Article by listed attorney: Fawzia Khan
For me being an attorney is about helping people by finding workable solutions to their problem. I do this by trying to understand what my clients needs, goals and expectations are, and then see how best I can help them achieve those goals within the confines of what the law will allow.
Being tenacious whilst representing our clients has certainly earned our law firm respect amongst our peers. However I always make an effort to advise my client of the various alternative dispute resolution mechanisms available to him or her. Together with the client I look at what mechanism would be more suited to getting the desired outcome for the client. These would also include attempting round table negotiations as well as mediation. By offering the various possible solutions, strategies and workable outcomes to the client affords the client the ability to make an informed choice.
I honestly believe I’ve found my calling in life as I derive great satisfaction in being able to assist people during their time of need. I find being able to offer workable, sustainable solutions to a client to be both fulfilling and rewarding.
I consider it a privilege that my clients have entrusted me to represent them, often during the most emotionally difficult period in their lives. For example in the case of a person who is going through a divorce or someone who has lost a loved one through tragic circumstances.
I also believe it’s vital not to become complacent in the workplace. I recall reading somewhere that “ the arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”
What’s great for me is that after 24 years of being in legal practice, I still find myself learning something new every day. I make an effort to gain knowledge as much as possible, be it in a formal or informal way. In that regard I’d like to believe that I’m following the teachings of Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him), which was to acquire knowledge for the entire duration of your life until the day you die.
I’m also mindful of the costs of litigation, both financially and emotionally and the fact that not every person will have the appetite to run a full-blown trial to its final conclusion.
I’ve found that from a litigation perspective, having to deal with insulting, argumentative or sometimes downright rude and belligerent behaviour comes with the territory. Very rarely do I take litigation affronts personally. Indeed part of the life of a litigation practitioner is to engage with one’s opponents in a robust manner. Having said I’m always mindful that no matter how robust our dealings may be with our opposition, the aim always must be what is in the clients best interests and not to allow any sparring to become a personal ego issue between colleagues.
Much of our practice involves civil litigation. A large percentage of that litigation focuses on family law. But not all the work we do is family law related. Not all of the work we do is litigation based either. At the office we do a fair amount of non-litigious work as well, from drafting commercial contracts, notarising documents, executing ante-nuptial contracts, conveyancing and transfer of immovable property and winding up deceased estates. One of the best aspects of my job is that no two days are ever the same. It’s not unusual for me to be congratulating a young couple who are about to get married and for whom I’ve drawn up an ante-nuptial contract, who are so clearly in love and happy, and then to go into the next consultation with a person who is in an emotionally fragile state following the breakdown of his or her marriage.
Some days are spent at court, whilst others are spent at the office. This means consulting with clients, working on files, drawing pleadings, researching aspects of a particular case and so on. Even though the day is over, it doesn’t necessarily mean my workload is done. I’m often sitting at my computer late into the night to churn out the next day’s work. It’s not uncommon for me to send an agreement to my client by email at around midnight and by 6h30 the next morning the client and I are in contact with each other finalizing the contents of the document. This, I believe is what gives us the edge over our competitors.
Whilst it’s true that the bigger law firms have bigger budgets and resources than the smaller law firms, ultimately I believe that as ours is service orientated profession, at the end of the day it’s that particular attorney’s efforts and hard work (or lack thereof) which will yield the results for the client and not simply the name of the law firm.
The aim at our firm is to deliver a product which can be held up to the scrutiny of the courts. That is the litmus test, at the end of the day. That means doing sufficient research on the matter whilst also having the technical skills and tools to handle the case.
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