How to Start Out as a Litigating Advocate in India

Posted On - 15 May, 2019 • By - Abhiishek Bhaduri

By way of this write up, I wish to pass on some pointers and
insights into the field of legal practice, hoping to aide junior law students
and freshers’ in their earnest endeavors. The following has been culled out
from experience and would be revised as time goes on, feel free to add your own

For all interns / fresher’s working in the field of

First Things First

· First of all, Welcome to the field of Litigation. This is a
Branch of Law that excites and entices aplenty for a variety of reasons and now
that you are here, start off by doing the following.

· Alright, I am sure, as you are an Intern reading this or
maybe a fresh pass out in law reading this, you may have been a good student,
or you may have been average, regardless, very first thing to do is, FORGET
WHATEVER YOU HAVE READ IN LAW COLLEGE. Yes you read that correct, Your marks,
your knowledge, your studies and your attendance in Law college would do little
to help you in this vast arena of Litigation. As the saying goes, ‘Learning
starts when practise starts’. All the things that you need to know will be
taught and learned now henceforth.

· Use the first few days to get acquainted to your new
surroundings, your new senior, the office, the staff, and the work personnel.
Visit the High Court Building in the city that you have started work at. If the
city doesn’t have a High Court, then visit the Courts in which your office
regular Then the Territorial Jurisdiction for adjudication (deciding) of the
same issue would lay with a Competent Court in New Delhi. [Read S. 20 of The
Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) for more info.] –

Pecuniary Jurisdiction

Hon’ble Courts often impose Pecuniary Limitations on the
Claim Amounts in the matter that can be moved before the said Court for
reliefs. Pecuniary means ‘Monetary’, And / Or relating to Money. Another
synonymous term used for the same in the world of Economics is ‘Fiscal’ For
Example, If your client lives and works in Mumbai, and has a claim amount of
Over Rs. 1, 00, 00, 000/- (Rupees One Crore Only), then your client may move
the Hon’ble High Court at Bombay, Claim amount below Rs. 1,00,00,000/- (Rupees
One Crore Only) would mean that the Case would go before the Hon’ble City Civil
Court at Bombay. Similarly before the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi at New Delhi,
the Pecuniary Jurisdiction is Rs. 2,00,00,000/- (Rupees Two Crores Only) –
Civil, Criminal, Appellate, and Original Jurisdictions Another use for the word
‘Jurisdiction’ is in relation to the type of matter filed and the reliefs

Civil –

It arises from any kind of civil dispute, wherein the Civil
Rights of a person are affected and reliefs sought are mostly Payment of
Rightful dues, Recompensation, Interest Payments, Status Quo (meaning the
Parties will maintain the status as of this date), Status Quo Ante (Meaning the
directed party will reinstate the status to what WAS prior to the institution
of the Case), for Specific Performance (to get the opposing party to DO a
certain act which she/he is refusing to do), for Temporary and Permanent
Injunctions (to get the opposing party to STOP doing a certain act that she/he
is doing at the moment) among other reliefs. Instituted as CIVIL SUITS, the
most common ones are Suits, Summary Suits, Commercial Suits, Suit for Specific
Performance, and Suit for Permanent Injunction.

Criminal –

These are instituted by the State against Crimes (acts
proscribed by the State, affecting public at large) and result in either of
Conviction or Acquittal. Criminal Matters begin with Police, Move to Magistrate
Court, Thereafter Appeals go to Sessions Court, then High Court and Eventually
to the Supreme Court. Appellate – Appellate Jurisdiction refers to all those
matters which have already been decided / Orders have been passed by a
Subordinate Court and the Appeals are then preferred before a Higher Court, or
Appellate Forum in certain cases.

Original –

The refers to the First and foremost Court which is
competent to try the matter. The Hon’ble City Civil Court almost always has
Original Jurisdiction, meaning the said Court can be moved as the first court
of reference. Certain Hon’ble High Courts are Courts of Original Jurisdiction
(Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai), meaning Claims over a certain amount can be
instituted and tried at the Hon’ble High Court before referring to a Lower
Court. Whereas Certain High Courts, like High Court at Allahabad are exclusive
Appellate Jurisdiction Courts, meaning that the Court will entertain no Matter
until the matter has first been decided by a Lower Court.

Now that you have a fair idea what ‘Jurisdiction’ means, find
out the Jurisdictions in which the Court you are present at, works on.

Clerical Works

· Alright, Next you will need to shadow
the Office Peon for a few weeks atleast. You will need to do everything that a
Peon does, (Believe me, its required and much needed). You will need to learn
how to operate the photocopy machines, how to bookstitch documents for Original
and Appellate Sides, how to scan case briefs, how to punch holes on the large
case papers (Quite a skill, I must add), how to take acknowledgment receipts
while serving copies upon the other sides, how much and where to affix the
Courtfee Stamps, how and where to look for the books in the office. How to
maintain the case files, how to tie the case briefs, how to take out the court
orders from the Court websites, and that is Only the tiny part a Peon’s
activities that takes place inside the Law Chambers. You will need to learn to
do everything.

· Next you will need to follow the Office Peon into the Court
and learn to do all that she/he is doing in the Court (legal Work of course),
and the exact locations where she/he is visiting. To define you will need to
look for the filing Counters, the certified copy counters and talk to the
clerks at the place in order to elicit more information about the Court
functioning. You will need to learn where to serve documents (whenever matters
are filed against the state or matters in which the state is a party, Copies of
the Petition are served upon the state) and how many copies need to be served.
Always serve the same with a covering letter, on which you will need to take an
acknowledgment. It will take quite a few round trips to the Court before you
get a proper hang of it but it will come eventually. Most important of all, you
need to know, when is the LUNCH HOUR. Department people take Lunch Hours very
seriously and usually won’t entertain anybody, so you need to know the time
when to approach and when not to.

Academic Reading

· Now coming to actual academic stuff.
You need to go through the HIGH COURT RULES for whichever State you’re working
at. There are Different Original and Appellate Side Rules for High Courts which
have an Original Side. The High Court Rules are your BIBLE if you are working
at the High Court. Similarly, other Courts have their Own Rules, namely, NCLT
Rules, Securities Contract Regulation Rules, City Civil and Sessions Court
Rules, DRT Rules, Consumer Protection Rules, so on and so forth. These need to
be learned. Now books can be voluminous, so take it slow and be consistent.

· Further you need to be thorough with the Procedural Laws,

– Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908)

– Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 ( 1 of 1974)

– Evidence Act, 1872

Do not read the commentaries if not required, At least go
through the Bare Acts. (For those who do not know) The Yellow Universal
Published Books and Orange Coloured Professional Published Books are called
‘Bare Acts’ which contain the basic Text of the Enactment with very little
comments, if any.

· While trying to read Commentaries (the Big Fat books that
form a huge part of any law office), Read at least 30 pages everyday, within a
month, you’ll notice, you have finished a 900 page book. Inside the Court

· INSIDE COURT PREMISES, always carry a red pen, a blue pen, a black pen, (a Green pen as well if you’re working in Mumbai), a pencil, a highlighter, a Marker, Court fee stamps worth Rs. 100 of varying denominations, fevistik, a stapler, post it notes/ flags, few blank legal size papers, visiting cards belonging to your senior, ON YOUR PERSON AT ALL TIMES

· Inside Courtrooms, it’s easy to doze off, especially while waiting for matters to reach (Reach = when the matter is called out for hearing). Afterall at a junior level, listening to Counsels argue about unknown cases talking in a language that resembles Greek can get a bit boring after a while. When feeling sleepy, get up immediately and walk outside the Courtroom for 10 seconds, take in deep breaths, only walk back in when you are fully wide awake. DO NOT LET THE JUDGE OR ANYONE ELSE CATCH YOU SLEEPING.

For the Smartphone User

· For TECH SAVVY People. Keep your
smartphone on vibration at all times of the day. Download the E-courts App
which will help you access Case Status on your phone at any time of the day.
Keep Mobile data On to facilitate easy communication over WhatsApp. Download
and keep the CamScanner App in order to quickly scan any and all documents that
you get your hands on. ALWAYS SCAN / CLICK a picture of any Document as soon as
you get hold of it. Not with the bulky case files, that you will need the
proper scanner to scan. Some High Courts have the Display Board App as well so
get that App as well, which will allow you to know what serial number is
proceeding before which Court.

· Try to curb social media networking at work, it has a
tendency of sucking you in for hours at a stretch thereby rendering you unable
to work. Try to restrict conversations with friends and family while in office.
It doesn’t look good as well, if seniors at office catch you staring at your
phone almost all the time they see you (regardless of whether you are doing
case research or not). But Remember

· Always, Always finish office work at office and try NOT to
take it home. Nights are meant for sleeping not working, keeps the mind fresh
during the day. So try and avoid late nights at all costs. Of course there
would be the odd occasion when you might need to stay at office late for
finishing up urgent work, but ensure to catch up on the missed out sleep the
next night.

General Rules

  • Always arrive at office before your
    senior does.
  • Never refuse to take up any duty, no
    matter how hard or (how minuscule) it might be. There would be no better teacher
    than a difficult task.
  • Sometimes you might find yourself in
    the middle of too much work and you may feel you’re unable to cope up with it, learn
    how to Manage, later on in life, it’ll stand you in good stead when you
    discover that you have matters clashing in different Courts.
  • Be courteous at all times. Greet
    everybody with respect and folded hands. Advocates, especially the senior ones
    have tremendous Egos.
  • Be patient. The more patience you
    exhibit at the beginning of your career, that much further you’ll find yourself
    on the success meter later on.
  • Pecuniary benefits might not be
    commensurate with your efforts in the beginning and it might start to get
    frustrating, but don’t let it drag you down. In a few years’ time, things would
    get better immensely.
  • Keep yourself motivated at all times,
    by watching good movies, TV Shows, listening to good songs or reading good
  • Build a strong team around you, support
    them during times of need, and they will support you when you need them.

Rules for Chamber Related Work

– Prepare an immediate ‘List of Dates
and Events’ as soon as you receive a Case Brief

– Read the ‘Prayer Clause’ first thing
when you receive a file, you will know what is being claimed

– Be meticulous with the case
preparations, remember the facts and dates of the case you are working on, it
would become easier by repetition and writing

– When Appearing in a matter, always
prepare personal notes on what happening before the Court on that particular

– Give precedence to reading books over
Indian kanoon, or a General Search on Google.

– Make yourself indispensable to your

– While drafting documents on a
pc/laptop, always remember to mail it to yourself upon finishing with it, that
way, you’ll have a record and also a format reference during Times of need.

– While preparing any draft which you
intend to get proof read by your senior, ALWAYS KEEP IT DOUBLE SPACED. This
will help the senior immensely in making corrections and writing in between the
lines. Your senior will love you for this.


The True skill of an Advocate is to summarize the contents of 1 (one) page into 1 (one) Paragraph, and to condense the summary of 1 (one) Paragraph into 1 (One) Line.’

Mr. Aspi Chinoy, Senior Advocate, High Court at Bombay

Lastly, Don’t forget to Breathe.

Contributed by – Abhiishek Bhaduri – Associate

King Stubb & Kasiva,
Advocates & Attorneys

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