ADVOCATES: THE BLOG

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  • Arjun Gananathan

Trial Approach, Working in Teams, & Winning

“The bit I like most is winning,” Rajah declares, with no hint of hesitation. Advocacy is enjoyable if it culminates in victory. Otherwise, it can be a memorably sour experience. Rajah’s desire to win is evident in how he, and many other prolific litigators, practice the law. First, delegation and independence are carefully balanced. As a Queen’s Counsel, Rajah often leads teams of junior barristers, and even fellow QCs. While he relies on his team to collectively read and dissect the thousands of documents that complex cases involve, he alone drafts pleadings and conducts all pieces of advocacy. Second, attention to craft is never under-valued. Language and presentation of arguments matter. One can always encapsulate a convoluted case concisely, and little is more expedient than presenting the bench with a yes-or-no question, free of unnecessary nuance and contingencies. Third is a reasonable amount of stubbornness. Rajah recalls one of his milestone cases – Pakistan v. Nat West. His argument rested upon a complicated point of law, a point that the judge did not initially understand. Despite requests from fellow silks to move on, Rajah persisted, eventually getting through to the judge and obtaining an unappealable decision in favor of his client, the 8th Nizam of Hyderabad.


Rajah featured on Chancery Bar Association on Vimeo.


After further reflection, however, Rajah chooses to amend his answer. ‘Winning’ is the wrong word. Rather, his favorite part of practice is “getting a result that solves a problem… and [thereby] making a difference to somebody.” At university, Rajah was motivated by a career in criminal law and human rights, advocating for those who couldn’t afford a voice in the legal arena. Although he later joined the Chancery Bar, this desire to instigate and witness change has perhaps never left.

Indeed, when asked about his most memorable case, Rajah recounted not one from his time as QC, but one from much earlier, in county court. Upon evaluating the situation, Rajah counselled his client to settle. Despondent, his client refused, explaining that settlement was not financially or emotionally viable. Rajah thus agreed to argue his case in court, and despite all odds, secured a favorable result. Dressed in his wig and gown, Rajah remembers being bear-hugged by his client – a big burly man, covered in tears, overcome with emotions of happiness and relief. That memory is special not for the thrill of fighting or winning, but for making a difference to someone who desperately needed it.


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