Acting for individuals is an absolute privilege

Acting for individuals is an absolute privilege

Julia Lynn, Assurety’s Head of Business Management, explains why acting for individuals in litigation is a privilege.

Acting for individuals is an absolute privilege. There’s often not the big money, the kudos, the wow factor or any bragging rights. But there is the chance to make a fundamental and positive difference to a client’s life, albeit under the radar. 

I left practice a long time ago, but my proudest memories are those where I was instrumental in securing a fair and just result, particularly for an individual. My passion was in doing everything possible to get that result, because that is why I joined the profession – to make a difference.

As a Senior Associate, I was privileged to be instructed by a client whose family had fallen out, and the task was to find a solution as swiftly as possible, without putting the parents in the witness box to testify against one of their sons. Unfortunately the son and his lawyers had a different agenda, so battle lines were drawn.

A few weeks before the trial, I took my clients to the RCJ to see the battleground. To feel it. To smell it. To see a cross-examination.

When I walk into the RCJ, I have a sense of grandeur, of excitement.  Not so for my clients. I sensed their fear, I saw them visibly shrink, and their subsequent instruction “settle at any cost” was unsurprising. They had not realised the extent of the task ahead. I knew they were telling the truth, and I thought it was likely they would win the litigation, but if I couldn’t get them into the witness box, that truth would never be told. 

I decided to try witness preparation. I was sceptical, but there was nothing to lose. These clients deserved the best preparation for trial. Win or lose, they needed to be able to give their evidence without fear. They needed to stroll into the witness box, not creep. They needed to look up, not down. They needed to be prepared. And they needed to be heard.

I was so proud of them. More importantly, they were proud of themselves.  They had given themselves the best possible chance of winning.  They thanked me. And I thanked them. They had taught me so much, in particular the need to understand what we as lawyers ask our witnesses to go through without thinking about how enormous that task actually is. And I realised that, in the words of Atticus Finch, “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view”.

Julia Lynn
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Head of Business Management


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