17 Tips for Young Advocates Stepping into Litigation
“LITIGATION IS REWARDING, BUT CHALLENGING AS WELL.”
For new lawyers, hustling around courts may be tiresome.
You have to run around various courts on the same day. Your senior may tell you at 10.30 am that you have attend a matter at _________ Court at 11 am. And for a second you are blank, because you don’t know…
What the matter is about?, at what stage it is?, where is that Court exactly located?, etc.
It may happen that you may reach the court on time but sit in a wrong courtroom…
Calm down, you can smoothly tackle such situations. You just have to be prepared.
You have to be prepared for all kind of contingencies, Once you are into Litigation.
BELOW ARE SOME TIPS WHICH WILL HELP YOU IN SUCH SITUATIONS:
#1. DON’T TAKE IT LIGHTLY.
Especially once your boss assigns a task to you. Start working on the task given to you.
Complete it as soon as possible, because there are much more tasks waiting to be alloted to you.
Or else you may have to wait till midnight & even come to office next day early morning.
#2. BEFORE LEAVING, CARRY FEW THINGS WITH YOU WITHOUT FAIL.
AN IDEAL LIST FOR A LITIGATOR’S TOOLBOX INCLUDES –
|3)||Flags/Sticky notes for bookmarking|
|5)||A small stapler|
|7)||A small diary|
|8)||Some relevant application formats (ex: exemption, adjournment, certified copy, vakalatnama, etc)|
|9)||Some Court fee stamps||Available only at authorised Stamp Vendors usually near Courts|
#3. PLAN YOUR TRAVEL.
Ok…Ready to leave?
Will you go to the office first or directly to court? Is anyone going to accompany you?. Get answers to such questions, because you have to plan accordingly.
Use Google Maps for determining the exact location and the time you will take to reach there by different modes of transport. Google Maps helps a lot with this.
Take help of apps like ‘M-Indicator’ which works best for immediate information regarding any type of transport. ‘M-Indicator’ currently provides data only for Delhi, Mumbai & Pune, but you can find some other apps with similar service.
Quickly plan your travel accordingly.
If you are self-driving, check if there is parking space near the court.
Usually, courts are open to all. But, if you are going to attend a matter in Supreme Court then you will need a Court pass. So, see to it that the court pass is ready.
#4. REMEMBER – OFFICE STAFF & COURT STAFF ARE YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY.
Also, ask your colleague or clerk if they have been to that court or have done the task assigned to you. Relying completely on technology may not work sometimes. As your clerk or colleague may tell you something which Google can’t.
And keeping good relations with the Court staff will always help. Because inside a courtroom your colleagues or seniors won’t be around you always. But, these people will be always there.
#5. READ BOOKS.
As you step into litigation, you come to know, that ‘You Know Nothing’.
So, the more you feed your mind, more helpful would it be to you.
Read judgments, bare acts, commentaries, books especially related to procedural laws.
If you know the procedure well, then you can easily handle the situations in court.
The books below will help you understand court procedures in a lucid manner.
*Above images contain affiliate links
I agree that such law books are costly, and the salary you get at the start is just not enough.
But that’s not a reason to stop you. Your boss may be having plenty of such books, ask him to lend you some. Or pick it up from the court library, where you will be able to access a huge variety too.
Another effective way is to read ebooks, which you can read anywhere from your mobiles. There will be instances where you will get trapped and you can’t escape, utilize such time by reading some good stuff on your mobile.
Some ebooks you may also download for free from the internet. But, I would suggest you download the Kindle App and subscribe to any kindle unlimited plan.
Compare the cost of any book with the cost of its ebook format. You will come to know that ebooks are much cheaper, sometimes even half the price of the hard copy of that book. But, to be honest very few books related to law are available in Kindle format.
Ebooks help you read effectively as they can be accessed anytime and anywhere. Plus, they are also pocket-friendly.
You can try reading with the Amazon Kindle device and share your experience.
*Above image contains an affiliate link.
#6. CONTACT YOUR CLIENT IF NECESSARY.
Take the contact details of your Client. If the client’s presence is required in the Court, then contact the client & make sure he/she is present.
Take the necessary steps, if presence is required but your client won’t be able to attend the court.
#7. READ THE CASE.
At least glance through the case brief before leaving for court or utilize the travel time to read the brief.
Have a clear idea about the matter.
What’s going to happen on today’s hearing and what submissions you have to make(if any)?
Ask your colleagues or seniors about it. If you can’t, then check the case status yourself from the Ecourts website or app.
Your senior or colleague may say something like ‘nothing will happen and a date will be given so just go and stand there’. And most of the time their predictions are right, but still, I would suggest that at least have some info about the matter and its current stage. Because, if the judge is in an awful mood and you are unable to answer a question asked by him regarding the matter. Then you may have to go through some humiliation.
#8. FIND THE COURTROOM.
After reaching the court, find the courtroom in which your matter is listed on board. Because Courtrooms are usually not arranged according to their number sequence. (at least I haven’t seen any yet)
Somewhere near the entrance, you may see a map guiding you about the court complex, find it. If you can’t find, then ask any advocate for direction to the courtroom. Make sure that you are into the correct one.
#9. FIND YOUR MATTER.
After reaching the correct courtroom, check the court’s board which will be hanging somewhere outside the courtroom or you can also get the board on the table just in front of the judge, where all lawyers usually sit.
Read the board carefully. Matters are listed according to their stages. Check your matter’s serial no. on the board.
#10. BE ATTENTIVE.
Even if your matter’s serial no. is 53 and currently 32 is going on. Things may occur differently and you will be confused as to what is happening?.
- It may happen that after 32 directly 53 is called out. Don’t be surprised. That may be because all those matters were related to same parties and they were heard collectively.
- It may happen that 10-20 matters were called out in a sequence within 5 minutes because no Advocate or party appeared for it.
- A Judge may call out some type of matters first and then continue with the board according to the serial no. Another Judge may take a specific type of matters only on a particular day of the week.
The working schedule of a courtroom is solely under the Judge’s discretion. So, just collect such necessary information beforehand.
#11. KNOW THE JUDGE.
This is one scenario where your contacts come in picture. Tap in your contacts and get some information about the judge. Get answers to questions like –
- How’s his/her mood today?
- Does he/she encourage juniors?
- What common mistakes make him/her angry?
- Does he/she allows/rejects _______ application?, etc.
Also, check out in which language is the judge comfortable. For ex: if you are in a trial court and the judge is more comfortable in the local language then speak that.
#12. THE LAST MINUTE CHECK.
Check that you have the correct brief & the required documents.
If your submissions are going to be long, then write down important points of it on a paper.
Highlight relevant points and bookmark relevant pages from the case brief. Keep all of this handy.
Talk to your client. Make the necessary changes in your submissions, if needed.
If you are assisting an arguing counsel – keep your brief handy, see to it that there are sufficient copies of judgments and other orders. Any notes prepared by you to assist him.
#13. POINTS TO NOTE DURING THE HEARING.
Be punctual & appear in front of the judge, when the interpreter calls out your matter.
Make your submissions. Be audible, clear and polite.
Listen carefully to what the judge says and also the submissions of the lawyer appearing on the opposite side, because you have to update your boss accordingly.
At last after the business is over, write down the minutes of that hearing in short somewhere on the case brief itself. Also, write down the next date of hearing without fail. Update your boss immediately after that.
#14. MAKE YOUR NOTES.
I am not telling you to make proper subjective notes, as you use to make it during your college IF you use to make.
In this field, you will be learning some new thing every other day. So just make a note of what new thing you learned today, or just note the doubts/questions which came to your mind.
You can use apps like “OneNote” or “EverNote”, because these apps also come with many different features for making good notes.
It’s better to write it as soon as it comes to your mind. Recalling it afterward may be difficult and you may not remember. ex: a very interesting question which popped up when you were witnessing a murder trial.
#15. DON’T NEGLECT YOUR HEALTH.
There is a phrase in Hindi, “Jaan hain to jahan hain”. Meaning-(If) there’s life, then there’s the world. So, give ‘Health’ your first priority, no matter what.
As a litigator, you will have a tight schedule. Hustling around various courts throughout the day then returning to the office and preparing for the next day. You also have to accompany your senior to various meetings he may attend.
So, it won’t be possible for you to carry your tiffin box wherever you go. You may have to eat food outside.
Here you have a choice, to select what you want to eat. There are many food blogs which will help you with this section, you can refer to them.
The website of National Health Portal of India gives some guidelines regarding this – https://www.nhp.gov.in/healthlyliving/healthy-diet
Read information from such authentic sources, but don’t spend too much of your time on deciding what to eat and making a food list. You know the basic things. Like…
- Avoid junk, avoid too oily & spicy food, avoid too much of sugar.
- Don’t starve.
- Intake more fluids. A Big NO to soft drinks, instead go for fruit juices, milkshakes, flavored milk, etc.
- Go seasonal & Go natural, eat more fruits & salads. Include fruits, in at least 30% of your diet.
If you stick to such basic tips, even that would be enough. Because the food you eat affects you not only physically but also mentally.
But, at the same time don’t become too rigid and follow rules like a Robot. Sometimes, eating your favorite snacks with your colleagues will not harm you much.
#16. WORK ETHIC.
This is the MOST important thing. If you entered litigation just looking at the fat payments your senior takes, then Quit right now. Because, you won’t be getting it unless you work your ass off, gain the required knowledge & experience, which obviously takes time.
And to survive during that period you need to be very passionate towards what you are doing. Not to be selective at work. Whatever is thrown at you, you have to get it done. Also, maintaining the work quality at the same time.
I have worked in many places. The biggest lessons, I have learned from my experience is that, until you consider the given task as YOUR Work, nothing productive can be achieved. So, consider it as YOUR personal task, not your colleague’s work or not a task given by your boss, but YOUR Task.
If you keep this attitude, only then you will work responsibly and will come up with more productive & qualitative output. Which will eventually result in your overall development and growth.
#17. TRACK YOUR FINANCES.
At start, the payments are very low.
So, it becomes really important to keep track of stuff like, how much you spend, where do you spend it, etc.
You may also have to submit your Travel Expense sheet at your workplace.
You have a lot on your plate, let some cool apps do this work for you. Just update data regularly into it, so you have a clear picture of your expenses and you act accordingly.
There are many money management apps available in the app market, use which suits your requirements the best.
You can also make a simple Excel sheet.
I recommend using ‘Google Sheets’. The most important benefit of using it is that you can access you data and edit it anytime and anywhere. The only thing you need is your device, internet & a gmail account to login.
The above image gives you a short demo on how to start with Google Sheets.
I would suggest you spend only where it’s needed and save the rest to invest in some good books and educative courses.
Litigation is huge.
Gaining experience will take time, but that’s the most important thing you must be doing if you plan to practice law.
Plus, an experience in litigation will carry great weightage wherever you go in future.
The above tips will surely help you kick-start your career in litigation.
All senior advocates you see in the news today also started from the same path you have chosen. So, just be persistent, gain knowledge not only of law but also of Courts and other things. And you will surely live a life of your dreams.
Did I miss any point above?
If you want to add some tips, then please comment it below. It will be very helpful for young litigators joining the profession.