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History of legal profession

Law is the set of rules and regulations governing the society. Legal history is closely connected to the development of civilizations and is set in the wider context of social history.

The earliest people who could be described as "lawyers" were probably the orators of ancient Athens. However, Athenian orators faced serious structural obstacles. First, there was a rule that individuals were supposed to plead their own cases, which was soon bypassed. Second, a more serious obstacle, which the Athenian orators never completely overcame, was the rule that no one could take a fee to plead the cause of another. They had to uphold the legal fiction that they were merely an ordinary citizen generously helping out a friend for free, and thus they could never organize into a real profession, this narrows down the definition of the profession and hence the first lawyers would have to be the orators of ancient Rome.

The history of the legal profession in India can be traced back to the establishment of the First British Court in Bombay in 1672 by Governor Aungier. The admission of attorneys was placed in the hands of the Governor-in-Council and not with the Court. Prior to this, there were no legal practitioners.

In the charter of 1726, which established the mayors courts at the three presidency towns, no specific provisions was made laying down any particular qualifications for the persons who would be entitled to act or plead as legal practitioners in these courts.

The first concrete step in the direction of organizing a legal profession of India was taken in 1774 when the Supreme Court was established at Calcutta under The Regulating act 1773 which empowered the SC to frame rules of procedure as it thought necessary for the administration of justice and due execution of its powers. The indigenous Indian legal practitioner had no entry in this court.

Under Regulation VII of 1793- The Regulation, created for the first time a regular legal profession for the Company's Adults. The Regulation brought order and a measure of quality to pleading and sought to establish practice of law as a regular profession.

Then came The Legal Practitioners Act, 1846, which was the first All-India law concerning the pleaders in the mofussil. This Act is regarded as the "first charter of the legal profession" although it left unsolved the important question of the right of Vakils to practice in the Supreme Courts.

Advocates Act, 1961 was enacted to amend and consolidate the law relating to legal practitioners. And to provide to the Constitution of slate Bar Councils and the All India Bar Council.

Rules of Conduct under Advocates Act

The legal professionals should conduct themselves withetiquettes and manner. Advocates Act, 1961 empowers the Bar Council to lay down certain rules of conduct. Advocate hold a duty to the court where he is accountable to his client. There are different codes and rules to be followed –

  • To carry themselves in a dignified manner.
  • They should dress properly to distinguish them from others otherwise they’ll have special respect. For example, colored hair, wearing a lot of bangles, wearing scarf in the courtroom, all this is not formal.
  • They should conduct themselves in a respectful manner and should address the court, the judge, the opposite counsel, the litigant with utmost respect.
  • They should confront the witnesses with politeness that is no harassing them or humiliating them.
  • They should not gossip about other colleagues or judge, should always talk with thoughtfulness, and is any judge is not following it, they can file a complaint about it to the Bar Council but should not gossip about the same.
  • The lawyers are expected not to communicate the judge in private to influence the judgment and the decision of they should not use excuses like inviting them to wedding to be in judge’s good books.
  • They should not use any illegal manner of conduct with opposite party to support the interest of client. For example decree and exemption.
  • Advocates should refuse to represent the litigants who wants them to get their work done by illegal means.
  • They should avoid conflict of interest. The lawyers should not appear before a judge who is a family member as Justice should not only be done but should appear to be done.
  • Lawyers should not represent the establishments in which they themselves are members.
  • No advocate should refuse the brief unless there’s a special reason for that. They can later refuse them to represent them.
  • The fees charged by the lawyers should be at par with what others are charged that is not too high, not too less.
  • Once the advocate agrees to the case he should not withdraw without any reasonable notice and without intimation to the client.
  • The advocates should not in any case disclose the facts told by the client as they are very confidential. The court cannot force him to disclose as this is under Advocates Privilege under Section 126 of Evidence Act.
  • Advocate himself is not supposed to be involved in the outcome of the litigation. For example no share in the property that is being fought, should not bid in the auction of the property.
  • The advocate should maintain a proper account and should not adjust his fees from that amount. Once a litigating party has engaged him, he should not engage from the opposite party since he already knows the secrets.


Professional ethics are the duties that have to be followed by an advocate during his profession. These moral duties are the basic courtesy which every person in their field should know. Legal history is closely connected to the development of civilizations and is set in the wider context of social history. The responsibility of legal profession to the Indian society is indeed great, as has been its history. The legal profession is not a business but a profession. It has been created by the state for the public good.The fundamental aim of legal ethics is to maintain honor and dignity of the legal profession to ensure the spirit of friendly co- operation, honorable and fair dealing of the counsel with his clients as well as to secure the responsibilities of the lawyers towards the society.

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