“A lawyer must become a problem solver, a conflict manager. Litigation is only a subset of legal skills.” Judge L Nageswara Rao said on Saturday as he reflected on the opportunities and challenges lawyers may face in the post-modern era.
Justice Rao was speaking at a ‘Post Modern Lawyering – Opportunities and Challenges’ conference organized by Kerala Law Academy and CG3 to mark the first memorial of Dr N Narayanan Nair.
The Supreme Court justice began his speech by differentiating between a lawyer and a lawyer. While a solicitor has a law degree, a solicitor is a person registered under the Solicitors Act and has a license to appear in court, he pointed out. But generally lawyers are often associated with lawyers and these words are used interchangeably.
However, Judge Rao promoted the idea that the profession of lawyer might have more importance in the post-modern era.
The judge then recalled and determined the evolution of the legal profession over the past 40 years. He recalled how when he entered the profession, lawyers of his current age were mostly people who reached the field because they could not enter any other profession. Judge Rao also clarified that this was the norm at the time and that there could be exceptions.
“Lawyers my age when I joined the profession were people who got into the profession because they couldn’t get into another profession. That was the norm. Maybe they were people who were serious about legal education, but that was unusual at the time.”
The judge also recalled how, at that time, a lawyer enjoyed the greatest respect from his clients. The motion, submissions and strategy were decided by the attorney and the client had no say in these processes.
“The client didn’t have a say; he blindly followed everything the lawyer said. And my practical experience is that most lawyers have often experimented with their clients because of their lack of learning. “
However, over time, a lot has changed in the relationship between lawyers and clients. Clients have now become active participants in their disputes and involve themselves in the decision-making process alongside the lawyer, he observed. Judge Rao also noted that this has led to apparent changes in the strategies adopted by lawyers practicing in civil and criminal cases over the years, which he says is a positive development.
“It’s as if the client gets involved in the resolution of his own dispute, thus leaving him more satisfied with the result.”
Judge Rao then pointed out that a lawyer must always know that his life is a life of learning. There is no place for a half-baked lawyer in the legal profession if he is true to his conscience, he said.
The conference then correlated the legal profession itself as a pathway to public service. The judge pointed out that the legal profession is not a lawyer’s livelihood and that his duty was to uphold the law, and that is why they are portrayed as the foot soldiers of the Constitution. He added that to gain the confidence of the litigant public in the institution, they must be assured of a prompt and cost-effective resolution of their disputes and an impartial administration of justice.
In this context, Judge Rao turned to the concept of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to launch his proposal that, in the era of post-modern law, aspirants to the legal profession may need to diversify and find other means of practicing their profession outside of traditional law. dispute.
“Speaking of the post-modern lawyer, I foresee a situation where an increasing number of lawyers would have to find various methods of lawyering not only for public service but also for their survival.”
One such method, he pointed out, that has been advocated is the Dispute Resolution Scheme. Judge Rao reminded the legal community that a person who litigates in court is performing only one of the duties of a lawyer. A lawyer and lawyer should not be limited to finding solutions by pleading in court, he said.
Judge Rao gave examples of how things get worse when they come to court in litigation, especially in service and matrimonial cases, while urging lawyers to start analyzing the litigation before decide to take it immediately to court. He believed that litigation often unnecessarily alienates parties by complicating the dispute and raising irrelevant issues between them. Lawyers and barristers must undergo change for the foreseeable future, he said.
“Lawyers would only survive when they moved away from litigation and the courts and became problem solvers.”
The Supreme Court judge also recalled an article in which they predicted that there might come a time when a courtroom might no longer exist and everything would be done online. Therefore, he encouraged young people looking to the future to change with the times.
Technology is essential; digital literacy cannot be avoided, he stressed.
The judge then spoke of another aspect that plays a crucial role in post-modern law; legal training. Since future lawyers are educated in law schools, he felt change should start here. Legal instruction must take into account that local and national borders no longer significantly influence how a case should be judged, he said.
“As a result, law students should be trained to approach legal issues not just from a local perspective. Law schools should provide training as part of a core curriculum, but to train people able to successfully deliver legal services, they should go beyond basic legal training Law schools should encourage experimentation and diversity Law schools should recognize that learning about substantive non-legal issues is just as important. We will be able to best help a customer if he has a better idea of the subject.
While commenting on specialization, Justice Rao noted that lawyers coming from Kerala to Delhi have branched out into specialized areas of law and are doing extremely well in their chosen areas. Therefore, he concluded that the only way for a postmodern lawyer to survive is to be innovative and find out what the future of law is.
He motivated post-modern lawyers to look to the future and not get stuck in what 1960s lawyers were doing. Times have changed. People need to change their mindsets and follow new techniques of avocado, he concluded.