When I was a student of law, I was privileged to see enthusiastic young students discussing many constitutional issues, peculiar cases and even discussing interesting issues of International Law. There was no doubt in my mind at that time that these young students would become famous lawyers in the near future to come. But, when I look back now at all those talented students graduated from law school, I did find that these young students embrace the opportunities in Corporate World and they preferred working in Companies or MNC’s rather Court practice. Even in the profession, I find young lawyers being impatient at the difficulties in legal profession during initial period and they hesitate to wait and stay in the profession. This is not good for judiciary and also the society at large. Even the young legal professionals having some legacy and privilege are choosing to quit profession so early. There can be few exceptions. If the talented young legal professionals stay in profession with passion and persistence, then, they can become judges or they can become reputed lawyers in the near future. As such, the issue of talent retention has the direct link to the standards in legal profession and also the Judiciary. I see many law graduates practicing in Courts and they say that they have no option except to stay in profession and I am not insulting any one or my colleagues, but, this is the factual position now. We know the issues of corruption, the technicalities, how the panel advocates are appointed in Public Financial Institutions and PSU’s and how the Government Advocates and Central Government Standing Counsel are appointed. As such, the possible avenues for a young legal practitioner without any legacy is that he should catch the eye of litigants or the public while he works with some senior or in some office. Even a young lawyer practicing in some office is not allowed to handle his cases independently at times and there exist complications in the Course. Thus, if a young lawyer without any legacy or financial support chooses to stay in court practice and is enthusiastic to become a prominent lawyer one-day, he may have to analyze all the difficulties in the profession so quickly and should find a way-out. Normally, litigants or public will not prefer to get the services of a young lawyer and they look at the so-called experience and they will give priority to the ‘seniority’ and they want to engage a ‘senior advocate’. The exception to the said situation is that the young lawyers are preferred to file Bail Applications and to file and defend Criminal Cases. Otherwise, a young lawyer is preferred upon ‘cost’ considerations. With all these issues, even if a fresh law graduate is enthusiastic and intelligent, due to his personal responsibilities and the difficulties, may not choose to struggle in the legal profession and instead, he may prefer for better opportunities in Corporate World. Corporate World presents many opportunities today for the bright and right people and as such many young law graduates or legal professionals try to embrace prosperous opportunities rather preferring Court practice.
As such, there can be a justification for the law graduates who are not privileged in embracing the opportunities in the Corporate World. If we need to convince these people to stay in profession for public interest and for strengthening the judiciary, then, the atmosphere in the profession should be convincing for them and making the atmosphere convincing will definitely take lot of time. But, change will certainly come at one point of time in future. If we don’t retain talented young law graduates, then, whom do people or needy approach for the remedy or for protection of their Fundamental Rights through Courts. Who will compete to get appointed as judge? Who will get appointed to the post of judge of Constitutional Courts?. The consequence of this situation is not certainly good for the people, system and also for the Judiciary and it is important to keep the respect of the judiciary intact and the legacy should be continued.
In many other cases, though the fresh law gradates do possess all the moral and financial support to stay in Court Practice, even then, they are not waiting in profession and they lack persistence in profession. This is the significant issue. The privileged should not leave Court practice though their style of functioning or the area of practice may differ. We need to continue having the presence of brilliant people in Courts and it will further strengthen the Judiciary and its respect. In my opinion, though law schools today produce brilliant students, the presence of brilliance in profession is getting degraded and it should not happen. The perception in the minds of few that only bad people come to court with ulterior motives may not be right and there tend to be genuine grievances and for underprivileged, Courts are the only hope and we know the laudable pronouncements of Constitutional Courts in this Country under Article 226 and Article 32 of Constitution of India and in entertaining Public Interest Litigations despite the criticism that the Judiciary over-steps into the domain of executive at times.
I hope that the presence of talented people in Courts continue, legacy of legal profession and Indian Judiciary continues.
Note: the views expressed are my personal and with all respect to judges, courts, colleagues, senior advocates and the also the system. Have no intention to belittle the system or anyone.
V.DURGA RAO, Advocate, Madras High Court.