Practicing as a Lawyer in India

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Emerged successfully as one of the ancient judiciary systems in the world, the Indian Legal System has established a special place of importance in the World History of India. Inherited after more than 200 years of ruling by the Britishers and their law, the Indian Legal System received its existence and similarities from the English Legal System. Adapting with modifications, the Indian Constitution frames and structures the legal system.

Empowering the supreme law and foundations of law, the Constitution of India became effective on 26th January, 1950. Modified with time today, the Indian Judiciary System is comprised of statute law and common law. With the state of  art authority, right, structures, procedures, duties and power of the Indian Constitution, the Indian Legal System forms a three tier legal system in India, namely, the Supreme Court of India: the apex one, the High Court: the state courts and lastly Subordinate Court: the district courts.

Being one of the largest and the oldest professions in the world, the Indian Legal Profession has been enrolled with more than 1.4 million advocates across the country. In order to practice Law as an advocate or barrister or solicitor, the legal professional should be enrolled with the Bar Council of India.

 The legislation/ body governing Indian lawyers in India

The Advocates Act, 1961

The Advocates Act, 1961 is an autonomous act of law that governs and empowers the legal profession in India. Extending across the country, the Advocates Act, 1961 is passed by the Parliament, of India, providing the laws for legal practitioners and the constitution of the Bar Council of India as well as state bar councils. The act reserves the rights of legal enrollment, professional ethics, admission, practice, discipline, education, regulations, improvisations, and law reforms, etc , for legal professionals namely, Indian Lawyer and advocates practicing in India.

The Bar Council of India

Holding, an essential position in the Indian Judiciary System, the Bar Council of India is a legal body representing and regulating the Indian Bar. The Bar Council of India Act, 1926 unites different grades of legal practicing and enables different courts bars to function as a self- governing body or entity. The Bar Council of India is responsible for planning, prescribing and implementing issues with respect to legal education, professional conduct, and qualification measures for legal enrollment, legal ethics, professional control and disciplinary jurisdiction above the bar. The act majorly reserves the rights for enrollment of legal professionals for practicing law as Advocates in Indian Court. The Bar Council of India also keeps the stake in granting recognition to only those law universities whose students’ qualification will be accepted in the eyes of the Indian Judicial System.

The requirements for registering as a lawyer under the Indian Bar.

In order to practice law in India, an ‘advocate’ or a ‘lawyer’ is mandated to fully comply with all the provisions mentioned under the act. In order to register as a lawyer in India, the following requirements of the State Bar Councils are also to be duly complied with:

  • The Law Graduate should be an Indian Citizen.
  • Must have completed 21 years of age.
  • Must have obtained a degree in Law from a university of law school recognized by the Bar Council of India or
  • Secured a foreign qualification in law which is duly acknowledged by the Bar Council of India in order to be accepted as a ‘lawyer’ under the India bar.
Code of Conduct for Lawyers in India vis-vis their ‘clients’

Lawyers in India have to abide by the following rules and regulations, stipulated under the Advocates act, 1961 and the Bar Council of India Rules. Some of these rules as mentioned herein below:

  • A lawyer is under an obligation to accept briefs from his clients, in order to represent them in any court, tribunal or any institution before which he/she is lawfully entitled to practice law in India.
  • A lawyer cannot  withdraw from service, unless he/she has tangible and grave reasons for doing so,
  • A lawyer  is not authorized to represent a client in a case in court, in which he himself is a deponent,
  • A lawyer should make a full and forthright divulgence of all the details, which might or might not  have a detrimental effect on his/her client’s case in the near future,
  • It is the moral responsibility of a lawyer to protect and defend the well being of his/her client,
  • A lawyer must not conceal any information or evidence  which would lead to the wrongful sentencing of ‘an  innocent’ person,
  • All communications, email exchanges between lawyers and clients must be kept confidential and details of which should not be divulged to any third person,
  • The  lawyer should not infuriate  or initiate litigation,
  • The  lawyer will only act only on the order’s of his client or a personal duly authorized by the client and no one else,
  • The lawyer shall  not abuse or ill treat the trust and confidence  entrusted in him/her by the client,
  • ‘A lawyer  shall not enter into an arrangements whereby funds in his hands are converted into loans’,
  • A lawyer who represented one of the parties to a suit is not authorized to take part in the sale or the auction proceeding of that property as a buyer,
  • A lawyer is obligated to keep a detailed record or information pertaining to any money delivered to him/her by the client,
  • A lawyer who represented one party in a suit or legal proceeding cannot appear for the other party in the same suit,
  • Not adjust fees against personal liability.
Qualifying Indian Lawyers with Foreign Law Degree

Practicing as a lawyer in India with a foreign degree in Law does calls for rounds of speculation for ensuring its authenticity and legality. But under the Advocates Act, an Indian can pursue his or her graduation in law only from those foreign universities that are approved under the recognition given to them by the Bar Council of India.

Foreign Lawyers in the Indian Legal System

The Advocates Act, 1961 allows foreign lawyers to practice law in India on a reciprocal basis as stipulated under section 47.The much debatable issue of authorizing Foreign Lawyers to practice in India has still not received a wave from the Supreme Court and is being expected with a blank resolution for the same. However, the Madras High Court passed the judgment for foreign lawyers to practice in India under the act of “Fly In” and “Fly Out”. Fly In and Fly Out, permits foreign law firms or foreign lawyers to temporary visit India to give legal advice to their clients on foreign legal issues. However, after the judgment announced by Bombay High Court in the case of Lawyers’ Collective Vs Bar Council of India & Ors, foreign law firms or foreign lawyers have been denied the right to practice law in India. However, the Madras High Court supports their proposal with reasons that since foreign law firms or lawyers do not have an official space in India, they do not come under the act of enrolment, yet they can practice under fly in and fly out. However, the struggle for the same still continues amongst Indian Lawyers and Law Firms, presently, foreign Lawyers and firms are denied from the right to practice in India.

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