Research Foundation for Governance in India
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Projects > Seminar during Litigation Project Phase-I

On 5th July, 2009, a seminar on “Entry Barriers to the Profession of Litigation” was organized at GLS Auditorium by RFGI.

Litigation Seminar
(Image: Dr. Madhava Menon and Hon. Chief Justice Radhakrishnan)

The event began with welcome address by the Founder Director of RFGI, Ms. Kanan Dhru, who gave a brief introduction to the Foundation and to the topic. In her address, Kanan spoke about how the organization aims to spread awareness and encourage young legal minds to join litigation by recommending changes in the existing system to ensure that the profession becomes a desirable one rather than a last choice. This was followed by a presentation by RFGI team members on the aforementioned results of the survey suggesting that entry barriers do exist to the profession of litigation. The presentation also compared the salaries of young litigators in India to those in the US and UK and found that while there is a great discrepancy between the income of young litigators and young corporate attorneys in India, no such discrepancy exists in the UK or US.

The chief guests of the event then spoke presenting their views on entry barriers to the profession of litigation. Dr. Madhava Menon discussed the gap between legal education and practice that exists especially in the field of litigation and how law schools in India are not equipped to fill this gap. He discussed the need for other institutions including the Bar Councils and Bar Associations to create institutions that teach the specific skills necessary to become a successful litigator. He went on to discuss the need for improvements in legal education, especially for 3 year law programs, and his desire that every law school in India be a National Law School. Dr. Menon also stated that he did not believe entry barriers to the profession existed and hoped that young graduates interested in litigation would create lawyers collectives and start their own practices rather than being deterred by juniorship.

Honorable Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court, Mr. Justice Radhakrishnan then graced the stage and spoke of the importance of the judiciary not only for those involved in the legal profession, but for the entire citizenry. He discussed the necessity of encouraging young lawyers to enter the profession and spoke of an earlier suggestion he had made to create a lawyer’s training establishment that would teach the skills necessary to become a litigator that law schools are not equipped to. He also suggested having less involvement of senior lawyers in the lower courts, labor courts, and tribunal courts so as to allow the juniors more opportunities to gain experience. While he agreed that family background in the field was important in establishing one’s career as a litigator, he emphasized the role that the Bar Council, Bar Association, and entire legal fraternity could play in encouraging young lawyers. The Chief Justice also discussed the possibility of creating a system for young law students to enter the judiciary directly, rather than after years of experience as a lawyer.

The speeches were then followed by a panel discussion intended to further the debate. Supreme Court advocate Mr. Rajshekhar Rao talked about how he did not believe entry barriers to the profession existed, as no profession is easy in the early years. He chronicled his own story and the struggles he faced as a young lawyer, but how he continued to go to court everyday because he loved the profession. Mr. Sachin Malhan, the founder of Law School Tutorials, narrated how young students often want to join corporate law, but have little knowledge of what the field actually entails. Examples were also given of young lawyers who were interested in litigation, but joined corporate law due to the incentives provided, and found themselves leaving to join litigation soon after. Mr. Vypak Desai from Nishith Desai Associates discussed the frustrations faced by litigators due to the long delays in the courts and lack of adequate infrastructure. He joked of the importance of believing in reincarnation because that is the only way many trials will be heard. Mr. Devang Nanavati also suggested that while family background in the profession may be helpful it also comes with its own burdens.

The event was only the first phase of RFGI’s efforts to improve the system of juniorship in India. The organization plans to continue its efforts through additional research and seminars and hopes to bring an end to the exploitation of juniors and improve the quality of young litigators in the Indian legal system.

Seminar: Presentation

Download the Presentation: RFGI litigation presentation.pps


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