What is the role of a lawyer?
The lawyer acts on behalf of his clients in all issues where legal representation is necessary.
Many of us get our impressions of the legal profession from Hollywood. From A Few Good Men to Legally Blond, the movies portray the eloquent litigator in court, who stands before a judge defending the freedom of another individual. My personal favourite is My Cousin Vinny – a story that emphasises that the devil is in the details.
It is true that in some cases that a lawyer is a litigator. But many others have a wide variety of job responsibilities and duties, such as representing and advising clients in business deals, buying and selling property, and forming companies. Even if they are not acting as an advocate or barrister, generally lawyers act on behalf of another and voice the opinion of the client to advance the latter’s best interest.
The litigation lawyer represents clients in court, mediations, business transactions and other important proceedings or arrangements, where the law is an essential component. But before such occasions, he meets up with clients to prepare for the encounters. He also has consultations after legal proceedings to ensure that the client fully understands all aspects of the case.
The lawyer who advocates his client’s case in court certainly needs to persuade the judge to his point of view. Nonetheless, his role is not simply to appear in court and argue passionately. He must accomplish a humongous amount of background work to adequately prepare a case or pursue a legal matter. He needs to draft many legal documents, such as letters, arguments for submissions, and documents stating his client’s case (either claiming or defending) called pleadings. Before the advent of electronic assistance in court proceedings, lawyers have been spotted on the way to and from court with muleful baskets of documentary materials.
A trial can be costly, time-consuming and a drain on emotions. In many cases the best way to settle a dispute would be to avoid court proceedings altogether. This means both parties must negotiate. The lawyer would need to spend a great deal of time talking on the phone, sending email and mail correspondence and faxing pertinent documents to and from involved parties. Paralegals and legal secretaries can help with such tasks but the lawyer needs to review all documents before they leave the office. After all, he, not his staff, would be responsible for any mistake.
Of course the lawyer cannot simply appear in court or negotiate without doing the necessary background work. This means he must do legal research, which may include looking up statutes, procedural rules, evidence, pertinent documentation, and reading the case precedents, some of which may come up to hundred of pages each.
In view of the foregoing demands of the legal profession, a person must have the necessary training and education before becoming a lawyer. TMC Academy provides Preparatory Courses for the Bachelor of Laws and Diploma in Law under the University of London International Programmes.
Jasmani Bin Jalil
School of Business and Law