ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Reformation of the Legal Profession in the Interest of Justice

The legal profession plays an important role in society—advocates are flag-bearers of the law and defend fundamental rights. They are also officers of the court. The Advocates Act, 1961, grants power to the Bar Council of India and the state bar councils to self-regulate the profession and establish rules relating to admission and enrolment, conditions of practice, standards of professional conduct and etiquette, disciplinary proceedings, legal education, recognition of law colleges, and welfare activities.

 

The legal profession is one of the very few professions mentioned in the Constitution. The role of the legal profession in society is manifold—its members are flag-bearers of the rule of law and they defend fundamental rights. Along with these responsibilities, members of the legal profession have been conferred significant power and privileges as officers of the court. First, only advocates have the right to access and represent others in a court of law. No citizen, other than an advocate, has the right to appear, act, or plead in court. Every citizen depends on members of the legal profession for the fulfilment and enjoyment of their legal rights and to enjoy the status of first-class citizens. Second, in India, the term “legal professionals” refers only to those “advocates” who are law graduates and have been enrolled in state bar councils (SBCs). An emerging class of legal professionals engaged with various law-related activities—such as government law officers, corporate lawyers, law firms, law professors, legal researchers, and patent attorneys—have been excluded from recognition as advocates. Third, the judiciary has clarified the otherwise undefined concept of “practice of law” to include all forms of legal activities, including both litigious and non-litigious work, such as appearing in court, drafting, giving opinions, performing transactional work, consulting, arbitrating, mediating, filing vakalatnamas (power of attorney), and working as legal officers. Thus, “advocates” enrolled in bar councils enjoy exclusive monopoly over the right to practise law in all courts, tribunals, and other authorities in India.

The members of the legal profession were granted monopoly of the right to practise law by the Parliament in recognition of the pivotal role they played during the Freedom Struggle and their high ethical and moral professional standards. The Advocates Act, 1961, enacted with the objective of creating “a unified Bar for the whole country with monopoly in legal practice and autonomy in matters of professional management,” conferred the Bar Council of India (BCI) and SBCs with the power to self-regulate the profession and lay down rules relating to admission and enrolment, conditions of practice, standards of professional conduct and etiquette, disciplinary proceedings, legal education, recognition of law colleges, and welfare activities. These powers were granted to the bar councils to promote the administration of justice and uphold the dignity of the profession in the eyes of the common people.

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Updated On : 13th Jan, 2018

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