Hari's Corner

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The Art of being in Two Places at once

Filed under: People and society by Hari
Posted on Wed, Jul 18, 2012 at 21:25 IST (last updated: Wed, Jul 18, 2012 @ 21:26 IST)

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Successful lawyers, especially court practitioners, always face situations where two cases in two different courts might clash on the same date. And the problem is that the lawyer is not always in control of court schedules and it is not possible to predict such clashes any time in advance. Planning is rarely possible, because the courts decide the hearing dates, not the lawyers. Of course, lawyers can and do frequently request a particular date if they know in advance that another date chosen by the court might clash with other cases, but this is not all that common.

It is inevitable that dates of court hearings will clash and there will come a time when he/she has to choose which case is more important or rather, which case has reached a stage where adequate representation is a must. Sometimes, it is possible to get adjournments but on other occasions, the case might have reached a stage where no further adjournment is possible and the only way to proceed with the case is to represent effectively. Of course the other factor is the importance of the client. In some cases, it would be absolutely vital to attend each and every hearing of the case, whether or not the stage is crucial or not. This is where court practitioners face a dilemma. The solution to the problem is not always easy to find.

There are, of course, ways and means to deal with the situation. If you are an important enough advocate/barrister/attorney you would have one or more assisting juniors who could attend to different cases while you focus on the important ones. On the other hand, those who are not big enough or senior enough to be able to call upon the assistance of juniors will have to rely on the goodwill of peers/friends to represent the matter in court for that particular hearing. Of course, such representation will rarely be effective as the representing counsel will not be in any position to deal with the ins and outs of the case, but it is better than no representation at all. Some judges are more difficult than others with respect to representing counsel, but if the case has not reached a particularly critical stage and such requests for adjournments haven't been made before, they will usually grant adjournment. 

Now of course, this kind of thing might not be possible in all countries. Each legal system is different and every country has a different kind of approach in handling cases. In some countries, an entire trial might be conducted in a couple of days by a judge sitting with a jury, while in other countries where a jury system doesn't exist, this kind of trial, where an entire day is set aside for one or two cases, might be rare and frequent short adjournments are more common.

All the same, being a court practitioner requires skill, especially in the art of being in two places at once. Whatever magic is used to conjure that effect, the end result must be that no case goes unrepresented at a vital stage.

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