Seventy-three years and 60 days of practice as a lawyer is a Guinness World Record. Palakkad’s veteran civil lawyer P.B. Menon has brought that world record to India by knocking out Gibraltar government lawyer Louis Triay’s Guinness record of 70 years and 311 days. Louis died in February this year at 94.
Mr. Menon is 97 and still attends the courts with the vivacious zest of a beginner. “He is a phenomenon, a legal institution from which today’s practitioners have many lessons to learn,” said Deputy Director of Prosecution P. Premnath.
The world’s longest serving lawyer had entered the India Book of Records a few months ago. At 97, his memory remains intact. Rather he loves falling back on nostalgic moments of the beginning days of his career in early 1950s.
He studied the law from Madras Law College (currently known as Dr. Ambedkar Government Law College, Chennai) after graduating from Government Victoria College, Palakkad, in 1947. He shifted his practice to Palakkad after spending two years at Madras High Court.
It was a veteran judge at a sub-court in Kochi who advised Mr. Menon to focus on civil law when he won a criminal case as a junior lawyer. “That was a turning point in my career and life. I begin my days by remembering that senior judge,” said Mr. Menon, sharing his early experiences.
Rose Land, Mr. Menon’s house at Puthur in Palakkad town, remains open to everyone irrespective of lawyer or client. He is approachable and affable to lawyers of all age. He is a textbook for the beginners.
For Mr. Menon, there is no such case as minor or insignificant. “He approaches all cases with utmost seriousness. Ensuring justice for his client is his motto,” said his daughter Subhadra Muraleedharan.
During a chat with the media here on Tuesday, Mr. Menon insisted that there would be no point in arguing too much in courts. “My plaint, cross-examination and arguments are always short. When you prepare a case, you should bear in mind what the respondent would say tomorrow.”
For Mr. Menon, there is nothing more self-gratifying than listening to the following words from a client: “You are a dependable lawyer. You give us honest opinion”.
Perhaps it was this self-gratification that made Mr. Menon stick to his practice as a civil lawyer even when many of his friends and colleagues chose to become judges.