When I passed my LLB course, the first senior I went to work under was a criminal lawyer. Litigation… something that always fascinated me and something I wanted to learn more about.
I am lucky enough to get such a senior who not only taught me the practical stuff but also dispersed nuggets of wisdom every now and then.
Today’s article is derived from a conversation that I had with my senior on one uneventful day and something I cherish till date.
My senior told me that litigation lawyers can be like either an army general or a revolutionary. It’s all in how the litigation lawyer thinks and approaches a case in the court.
Perhaps, we should start with a little tidbit on army generals and revolutionaries and their methodology of operation first.
How do army generals think?
When Japan launched a surprise attack on the USA in December 1941 by sinking the US Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbour, what do you think the army generals were thinking?
They were eliminating the possibility of the American fleet landing in the Philippines or Hong Kong in 1942. That’s how army generals think. Destroy the strongest military weapons of your opponent so as to give your opponent no chance to retaliate, and inflict devastating and long-lasting damage.
For that, you need to be strong enough to attack and destroy your opponent’s resources and also have the necessary information on the what, when, where and how to achieve the goal.
The same theory is applied in the chess game as well. Every piece move that you make mounts an offence on your opponent’s king and also strengthens your position nonetheless. The rule of the maximum benefit focuses on how many individual goals can be achieved from a single move.
How do revolutionaries think?
Think about it. Revolutionaries are inherently weak! They don’t have the same resources as a developed nation like the United States or China. They can’t talk freely. They can’t act freely. They are always at risk of being discovered and put in jail. They are not in a conducive position to gather resources, and even if they do, it can be recaptured and confiscated at any moment!
Not a tough job if a nation’s army and the entire force of the state is coming for it.
Okay, so how do revolutionaries attack and why are they often successful? To understand it, we have to understand the motive behind a revolutionary attack.
Revolutionaries know that they do not have the firepower or even more importantly, the political power to gain control over a territory if they want. For that, they would have to attack and defeat the state. Easier said than done.
We saw that first hand when the noted revolutionary freedom fighters, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev went against the contemporary Indian government before independence and were ultimately sentenced to death and ordered to be hanged on 24 March 1931.
Moral of the story: you cannot take on a state unless you are a state yourself.
And even if some succeed in doing so, it might spur other nations to join hands and act to eradicate the threat so that it cannot spread further.
Imagine all the nations in the world, with their military power, on one side and a small band of revolutionaries on the other. Nope, not possible.
So, revolutionaries take a different approach altogether. They provoke their opponent to react and make mistakes. The more terrifying, sensational and spectacular the attack, the higher the chance of the attacked party making a mistake by a show of increased security, unleashing mass persecutions or taking a politically wrong step.
A minor slip and it might lead to a bigger opening for the revolutionaries to attack further.
How a Law student used Criminal Litigation course to get the basic knowledge of Criminal Law
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How does this relate to you as a litigation lawyer?
My senior said, “Suman, if you are stronger than your opponent, attack him. If you are weaker than your opponent, provoke your opponent to attack and try to get him to make some mistakes.”
What he meant to say was that if one knows he has a stronger case than the opponent, he can go on the offensive. This is very true when you have got a load of evidence at hand supporting your case, and your opponent does not a justifiable retort ex facie, you can lead the attack right away.
However, what if you are unsure as to what evidence your opponent might have access to? Or, if you are unsure about whether further issues will develop during the hearing of the case, or your client has apparently wronged the other party and there is no recourse to it, you have to dig further for little flaws to come up in your opponent’s case. You might even instigate him to commit a mistake and then capitalize on it.
In the former instance, you would probably rely more on facts and statements whereas in the latter, you will probably rely more on creating a spectacle, to get a bigger impact out of something as small as the signature on the legal document is different from what it should be.
From the context of this article, you can either think like an army general where you destroy your opponent’s biggest defences and enjoy your client’s victory right away. Or you can think like a revolutionary and take an indirect approach, provoke the opposite party to commit a mistake and then capitalize on it.
Which one to go for?
It depends on the merits of the case, any experienced litigation lawyer would say.
Want to learn more about litigation?
First, you have to decide which area you would want to specialize in.
Some are naturally suited to criminal litigation while some would perform better in civil or corporate matters. It’s not about whether there is a lot of work in civil litigation niche or that your father is a practising criminal lawyer.
It’s more about your natural inclination and which niche is suited to your personality. This choice makes all the difference.
Also, you need to take into account the massive opportunity in tribunal and regulatory litigation as well.
If you have already made your decision, then perhaps the next stage is to become better at it. Gain practical insight on real-life issues, develop a deep understanding of the law, and become a legal drafting expert…
How? I have the answer to your question.
Interested in criminal litigation? Click here to read on.
Interested in civil litigation? Click here to read on.
If you are confused as to which niche to choose as a litigation lawyer, give us a call on 011 4084 5203 and have a free consultation with our career counselling experts.
Or, you can reply to this email with your phone number and a message, “I am interested in litigation.” We will reach out to you.
Litigation is a highly dynamic profession. Trust me, only the ones who are ready for it can flourish in it.
Otherwise, you will spend years under a senior and end up without any significant progress in your career.
Not something you want, of course.
To your success.
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