Becoming a litigating lawyer requires many investments. There is the investment of labor. Investment of thought and re-thinking. Investment of time (hours, days, months, years). Investment in experience – in Court, with Clients and amongst Colleagues. Investment in splitting up oneself into two parts – one person for the home and one person for being a competent, legal professional. And then there is also the requirement of investing in one of the fundamental tools of the trade – legal textbooks, digests, Case Laws, Bare Acts, Commentaries, to name just a few. The library of a litigating lawyer is an investment which requires diligence, consideration, interest and most of all – the desire to constantly upgrade oneself with the ability to process and absorb one’s reading and applying to real life situations on the job. When one goes to Court to argue a case, the litigating lawyer is expected to have ready with him or her, the statute books and judicial precedents which they would be relying upon to put their case forward. No matter how sharp you look – no matter what kind of degree you have – and no matter how confident you are of your advocacy skills in Court, there is no substitute for investing in the quality of one’s legal research via the Books a lawyer has access to.

Being problem solvers for their Clients and Officers of the Court in assisting a Judge for delivering a judgment in a particular case, litigating lawyers will spend many a sleepless night looking for that “clincher” – the one or few binding or persuasive judicial precedents that may help them on their day in Court. At the beginning of one’s journey into the legal profession, one may not be so fortunate to make such an investment in the huge knowledge database that is the law. However, being able to work in the chambers of a Senior lawyer or a reputable law firm is an eye opener for young advocates, seeking to have all research materials required to do their work. When I joined my Ustaad at his Chamber as an Apprentice, I was amazed by how many books there were in the library. There were law digests and law reports from England, America, Australia and India spanning from the late 19th century to the early 20th century and onwards. Then there were foreign textbooks – “Chitty on Contracts”, “Maxwell on Interpretation of Statutes”, “Administrative law” by Roscoe Pound, just to name a few. Being a predominantly civil litigation law firm, there were multiple copies and various commentaries of the “Bible” of Civil Law – The Civil Procedure Code, 1908. Books containing judicial precedents from Pakistan, India, England – “PLDs”, “SCMRs”, “AIRs”, “ALL E.R.s”, “MLDs”, “PLJs” – it was enough to make one’s head spin! Then came all the different law dictionaries and English language dictionaries and on and on and on.

There was one occasion when we were accompanying my Ustaad for a hearing before the Supreme Court of Pakistan. When one appears before the Superior Courts in Pakistan, it is good practice to present a list of judicial precedents and books that would be relied upon during arguments to the Clerk of the Court prior to the case being called. This enables the Court staff to take out copies of the Books, during arguments, for the benefit of the Judges. The case involved various questions relating to the limits of administrative powers used by executive authorities, as provided for under the Constitution. Aside from the judicial precedents that we were relying upon, there were about 10-15 textbooks that were going to be used to cite from. We were travelling from Lahore and I had put those textbooks in a large bag/suitcase to bring to Court. Upon seeing my difficulty in arranging all of the materials at our disposal in a practical form for use in Court, he would (and still does) grumble and say “Is all of this really necessary? Can it not be done in a more efficient manner?” More often than not, having the extra books has always come in handy and during the case before the Supreme Court, my Ustaad was able to argue the case effectively and efficiently because he had ready access to the books and there were also extra books which we brought along just in case. And those extra books just so happened to be referred to by the learned Bench hearing the case!

A litigating lawyer is always learning on the job. Every day, a new proposition of law with its further sub-questions will arise. And in order to be able to tackle these never-ending legal matters, it is imperative for the Advocate to have at his disposal, the necessary legal raw material to help him or her prepare a case. Nowadays, there are online law digests which one can subscribe to – but there is nothing like the sound, smell and sight of a voluminous legal digest or case law book to absorb into the wee hours of the night for the tireless soldier of justice!