To be a good lawyer, you need to master history, mathematics and literature, Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa told students at the Pakistan College of Law graduation ceremony in Lahore on Saturday.
He was quoting Lord Denning, a noted English lawyer and judge. He stressed that the students must know these subjects to be good lawyers, not just lawyers. Every law is made in some historical context, he said. We’re passing through a phase where terrorism as a law is a hot topic in courts, he said.
Justice Khosa said that in a few years, once Pakistan has exited this phase, lawyers will wonder what the background for such stringent anti-terrorism laws is. To understand the stringency of the law and provisions of the law, you must know the historical background, he said.
Mathematics, he said, is required because all arguments should be mathematically precise. You may have a beautiful, precise argument, he said, but it may just be in your head. You need language to be able to convey that argument to another mind, Justice Khosa told graduates, which is why we need literature.
But most of all, he said they need hard work. You have to prepare your case well and if you have a sound argument or through your hard work you have found the exact ruling on the point, you don’t have to argue, you have to present the book before the judge and you’ll win, he assured them.
The top judge said articulation is an added advantage. But if your hard work is conveyed, that it will do the trick, he said. “You don’t have to be a good speaker all the time.”
He told the graduates that they do, however, need a well-rounded personality, especially in Pakistan.
“In this country, every social issue, economic issue and political issue ultimately ends up in a court of law,” he said. Unless you have a well-rounded personality and knowledge about different disciplines, it will be difficult for you to understand the scope of the arguments, he cautioned.
Pakistan’s top judge urged the new lawyers to keep informed, through books, magazine and newspapers. He also said that they should know that the most informed and knowledgeable people they will meet when they go to court will be the clerks (munshis). He advised the college to groom students for lawyering while also teaching them law.
Justice Khosa suggested a “house job” for lawyers so they can learn how to combine their academic knowledge with practical knowledge. He also urged them to earn respect through their conduct. He spoke of yesteryear, when lawyers and judges were accorded a great degree of respect. The respect for the profession is still there, he said, adding that young lawyers must now earn their own respect through their conduct.