In Law, there is a certain traditional career trajectory that most of us adhere to, well, in Pakistan, at least. Once you obtain that coveted law degree, a graduate seeks an apprenticeship with a Senior lawyer in order to gain some practical experience. After the apprenticeship, one seeks to become a trainee lawyer at a law firm, then an Associate and thereafter, after much labor, effort and perseverance, to become a partner. Aside from this path, a lawyer may also seek to make his or her mark as an in-house Counsel for a company/business or join a regulatory body such as the Corporate Law Authority or other legal-related Government organisations. The career path of a lawyer really depends upon what it is he or she wants to gain out of the profession and what type of law they are interested in excelling at.

Unfortunately in Pakistan, such exciting career prospects are not available to all and owing to the current standards of our profession today, many young lawyers become disillusioned, restless and frustrated. At the end of the day, what one makes of their legal career essentially boils down to what one makes of their education and how they use it i.e. by constantly upgrading one’s knowledge-base, by learning to be competent at one’s craft and by taking whatever opportunities come one’s way. All is not lost - despite feeling cast away at sea most of the time - learning to navigate rough waters is what counts.

I have not only had the privilege of being trained and taught by my Ustaad for more than a decade, but have also been able to watch and learn from my colleagues, who have left their nests and gone out into the ‘big, bad legal world’ on their own. They too have been trained by the best lawyers and have capitalised on their training to make marks for themselves by setting up their own law firms - partnering up with each other - and slowly but surely, figuring out their career paths in our respected profession. The concept of establishing a law firm, as we know it through the eyes of the west or from TV shows and Movies, is far from being developed here in Pakistan. Here, the individual lawyer i.e. the Senior lawyer, is the sole operator, manager and captain of the ship and he or she will have their juniors and associates to assist them. And no doubt, that particular model is an established one, which works for most. Having said that, to have the ability to become a part of a collective, to be a team player, where the “needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one”, is a dynamic which helps a lawyer become focused, driven and creative. Whether it is bouncing off ideas amongst one another to tackle with a particular case, having the humility to approach another lawyer in a firm when complex legal solutions are not within one’s reach and sharing the spoils in victory and standing together in defeat, two heads are probably better than one.

What drives young lawyers to team up and work together? Aside from the financial aspects of the business of providing legal services to clients, the drive and hunger to establish, run and manage a law practice coupled with the opportunity to create legal history by having reported judgments under one’s name as a Counsel. I would like to think that those fortunate to have the resources and motivation to start a law firm, would also like to cultivate that sense of passion and desire to excel into those hardworking, young lawyers by giving them a chance to actively participate in the many different stages of solving complex legal problems, be it litigation related or corporate/transaction based work. What young lawyers need to realise is that there is no quick or easy road to being successful in our profession. It is a lifelong process, where learning is key and the ability to handle being put in pressure situations and delivering on time is of much importance. Whilst visiting colleagues’ offices, I have often observed their associates, and it is apparent that the associates thrive on getting assigned work and being able to get critique and feedback from their respective seniors - quite simply, they want to do well, be recognised for their contribution and become better equipped to become professionals.

The future of our noble profession is in our hands entirely. As young lawyers, we all have to realise that. We can moan and groan about our current environment as much as we want but at the end of the day, our collective and concerned effort to become better practitioners of our craft will only raise standards in improving the quality of how we professionals provide legal services. Into the great beyond we may cast ourselves, but it isn’t all that bad, as long as one stays humble, learns and respects the journey so chosen.