Before joining the noble profession of law, I was fortunate to have done my undergraduate degree in Economics from LUMS. Countless all nighters, endless assignments, multiple quizzes and conceptually tasking lectures by esteemed professors. Once the decision to do law had been made and once I had decided to become a practicing legal practitioner in Pakistan, my Ustaad informed me that I would be working during my three years of LLB, as opposed to going to College. He further informed me that during those three years, I would begin my training by combining studying, understanding legal concepts, legal drafting, legal research, assisting seniors in cases and observing all that it takes to become an ‘advocate’. It was indeed a lot to digest at first. As I had decided to do a local LLB degree from the Punjab University, I managed to enrol at a local law college which did not require compulsory attendance and my first day on the job at the office involved a feeble attempt to read “Jurisprudence” by Salmond. I was the new guy at the office – I began to pick up case files and then went on to start reading ‘Privy Council’ judgments of the 1920s, as advised by my Ustaad. Then came the next task – getting myself a black suit, a white collared shirt and a black tie. The transformation had officially begun and it dawned upon me – there was going to be a “new” me, only question was: what kind of lawyer would I be?

During my three years of ‘apprenticeship’, I did manage to attend a few lectures at my college just before the annual LLB examinations. Although they were informative, I understood the logic of my Ustaad in telling me that going to college would not be very productive in the long run. Upon a bare reading of the study guides for each subject and the solved past papers for various questions, I understood the format – double margins, marker headings, extra sheets and rote memorizing and I questioned my decision to do a local LLB. However, having been fortunate to be given a chance to study and work during my three years was of great help when it came to the last year of examinations. There was a paper in part III of the examinations called “Pleadings and Conveyancing and Interpretation of Statutes”, in which five questions involved legal drafting, three in English and two in Urdu. As my written Urdu was weak, owing to my work experience, I completed my three English drafting questions in thirty minutes and spent a good hour and a half on the Urdu questions.

The results arrived – I had passed. After years of going to court with my Ustaad and the other Associates in office, watching them argue and helping them prepare for battle in the Supreme Court, the High Courts and the lower Courts, I was excited at the prospect of getting my license to practice in the lower Courts, which was for a two year period before I could be enrolled as an Advocate of the High Court. I paid a visit to the Punjab Bar Council, gave them my intimation form for a formal period of 6 months training after passing my exams and then had to sit for a multiple choice law examination with my other colleagues who had passed their LLB. Then came the interview with the enrolment committee of the Bar Council. I nervously prepared for all sorts of questions that they might ask of me. I entered the room and there were three senior lawyers sitting across from me. One of them asked me a question relating to the general jurisdiction of civil Courts. And then the other lawyer asked me how my Ustaad was. And that was that. I was told to leave. A week later, I obtained my license to practice in the subordinate Courts. Something seemed amiss – but then as I learnt over time, that’s just the way things are at present.

10 years have passed since. Once I completed my two years before the lower Courts, I was fortunate to be enrolled as an Advocate of the High Court – another year to go and I may be eligible to apply for enrolment as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. I have attempted to learn my law through spending as much time “re-thinking” my work with my Ustaad, being able to observe my seniors and fellow colleagues practice their craft in reality and to read and absorb as much as one possibly can by digesting judicial precedents and statute books with their detailed commentaries. For the future, one sincerely hopes that our Bar Councils, premier educational institutions and all concerned stakeholders of the legal community attempt to bring in reforms to make necessary adjustments in the legal education syllabi, the process of entry into the legal vocation and for improving the professional standards that make the practice of law a truly ‘learned’ profession.

 The writer is a legal practitioner with hopes for a better future for his profession in the land of the pure.