in regular legal research and stay updated with new developments in the law to enhance analytical skills.
Research Skills: Another indispensable skill required to excel as a lawyer or advocate is proficient legal research abilities. Legal research is a crucial aspect of a lawyer's work. Successful lawyers are skilled at finding and interpreting legal documents, statutes, and case law to support their arguments.
Creativity: Some highly skilled legal experts and lawyers possess not only determination but also the ability to think logically, analyze situations critically, and demonstrate creativity. Sometimes, finding the best solution requires thinking beyond traditional methods or obvious choices and being open to innovative solutions rather than just relying on past examples or straightforward solutions.
Confidence: Confidence is an important skill, this is another quality that makes a good lawyer. Legal professionals execute confidence daily to appear professional, demonstrate their qualifications and support clients in court or during legal meetings.
Listening skills: To be a great lawyer or advocate it is important to develop the ability to patiently and carefully hear others out. In practice, this skill is highly beneficial as it helps the lawyer or advocate in various ways, such as effectively cross-examining witnesses, understanding the arguments of the opposing counsel, etc.
Empathy: Only those lawyers are successful who truly understand their clients' needs and worries. They show empathy, which means they care about their client’s feelings and provide legal advice and support with understanding and compassion. This connection with their clients helps lawyers to build trust and work towards the best possible outcomes for their cases.
Negotiation skills: Having strong negotiation skills is paramount in the legal profession, as numerous legal matters are required for effective negotiations. Lawyers who can skilfully negotiate on behalf of their clients have the potential to secure favourable outcomes without resorting to court proceedings.
Ethics and Professionalism: Upholding a high standard of ethics and professionalism is essential for building a positive reputation in the legal community and maintaining the trust of clients. Professionalism goes beyond technical expertise as it embodies how legal practitioners communicate, behave, and interact with clients, colleagues, and the public.
Enquiring skills: A competent lawyer or advocate should possess the capacity and ability to grasp the essence of various topics swiftly and deeply. They must be able to juggle multiple aspects simultaneously, including understanding their client, the case, the desired remedies, and the pursuit of justice. Moreover, they should not just inquire but also analyze the relevant provisions applicable to a specific case.
Judge Abbot Parry has mentioned seven lamps of advocacy-
Similarly, Justice Raj Kishore Prasad stated the three jewels of Advocacy. According to him, an advocate should be honest and a man of integrity and character.
STRATEGIES TO BECOME A SUCCESSFUL LAWYER
To become a successful lawyer, dedication, perseverance, and a strong educational foundation are essential. A lawyer should have a good command over language, a confident and expressive voice, and knowledge of law. Control over temper and adherence to a code of conduct are also crucial. Another important perquisite is the art of citing cases and being prepared to face precedents from opponents. A lawyer or an advocate must keep in mind:
The past decisions,
The law laid down in the cases and
The facts on which the law has been laid down.
The presentation of the case also plays an important role. An advocate should first present his best point. He must be fully aware of drafting the plaint and written statements. He should have a thorough knowledge of the provisions of the CPC, Limitation Act, Evidence Act and CrPC.
Moreover, he should always try to contact his clients and inform them about the updates of their cases. He should not advise the client that he will succeed while in fact he is fully aware that the client has no chance to win. In dealings with clients an advocate must have in mind the rules of the Bar Council of India dealing with his duties towards his client.
Art of Cross-Examination of Witnesses
In criminal proceedings, the object is to ascertain the liability to the punishment of the accused, in civil proceedings the object is to determine the rights and liabilities of parties to the suit and they are determined on the basis of the facts of the case. Here are 3 stages of examining witnesses:
Examination in chief: The initial questioning of a witness by the party who called them to present their testimony.
Cross-examination: The questioning of the witness by the opposing party to challenge or clarify their testimony.
Re-examination: The follow-up questioning by the party who initially called the witness to address any issues raised during cross-examination.
David Paul Brown, a skilled lawyer from Philadelphia, shared his valuable insights in the form of 'Golden Rules for the Examination of Witnesses'. While cross-examination is an art that can't be fully contained in rules, these 'Nine Golden Rules' offer useful advice for lawyers:
Rule I: Always maintain eye contact with the witness, as it's a vital way to connect with them and understand their thoughts.
Rule II: Pay attention to the witness's voice as it can reveal important clues about their honesty or attempts to hide something.
Rule III: Treat witnesses differently based on their behavior - be gentle with the mild, clever with the crafty, and firm with dishonest individuals. Always remain dignified and focus on seeking justice.
Rule IV: In a criminal trial, ask only a few questions if your case is strong. Avoid asking questions that could harm your client unless you are confident about the witness's response.
Rule V: Avoid asking vague questions that could lead to ambiguous answers. Be clear and straightforward in your questioning, whether dealing with honest or dishonest witnesses.
Rule VI: If a witness acts difficult, address it firmly at the beginning to avoid more trouble later. Stay composed and never lose your temper, as it can lead to defeat.
Rule VII: Approach cross-examination strategically, like a skilled chess player, considering the potential outcomes of your moves.
Rule VIII: Never underestimate your opponent; be vigilant at all times, as even a simple mistake can be damaging.
Rule IX: Show respect to the court, be courteous to colleagues, and treat your adversary with politeness, but always prioritize your duty over blind deference.
Being a successful lawyer is a fulfilling journey. We have understood that- to be a successful lawyer or advocate, one must possess vital skills, like communication, critical thinking, and empathy. Also, dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to positive change serve a way to a rewarding legal career. Through their effective advocacy, lawyers can make a difference in diverse contexts, driving positive change in society.
AUTHOR - Kashaf Ali