Nowadays, we lawyers have a tendency to think that because we have prepared our brief so ‘thoroughly’, when we come to Court, it is almost expected that we will get that ‘stay order’ from a Court. We come to Court - armed with our notes, judicial precedents and swagger, knowing that anything less will seem as though we are either unprepared or that our client may suffer. However, what we fail to understand and realize is that in our judicial system, there is a Judge who is setting on the Bench – a human being who is required by a sworn oath and regulated by a code of Conduct, to see that justice is done and that all the necessary legal stakeholders participate in the process of ‘adjudication’. So, who are these persons who “wear all the laws of the country on the sleeves of their robes”? In the eyes of a Client, they are the final arbiters of justice in a particular case. In the eyes of a lawyer, the Judge is responsible for judicially considering the applicable facts and law of a case and giving a statement of the reasons for a decision i.e. a judgment. A heavy burden is indeed cast upon the shoulders of judges, and lawyers have an important role to play in lightening or increasing that burden.

The task of a Judge in our country is an arduous task, given the prevailing circumstances in which he or she is expected to perform their duties. Aside from being responsible for deciding cases, Judges have to ensure that decorum is respected in their Courtrooms; they are expected to hear a large number and a complex variety of cases on a given day; and of course, they are expected to be fair, honest and impartial whilst deciding cases. Being a part of the legal community, it is often a hard pill to swallow when one views or reads about a lawyer being discourteous to a Judge for any reasons and even worse, where after a Judge decides to take action against a lawyer who misconducts himself and the subsequent fallout that occurs in the shape of numerous strikes and various resolutions passed by Bar Associations. Having said that, Bar Associations are a vital part of the legal engine as they play a fundamental role in ensuring that the voices of lawyers are heard on issues that are necessary to be addressed for the functioning of the legal system. But that is another aspect altogether. For a litigating lawyer, the challenge that exists is to be able to persuade the Judge through one’s legal preparation, advocacy and some psychology to give a decision on the merits of the case, and of course, in favor of the lawyer. Whilst ‘learning on the job’ during my long apprenticeship, I often sought permission of my Ustaad to go and spend some time in the different Courts of competent jurisdiction on a weekly basis – so as to try and understand better the likes and dislikes of Judges qua case presentation and how Judges respond to different methods and ways of arguments. It truly was an education in itself and for all young lawyers or aspiring lawyers reading, the opportunity to do so should not be lost.

I remember one certain instance when I visited the Lahore High Court during my apprenticeship. I was sitting in the courtroom of a Judge who was renowned for his attention to procedural law in civil cases. The matter was a First Appeal against an Order passed in a Civil Suit by the trial Court. Enter the lawyer for the Appellant – a young man, smartly dressed, having the title “Barrister” attached with his name and sporting a somewhat contrived British accent. As he very suavely introduced the case, the Judge stopped him and asked him a procedural question. The lawyer fumbled with his papers and Code of Civil Procedure at the Rostrum. To which the Judge asked as to whether the Counsel had practiced before in the lower Courts. The Counsel replied that he had done his Bar at law and an LLM from England and that he was exempt from the period of lower Court practice. Upon hearing this, the Judge shut the file and told the Counsel to go and practice civil law before the Civil Court and then come back after gaining some experience in procedural intricacies, so that he may be able to properly assist the Appellate Court.

As practicing lawyers, we must be sensitive to the task assigned by the Constitution to the sole arbiter of justice before whom we argue our cases. Given our ever-increasing litigious society, the work of a Judge in the process of adjudication and administering justice seems to be a job that requires discipline, stamina and a capacity to analyze, interpret and apply the applicable law to a particular case. The quality of the Bench will invariably depend on the quality of the Bar and if our own quality is lacking, then we have only ourselves to blame for not playing our part in making the life of a Judge a little less difficult. That is the challenge we lawyers face today.