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Vision Statement 2011-13

VISION STATEMENT 2011-2013

The need of the hour is to build for the future and create access across this honourable profession.

The Indian legal profession is one of the largest in the world and plays a vital role in the world’s largest democracy. While the roots of this profession lie before Independence, since then the profession has evolved immensely and currently faces various challenges; the most important being to provide access across the profession, ensure ethical foundations and modernise the practice across the board.

The Indian legal profession today consists of approximately 12 lakh registered advocates, around 950 law schools and approximately 4-5 lakh law students across the country. Every year, approximately 60,000 – 70,000 law graduates join the legal profession in India. The practice of law has however changed drastically in the past few decades – and the major reason for the same has been the liberalisation and growth of the Indian economy. Therefore, we now see a rapidly growing (and international quality) corporate legal sector in India as well as the beginning of an outsourced legal process services sector. Further, the growth of the Indian economy has inevitably led to complex laws and regulations and it is important that lawyers across India have access to necessary tools to keep up with the pace of change.

The first step with respect to modernising and equipping the legal profession has been taken through the All India Bar Examination (“AIBE”), which was put in place during the last academic year. The AIBE has proved to be a very useful benchmark evaluation tool and we are continuing our efforts in this direction. In our view, a strong AIBE will ensure that the quality of the bar in India is increased and maintained in the years to come and will also serve as a yardstick to improve legal education across the country by enforcing a minimum benchmark for law students seeking to practice across the country.

An important step, which will be taken shortly, is with respect to creating a database of lawyers and building tracking mechanisms with respect to practitioners of law across the country. This would ensure that the Bar Council of India can create schemes and systems that benefit lawyers across India and that such schemes are empirically evaluated, resources can be effectively deployed and constantly monitored to ensure that the intended effect is being achieved. To this end, the Bar Council of India is currently in the process of conceptualising and putting in place a UIN (Unique Identification Number) system for lawyers, law students and law schools across the country.

The area of legal education is one where urgent steps need to be taken to ensure that law students receive sufficient training to deal with the rapidly evolving practice of law in India and abroad. It is well known that there are various shortcomings in this area, including issues that are generic to the higher education space in India such as a teaching resources deficit, access to knowledge databases and accepted practices, lack of monitoring and evaluation etc. While the top law schools in India have surmounted some of these problems, there is clear divide between these law schools and the significant majority of law schools (and law students) that are struggling to ensure a basic level of competence in the law.

To this end, the Bar Council of India will work in parallel on different fronts – creation of faculty resource pools and training of these faculty; placement of well trained faculty across law schools in the country; creating and monitoring of clear quality standards across legal education; providing access to online databases (including online judgment databases) and distance learning tools (such as videos etc.) to law schools and law students across the country and conducting periodic seminars and workshops for law students so that they are aware of best practices in various areas. The are of legal education needs to be modernised quickly so that the secondary effects on the bar are limited and practising lawyers are imparted necessary skill sets before embarking upon a professional career.

The Bar Council of India is also well aware that practising lawyers require similar access and training to constantly improve themselves and build a strong practice. A system of continuing legal education through various methodologies including seminars and workshops needs to be put in place for the same and various stakeholders such as State Bar Councils, High courts etc. will have to be involved in this. A system like the UIN will serve as a useful framework for implementing and tracking continuing legal education across the profession. Further, practising lawyers should also get access to hardware and software resources, as well as training on the use of technology across the profession to help them improve their practice. It is important to provide access to knowledge and information resources (embracing a multi-disciplinary approach) to all parts of the legal profession and training programmes such as the Shri Rajiv Gandhi Advocates’ Training Scheme should also be expanded so that young lawyers who have recently joined the bar can take advantage of the same.

The Indian legal profession cannot view itself in isolation from international practices and approaches in law. In a globalised world, the practice of law is increasingly becoming symbiotic with international changes and influences. In order to encourage such exchanges that Bar Council of India has already entered into an MoU with the Law Council of Australia and is putting in place a law student exchange programme with the Paris Bar Association. Such international exchanges and collaborations should be pursued and encouraged in the years to come.

We look forward to the support of all stakeholders in implementing the above vision and to creating a fair, equitable and modern legal profession.

Chairman

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