Legal practice, law, judgment and legal qualities

Not much is needed to become a lawyer: a legal education, two years of practice as an associate and three minor cases in court. A legal education gives the student a method to be able to find what the applicable law is in specific areas in life.  Practically, this means finding and sorting or comparing different arguments such as words of Acts, case-law, preparatory works, legal literature and so-called policy considerations (common sense). Lawyers call this “harmonizing arguments”. 

Some issues do not have a certain answer in law, and assessments are needed. A detailed comparison of arguments to conclude the applicable law in areas where there are no set answers requires both experience and judicial discretion. In order to become a skilled lawyer, judicial discretion is required. Some lawyers have that, while others do not and never will. For non-legal persons it is not always easy to understand whether lawyers have judicial discretion. 

Legal practice aims at assisting the commissioning party in its legal race to be able to quickly and cheaply reach its goal. For lawyers, the law and the lawyer’s judicial discretion are tools to guide their client to its goal. It stands to reason that a lawyer needs to be a skilled lawyer with judicial discretion. 

A number of other qualities are also important; Legal practice is based on facts and for a more successful race to the finish line it is a huge advantage if the lawyer has the ability to penetrate facts. Industry knowledge in the relevant area, e.g. property development, helps the lawyer understand facts. The lawyer having experience, i.e. that they have previously, and preferably often, solved the same or similar tasks provides assurance in cases where the commissioning party has little experience or where there is no set answer.

In many areas of life, the straight line is not always the road leading from start to finish. The road may be complicated and the process is usually time-consuming. In these cases, the lawyer has to guide the client as regards strategy. This requires analytical and planning abilities. Usually one or several other parties – perhaps with different interests – opposite parties, public authorities, media or others may be involved. In that case, the commissioning party may be said to be in a competitive situation whether the case concerns an application, negotiations or a dispute. Legal competition is usually about perseverance and depositing resources correctly and presenting the best arguments at the best time. Court cases with procedures before the courts are probably the purest form of such competitive situations, where the process concerns selecting one winner. Here, all the above-mentioned qualities are required, in addition to a number of other personal qualities, the lawyer needs, when in a situation where the lawyer is to advice the commissioning party to bring the dispute before the courts instead of other alternatives, a pedagogical presentation of law and facts before the court, the ability to make the best out of hostile witnesses of the opposite party and the ability to ward off surprises in court; That’s when the action takes place and the lawyers need to take the opportunity when they can.

The interaction between the lawyer and the commissioning party

The commissioning party as the paying party is the party to set the goal. The commissioning party is also the one to make decisions on, e.g. choices of direction during the process. The client must itself choose the risk profile in order to realize its project, or be given the opportunity of the lawyer concluding or changing the project. 

In addition, the commissioning party must be the lawyer’s main source of information on facts. If given incorrect facts, the premises and the lawyer’s analyses and conclusions will be incorrect. The lawyer must explain to its client whether the goal is realistic or whether the goal should be changed, as well as the degree of uncertainty related to the different stages on the path to the goal.

You often hear that both parties and lawyers express surprise over a lost case. In light of the lawyer’s responsibilities in the interaction with the client, this should very rarely be the case.

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