I should admit that I was not taught much about the difficulties in legal profession and as to how to flourish in legal profession if one chooses to be an independent practitioner or wants to establish his own law firm while I was in Law College. Much emphasis was laid on the subject, examinations and the case law. Though I had the privilege of participating in moot courts and debates in our college, I know that many law colleges in India do not give much importance to debates and moot courts which are so important. Even after entering into profession and spending considerable time, no senior has given me a clear picture about the legal profession. I had to see the difficulties and I had to find the solution and this is the pathetic situation in legal education in India and also in legal profession. We don’t see so much academic activity in many law colleges and also in legal profession. Academic activity does not mean availability of so many books, articles and journals in my opinion. Many even may not be able to understand as to what has been written in books, articles and journals.
We need so many reforms in legal education in India and also in the whole legal system. Our Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has given a great speech in the recent past telling the truth about legal education and also legal profession. The Bar Associations give so much importance to Senior and privileged advocates and these privileged legal practitioners and Senior Advocates should discharge their basic responsibility with the sole intention of guiding the young generation lawyers and towards bringing the needed reforms in the system. Nobody wants Senior Advocates in legal profession to devote their whole time on tutoring the young lawyers, but, they can certainly spend few hours in a month and can take part in academic activity. But, unfortunately, academics have taken a back seat in legal profession and it is certainly not good for the legal profession and also society. Even when I was a student of law, I used to attend many seminars conducted by the Bar Associations and the trend is going backward now and academic activity conducted by the Bar Associations is really dismal now as I feel. The situation in developed countries is really good when it comes to concentrating on imparting quality education, research and development.
I have had a personal experience and also I have seen many of my colleagues lacking the guidance in profession and as such they waste their valuable time and loose hope. I have seen many of such instances. It is to be promoted by the Senior Advocates in legal profession that hardworking never fails at the Bar and by nature, an young lawyer should recognize the fact that it will definitely take few years to develop his/her own practice and to get recognized. There can be exceptions always. I have seen some young lawyers doing extremely well though they were not educated in prestigious schools and though they are not from rich background. I have seen many talented young lawyers leaving profession and joining law firms and companies. When these talented young lawyers leave profession, then, it really hurts me as it will have a direct impact on the standards in legal profession and the quality of justice. It is true that prestigious law schools or national schools are doing well in India, but, we should recognize the fact that the legal profession consists vast majority of lawyers who graduated from government and ordinary colleges in India. While some choose to join Law College having a negative opinion about the profession, they are many who join law thinking that they can be a big and noted lawyer like Sri Ramjathmalani, Sri Arun Jailtly and Kapil Cibal. These truly interested students and professionals needs encouragement and guidance in legal profession which is loosing its dignity.
As standards in legal profession have gone down drastically and as the students of national law schools prefer to join noted lawyers, law firms and corporate houses, there is a considerable demand for talented law students when they join the Chambers of some advocates initially. Young lawyers need to be encouraged and in India this encouragement is really lacking. Only few senior advocates follow the needed ethics and I have a great respect for Aravind P.Datar, Senior Advocate, Dr.Manish Arora of Universal Publishing Company (Pvt) Ltd, Delhi and Advocate of Supreme Court, for inspiring the law students and contributing substantially for the betterment of legal profession in India.
We have certain illogical assumptions in India and I have read a paper statement recently wherein a Bench of Supreme Court has commented while a young lawyer represented a case without preparation that “everybody wants to become Nani Palkiwala instantly”. I have also read the paper statement that the Hon’ble Judge has also went on explaining his experience and stressing the importance of practicing in Trial Courts for few years. There is an assumption in legal profession that one has to wait for so many years to flourish in legal profession and I disagree with that illogical notion. I have seen few young lawyers arguing matters before the First Bench of Madras High Court doing extremely well and even better than many Senior Advocates and its my opinion. If this illogical assumption is settled, then, the profession looses talented people and it’s an irreparable damage to the legal profession, legal system and also to the society finally. It is true that experience matters, but, this experience will not come by spending so many years in legal profession. Experience comes as to how a legal practitioner works hard and experiences the things not seen. This has no relevance to the time one spends in legal profession. In my experience in legal profession, I have never discouraged a legal professional and guided few to a great extent to come-up in profession.
I would like to share my experience with few of my colleagues and especially law students as to what all the things a law student should remember while entering into profession. My guidance note to the younger generation lawyers and students is based on certain assumptions and as such the ‘guidance note’ is followed by ‘assumptions’.
Things to be known by a new entrant of legal profession:
1. He/she should understand the fact that he has to spend lot of time in office and courts and the section of the court while he works under some professional initially.
2. He/she should know that he may be asked to go and appear before many courts where the procedure and the practice may entirely differ.
3. He/she should understand that his senior may not be able to solve all his doubts instantly.
4. He/she should know that he should be patient to know the things and he will learn the things in the course.
5. He/she should not believe the baseless assumption that he has to wait for many years to learn the things.
6. He/she must believe that knowledgeable is recognized in legal profession though there can be certain setbacks and though the recognition may not be appropriate.
7. He/she should know the importance of English language and one should master in legal drafting and presentation skills.
8. He/she should believe that they may not be able to know all the rules and the regulations and it is enough if one knows the law in the chosen field and basic principles of law.
9. He/she should know that they should know the basics about computers and it will definitely be an added advantage if one is good in typing and it is really very important in profession.
10. He/she should understand that they may feel scared to represent a matter before Court initially, but, with practice and repetitive representations everything will be alright.
11. He/she should believe in ability and should focus on the needed ability to start his/her own independent practice.
12. He/she should have a curiosity to know all the things and practice in legal profession and he/she should be able experience the needed things in legal profession very soon as otherwise, he may be forced to think about alternatives.
13. He/she should have courage to represent the matter forcefully and without bothering about the remarks by the Senior Advocates and the Judicial Officers at times. Courage is very important quality to become a successful legal professional.
14. He/she should have hope and believe that nothing is impossible and he may soon be able to appear against Senior Advocates and even in Supreme Court of India. It is very much possible with hard-work and needed ability.
15. He/she should know that the style of representation before a court depends upon style and attitude of the judicial officer and as such one should study the mindset of the judicial officer before representing a case and it is part of advocacy.
16. He/she should know that communication and maintaining relations with public, friends and professionals is very important to start an independent practice.
17. He/she should know the fact that one can not be a successful practitioner overnight and it will take time.
18. He/she should know that every client will look at experience and the track record. As such, initial days would be difficult for a young and independent practitioner and everyone has to cross that stage.
19. He/she should master as to how the clients are to be handled and should make the clients to believe him.
20. He/she should not be discouraged by the clients with never ending litigant mind and the clients who try to trouble the young lawyers taking advantage of lack of standing in profession.
21. He/she may have to face some difficulties initially when they start their own practice, but, one can flourish in profession if he never loses hope and understands the fact that one needs wait some time or few years to flourish in profession.
I think that the law students are taught about many negative things in legal profession than positive things. There is so much joy in legal profession and can be part of privileged society soon. Law colleges should train the students well about the legal profession, realities, difficulties, privileges and also required qualities.
Note: the views expressed are my personal and I know that the subject chosen is inclusive in nature.
V.DURGA RAO, Advocate, Madras High Court.