12 Tips on How to Succeed in Litigation as a Career: A Snippet from Tanuj Kalia’s Book on Law as a Career (LexisNexis)
Tanuj Kalia’s (Founding CEO of Lawctopus) book titled ‘Law as a Career’ is out in the market! Published by LexisNexis the book is a complete guide for law aspirants and law students keen on pursuing a career in law.
Below is a section from the chapter on ‘Litigation as a Career Option’. The content has been edited slightly to be suitable as a stand-alone piece.
Here are a few points (twelve to be precise) law students and young lawyers keen on pursuing litigation as a career option should keep in mind.
- It is a myth that being eloquent and well-spoken are important qualities of a good litigator. While those can be useful secondary traits, the most important quality to becoming a successful litigator is being diligent about your files. For a litigator, a meticulous reading of the files is a must. You should know what exactly is there on what page.
- Train long enough under a senior. Build a ‘close association’ with him/her. The desire to be independent should be delayed to get ‘quality training’.
- Listen to the seniors arguing in courts. Understand how they go about their arguments.
- Point number 3 will add great value and experience and this will come handy when you have to ‘think on your feet’. Thinking on your feet doesn’t come with the swish of a wand. It comes from listening to the legends for long hours.
- While arguing, develop a neat structure for your points. Know what your ‘best points’ are.
- This will take time to develop, but get a 360 degree view on things. Cases are not won and lost just on the laws, facts, logic and arguments. Knowing how the judge is reacting that day, for example, can be critical. One needs to develop such a holistic awareness on the go to be a successful lawyer.
- Never put on airs, before a judge or otherwise, but state your case simply and with conviction.
Advice on Billing and Logistics
- ‘Bill’ on the side of caution. When you are starting out, work is more important than money.
- On issues like ‘billing’, take the advice of your seniors. There is a reason why lawyers charge for some of the things they do and not charge for others. There’s no need for you to reinvent this wheel.
- Maintaining a record of the files is best done early (and must be done early) and as per a system (not on an ad hoc basis). Similarly, one needs to keep a record of the invoices, pending payments, etc.
All this is best learned in the chambers of a senior.
Advice on Work, Life and Professional Relationships
- Learn the art of switching on and switching off. Work should not engulf your life.
- Your law clerk, your photocopier and other support staff keep your practice running. Developing relationships that go beyond the call of duty can save you during times when work needs some urgent intervention on their part.
Rebecca John, Protik Prokash Banerjee (via email), Shwetasree Majumder, Shri Singh and Adit Pujari were interviewed for this chapter.