Legal profession is a wonderful profession if young lawyers know as to how to succeed in profession. I have recently heard an interview of Shri Gopal Subramaniyam where he was emphasizing on various law colleges in the country apart from ‘National Law Schools’. He was clearing the doubts about the ‘Qualifying Examination’. On another occasion, I have heard him referring to the responsibilities of ‘Senior Advocates’ in profession and as to how the Senior Advocates should provide an opportunity to the young professionals who has no privileged background. Many Senior Advocates and advocates refer to the students of ‘National Law Schools’ and they praise their abilities and brilliance. It is all fine, but, what about the students of Government Law Colleges. I believe that many Senior Advocates prefer giving opportunity to the students from ‘National Law Schools’. It is not that the students of ‘National Law Schools’ should not be recognized by the Senior Advocates or the Big Law Firms and should not be given opportunities. The reality is that for an young lawyer with no references, no privileged background and with no degree from reputed ‘Law Schools’, it is very difficult for them to get an opportunity to work with top lawyers or reputed Senior Advocates. I don’t believe that a young lawyer will learn so much if he works with ‘Senior Advocates’. But, the fact of the matter is that one can get lot of exposure and opportunity in profession if he works with a ‘Senior Advocate’. Many top lawyers today did get benefited by their seniors in many ways. I have observed some successful lawyers who were benefited through their Senior Advocates immensely and without that support, they are nothing.
A strong judiciary and strong legal system is a must for any democracy. Unfortunately, despite the growing demands with private sector growth and all-round development, legal system in this country and also the legal profession is not well. While the students of ‘National Law Schools’ lack the patience to tolerate the difficulties in profession and embracing the opportunities from Corporate World, the committed young lawyers, in most of the cases, fails to understand the legal system and about profession. They lack proper understanding and planning about profession. As a result, young lawyers with no privileged background leave profession after working some time, or they will continue in profession, but, with no interest and as result, they will end up as a big failure in profession and also in life.
Earlier, Bar Councils and Bar Associates used to conduct many seminars etc., but, there is no activity now-a-day as I think. Senior Advocates used to show lot of interest in motivating young lawyers, but, there is substantial reduction in this kind of activity now-a-days. They will speak about the state of affairs in the legal profession only in interviews and many will say many things, but, they do not practice. So many steps are required now to correct our legal profession. Bar Councils and Associations are very busy with their elections and related issues. No senior or reputed advocate is getting elected as President of Bar Council or as a President of an Advocates Association. Many Senior or reputed Advocates may not be interested to take the responsibility or even if they contest in elections held to various positions in Bar Councils, they will end-up loosing many times. Very very unfortunate. Bar Councils are supposed discharge their sacred responsibilities, but, anyone visiting these offices can easily find as to what they are doing and as to why there is so much competition to become the Presidents of these associations. Elections are held to these posts as if those are general elections.
There are many youngsters in this country who looks at the reputation of Shri Arun Jaitly, Shri Kapil Sibal etc. famous Lawyers and they will take a decision to pursue law thinking that they too can become famous lawyers’ one-day. Many will realize the realities of profession once they enter. Due to the reduction of standards among law faculty in Government Colleges and other colleges for various reasons, a student may not be getting the proper guidance while he pursues his degree. There can be a faculty discouraging students about the profession always as lawyers who failed in profession are employed as faculty in Private Law Colleges very often. Law Colleges may not be interested in meeting and convincing the experienced and Senior Lawyers to teach their students even for an hour in a week. Many Senior Lawyers may also lack the interest to teach and they may be saying they are very busy in profession.
While it is true that many are getting enrolled into Law Colleges just to get a Law Degree, there can be few youngsters joining law hoping that they can contribute to the society in a big way and thinking that they too can become famous lawyers in this Country. When these youngsters fail in profession, then, that’s huge loss to the profession and also to the society. Any youngster pursuing law and intending to succeed in profession, should have complete understanding of profession and should have proper planning, as otherwise, it is vey difficult to succeed in profession by adhering to professional ethics.
I would like to say few things to the young law students and young lawyers aspiring to succeed in profession as follows:
1. A law student should never bother at the reputation of the law college, the standards and facilities available at the college. Instead, a law student should focus as to how he can better use the opportunities available while he pursues his studies. Interest is the key.
2. A law student should attend classes regularly though the percentage of students present would be very less in most of the law colleges.
3. While students pursue law, he or she should focus on the subject, using library effectively, the art of doing research and should participate in the programmes like Seminars and Moot Courts.
4. A student should not focus solely on getting a degree and rather he will be very easily getting degree if he tries to learn the subject as much as he or she can. With our system, a poor student will be getting 70% marks and a good student will be getting 45% marks and at times, a good student can also fail. This is our sytem, and a student need not bother at these things and percentage of marks.
5. A law student should focus on language, writing, art of doing research and presentation skills. He must also know the basics of Information Technology and a student should be good at doing on-line research.
6. A law student should have the quality of learning everything he can. This is very important quality of a successful lawyer.
7. After completing law, a student with no privileged background or contacts may not be able to get an opportunity to work with senior advocates or reputed lawyers. A young lawyer should not worry at these things.
8. During initial days, even if a young lawyer gets a megre sum as remuneration, he should work hard and should try to learn everything in profession. He should take the opportunity of working with the court system and should start from doing clerical work. If you are interested and hardworking, wherever you work, you will be given lot of opportunity to work and you should take advantage of that. An young lawyer should focus on learning everything in profession and should try to get exposure to various courts like Rent Control Courts, Tribunals, Motor Vehicle Tribunals, Family Courts, Civil Courts, Industrial Tribunals, Consumer Courts, Magistrate Courts and High Court.
9. If a student is interested in profession and studied well in college, then, he will very easily understand the court system and practice and will very soon gain a complete understanding. This gives him confidence.
10. When a young lawyer is sincere at the initial days, many Advocates, Senior Advocates and Judges would observe him and that gives him recognition and also that recognition presents him with plenty of opportunities which he fails to get initially. Even if you are turned down by Senior Advocates initially, if you establish yourself in Court through hard-work, making use of limited opportunity, then, opportunities will follow you.
11. While youngsters enter into the legal profession, he should be patient at various things in profession. He should get adjusted with the system initially as otherwise; he will loose interest in profession.
12. A young lawyer can be bullied by judges for no fault, can be bullied by the so-called Senior Advocates etc. and he should not take those things seriously. You may be punished for your confidence at times and you may get an adverse order even in a very good case and you may not be able to understand as to why you have got such an adverse order. This is all part of the system and a younger should understand this and should remember that there is always a provision for appeal. When a judge is determined to punish, then, it is very difficult to escape. There can be very good judges who will encourage youngsters and these judges will guide and correct the youngsters in profession very often.
13. After 2 or 3 years of rigorous work in profession with a very meager salary, then, you should have a planning as to how to proceed further in profession. If you want to practice in profession, then, you need to find a Senior Lawyer or office where you can get lot of exposure and contacts. Public relations are very important at this stage. You may also concentrate on some specific areas to practice like Tax Law, Company Law, Labour Law, Consumer Law or Criminal Law.
14. A young lawyer should never loose temper at a judge or with the senior. It is better to avoid arguments with your senior unless he is receptive to discussion.
15. At this stage, you need to concentrate on public relations, getting the confidence of clients you deal with. Slowly, though it is difficult for the people with no financial background to establish his or her own practice, you can plan well and can establish your own practice. When you start your own practice, you must be able to convince any client who meets you and must be able to handle the litigation effectively. Some Senior Advocates guide their juniors to have their own practice and even if there is no encouragement from anyone, you can establish your own practice soon in profession if you plan well. Planning is very important in profession.
16. Any youngster entering into legal profession must be in a position to start his own practice within 4 to 5 years of experience in profession. From there, the real journey starts. When you compare yourself with your friends, then, you will certainly be disappointed where your friends will be getting very good salary working with companies and with minimal effort.
17. In legal profession, it will certainly take time to succeed and one should have patience. There can be so many personal problems and responsibilities for a young lawyer without privileged background. It is not an easy way and at the same time, anyone can succeed in legal profession if he is committed to.
18. I always feel that if a youngster is courageous and have financial background, then, setting-up his or her own practice and being successful is easy.
19. During initial days of practice, litigants may try to exploit a young lawyer and with experience, he will be overcoming all these problems.
20. When you start your own practice, then, you should be in a position to argue even with Senior Advocates in Court and you must be courageous in this regard though judges often discourage or ridicule youngsters when they argue a case with an established Senior Lawyer. This is the reason when a party engages a Senior Lawyer, even opposite engages another Senior Lawyer to present his case as if it is a written rule. Its all illogical.
Youngsters entering in legal profession should not waste their time in court corridors unless waiting is a part of your job. Time management is key in legal profession and unless you master the art of time management, it is very difficult to succeed in legal profession.
Whatever the problems in legal profession or legal system, legal profession is a wonderful profession and legal professionals can offer so much to the society with their exposure to society and the quality of constant learning. This is the reason why we see many lawyers as top politicians.
Wishing all the best to the young lawyers with no privileged background.
Note: the views expressed are my personal.
V.DURGA RAO, Advocate, Madras High Court.
Email: [email protected]