- The CJI gave a speech at the Coffee Table Book launch by the SILF.
- He addressed the issues faced by the first-generation lawyers and urged the law firms to extend the opportunities to them in cities other than Tier-1 cities.
- He praised the Indian law firms for their efforts in the country and also for their involvement at the international platform and their role in the economy during the COVID pandemic.
- He made proposals that would be beneficial for the present and future lawyers.
- He also shared his experience when he was pursuing law and how the society looks at the legal profession.
- This article discusses the aspects discussed in the speech and also how it would impact on the lives of the current and next generation of lawyers.
A lawyer from the decade before would know the difficulties of practicing law in India. The lawyers are responsible for maintaining peace and justice in the country to a great extent. But their contribution is not recognised much. How do they contribute? They are the ones who help settle disputes, fight cases to get you justice and also prevent disputes from arising by simply showing off their knowledge, before anyone they know, about the consequences of an action. So a person refrains from doing an act which would land him in legal trouble.
The Chief Justice of India was present for the Coffee Table Book launch published by the Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF).The Attorney General K. K. Venugopal, former President of Bar Association Senior Advocate Fali S. Nariman and founders like Zia Mody, Cyril Shroff, Jyoti Sagar, N. G. Khaitan and V. Lakshmikumaran also addressed the event.
The Chief Justice shared his experiences during pursuing graduation, on how he was questioned about his decision to study law and how everyone thought that when you do not get any other employment, you take up law. It was a dream for a first generation lawyers to practice sustainably in a court of law. If someone takes up law as a profession, then it was considered as a last resort and he learnt majority of his knowledge from practicing.He also stated that, even today, inequity in opportunities exists for lawyers.
Law Firms and their Impact on India
The legal landscape went through a huge change when economic liberalization came to India as the demand for more number of lawyers increased, due to their specialized knowledge on business and corporate laws. India has seen tremendous macro-economic growth and growth in commercial law advisory, with relation to influx of foreign capital, which has increased the growth rate in mergers and acquisitions, project finance, structured finance, corporate insolvency and capital markets.
The India law firms have achieved the same stand as the other law firms in the world and have also attained a one stop solution platform for the clients. They cover issues relating to dispute resolution, white-collar crimes, IPR, etc. that fulfil the diverse requirements of the clients, which reduces the cost and time and provides a holistic approach to the legal needs. The partners of the law firms are known to provide expert solutions in their specialization field. The firms have lent a helping hand to the entrepreneurs and business houses to turn their ideas and dreams into a reality. The strategies of the law firms have made a great impact on environmental issues, employment issues and labour laws.
India has acquired over 350 Mergers and Acquisitions worth USD 37.5 billion with over 140 transactions worth USD 21 billion during the pandemic itself. India also recorded Private Equity deal making activities worth USD 40 billion. This is because of the steps and efforts of the law firms which have helped our economy. The CJI suggested that SILF is the best platform to formulate policies and build commitments.
Suggestions for the Firms
The law firms need to increase their community outreach as the perception of the law firms’ services being only for the rich needs to be changed. It is a misconception, even among the lawyers, that the activities of the law firms are not meant for the society. The law firms on the global platform have been taking up social causes and working actively to provide justice. He urged them to take up pro-bono cases and reach out to those who cannot reach them and to fulfil our constitutional aspirations.
Law firms can provide economic mobility to first generation law graduates who would otherwise struggle in the litigation system and their packages act as an additional incentive for taking up law as a career. There is a lackof diversity in the law firms as majority of the law firms only recruit from select universities from the Tier-1 cities only. Many talented students are left out despite their interest, talent and willingness. He urged for inclusivity and diversity which would bring wide ranging holistic and equitable solutions to the table. It is important that the firms target to include more women in the law firms. Some of the best and renowned lawyers of the country belong to small towns and villages. When the legal fraternity is gearing up to enter the next phase of legal project, it is important for us to look inwards.
The 2nd and 3rd Tier cities are changing into business hubs, which raise the issue of proper training of the future lawyers to adapt to the changes. The commercial activities would lead to disputes in the transactions, which would require local talent to look into the disputes, for which training camps, scholarship systems and other competitive ways on the part of the firms would be set up to spot new talent and come up with effective ways to solve the disputes.
The path that we have chosen is one filled with rich tradition, which must be followed with integrity. The future of the legal fraternity depends on the changing attitudes, so it is imperative for us to have a fair and competitive platform for our graduates.
As a first-generation lawyer, I believe that the points put forward by the Chief Justice of India would be very effective if proper implementation can be ensured. The society, even today, considers law as a profession of liars, rather than lawyers. It still does not get the respect that a profession that is responsible for providing justice to the citizens. It is still considered as a last resort and only students who have very low potential in making a career, prefer taking up law as a profession. It is the lawyers who are responsible for redeeming the image of the profession. One more reason why the legal profession is considered not so important good opportunity as a career is because if you do not have a legal background, it is very difficult to make a earning in the profession because of the very less opportunities. So the speech has been nothing but a huge motivation for the first generation lawyers.
The speech, though is highly motivating, it is yet to be seen what effect these words would have on the law firms. Whether the diamonds in the rough from smaller cities can be found or not, will be decided by time only. Judges, like former CJI Dipak Misra, who hails from a small town and is a graduate from a non NLU university, have achieved recognition at a national level due to their hard work. So it is not impossible to achieve those heights today, but the increased competition and lack of resources needs to be tackled to have an effective legal fraternity.