Upon being engaged by a Client for a particular brief, a Counsel has a duty to acquaint themselves with the facts of the case as well as the applicable laws relating thereto. And an artificial or superficial reading of the facts will not be sufficient to either present the best case possible on behalf of a Client or for purposes of assisting the Court to come to a comprehensive decision in a case. Whilst embarking upon the journey of preparing a case, there are a variety of steps that a Counsel has to go through – and it is a tireless journey of “thinking and re-thinking”, re-visiting and distilling the possible arguments that a lawyer has prepared. With the tremendous volume of litigation that law chambers are engaged in at present in our ever-litigious environment, the obvious question would be: when does a lawyer get the time to do all of this “quality” work? There are Court appearances (which in most situations do not end swiftly on a given day), legal drafting to be done and legal research and preparation required for the next day’s hearings. Plausible answers to the aforesaid question may involve less sleep, working seven days a week and just simply, loving what one does. However, our real drive comes from our desire to be effective problem solvers and to that end, it is imperative that us lawyers not only “know the law”, but also be able to “find the law” – or as my Ustaad puts it: “Knowing the law is not difficult, finding the law is complex”

Our generation is fortunate to have access to the internet, where almost everything is available at the click of a mouse and the letters on a keyboard. In the days of old, all that one could rely upon were statute books with commentaries, legal digests and books containing judicial precedents. However, it seems that with the advent of technology, we have become intellectually lazy – trying to replace word processing and browsing with actual thinking. Like advocacy, legal research is an art as well – and by research, one does not mean merely trying to find the applicable laws and case laws for a particular case, but the thought process that is involved in peeling the many layers of a case. Legal problems are, more often than not, complex in nature and require the utmost attention to detail and the ability to formulate legal questions, which in turn produce more questions as opposed to answers in the beginning. “The unexamined life is not worth living,” said Socrates – well, for us lawyers, an ‘un-examination’ of the questions of law will make our professional lives not worth living. To this day, I am still discovering how to develop and inculcate the appropriate methodology to tackle legal problems that one encounters whilst on the job. Why? Isn’t law “black” or “white”? Think again.

Most recently, we were engaged by a Client who had a complex matter relating to a Company law matter pending before the Supreme Court of Pakistan. It was a case relating to the internal working of a particular Company and disputes that were involved inter se the majority shareholders of the Company. We were faced with a tough proposition of law and had been going round in circles looking for precedents from Pakistan and from abroad to support our argument, but had been unsuccessful. Faced with this quandary and with time running out till the hearing of the case, we were treated to a lesson in legal research by my Ustaad. First, he went through the facts in detail and examined all supporting documents. Then he looked at the relevant law. And after that, he looked at the relevant case law that we had found. Upon an analysis of all three components and after a thorough discussion (or the voice of discontent at our collective intellectual laziness), he asked us to examine the relevant facts with the relevant law and then pointed out to a particular judgment, which gave us a clue about what questions to focus on to find our answer. Sure enough, it pointed us in the right direction and we were back on track. By the way, the case was adjourned, so now we have more time to further refine our arguments! And yes, the benefit of time has helped us to reflect and re-think the work we had done already.

The profession of law is most interesting. By training oneself to analyze legal problems in “3-D” as my Ustaad so aptly puts it, gives a Counsel the benefit of being able to assist the Court properly and to present the best foot forward for the Client. However, to most it may not come naturally and requires a great deal of concentration, tireless hours of preparation and the ability to constantly upgrade oneself by examining and re-examining one’s preparation and performance in a particular case. And unfortunately, there is no college or school for that sort of training. Lucky for us, those who came before us have had gone through the hard yards and are here to guide us, for our futures and the next.