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Rise of Legal Education In India And Its Present Scenario

Legal education in the India generally refers to the education of lawyers before entry into practice. Legal education in India is offered at different levels by the traditional universities and the specialized law universities and schools only after completion of an undergraduate degree or as an integrated degree. The people in India regard law as the concern of the Lawyers, Judges and Courts only. The language of law is complex, critical and not easily understandable by ordinary people.

Further the law books are generally published in English. Majority of Indians are illiterates. Even the percentage of literates is less, that too they could not understand the law very easily.

Law is changing day by day. The people are interested in their daily livelihood, jobs, and professions. They could not spare the time and expense to know the law. In fact, law is a social control. Besides it has the primary aim of social welfare. It is an instrument of social change. In western countries, most of the people are literates.

They want to know the law. They read law books. In America for every four Americans, two Americans possess law degrees, diplomas, etc. This does not mean that all of the Law Degree Holders shall practice legal profession. There are a few numbers of Advocates practicing the profession. Prevention is better than cure. This is implemented in America. This awareness is lacking in India. In pre-British Rule, the administration of justice was done by Hindu Kings according to Dharmasastras and by Muslim Kings according to Quranic injunctions. Both the systems were against to each other. There were no legal practitioners. The accused, petitioners etc. themselves pleaded before the authorities. The judgment was pronounced and implemented on the spot.

After British rule was started by the East India Company, the legal profession was also started. Gradually the western civilization, culture, education, administration of justice, etc. were introduced in India. The western judicial system substituted the centuries old aged Hindu Dharmasastras and Quranic injunctions, and amended them according to modern needs. Law, legal education and development have become inter-related in a modern state.

The legal education speeded the nationalism among Indians. Ipso facto, several famous Indian leaders possessed law degrees, Moti Lal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Ambedkar, etc. The legal education changed the Indian political and social, administrative set up.

After independence too, the legal education is diversified. Its importance is increasing day by day. Legal education is required for a social welfare democratic country for several purposes, viz. courts, legislation, administration, law and order, business, etc. Policy-makers, administrators, industrial entrepreneurs, lawyers, law teachers, etc. should know the law.

Legal Education before Independence

The East India Company introduced the British system of judicial courts, proceedings from the very beginning in 1600. Charters 1726 and 1753 established Mayor’s Courts. The Supreme Court at Calcutta was established in 1774 by the Regulating Act, 1773. Warren Hastings, Corn Wallis, Bentinck, etc. the Governors-general introduced several judicial reforms. In those days, the Barristers came from London. There was no legal education in India.

Only high rich people could avail the legal services of British Barristers. There was a great need of Indian advocates. To fill up the lacuna, law courses were started in 1855. The Hindu College in Calcutta, Elphinstone College in Bombay and Madras introduced law courses in 1855 for the first time. Up to the end of nineteenth century only males were allowed to study law courses. In the beginning of 20th century only, the ladies began to study the legal education.

Up to 1947, the progress of legal education was not satisfactory. There were very differentiations in the law course, duration, subjects, etc. from university to university. There was no uniformity. In some Universities, law degrees were awarded to the persons, who had completed graduation + two years law course. In some Universities, the duration, of law course was 3 years after graduation. In some Universities, the duration of law course was three years after Matric and P.U.C.

The law course was primarily aimed to legal practicing only. The syllabus contained mainly case laws and the subject. The product of these universities interested in practicing before the District Courts. There were a few High Courts and the Highest Appellate Court was Privy Council situated in London. In the Privy Council and the High Courts, the English Barristers were given highest importance and favour by the Judges. Indian legal practitioners were inferiors before the English Barristers.

After completing law course in India, the interested Indians used to go to England to acquire Bar-at-law, which was more prestige and social status. The degree “Bar-at-law” was regarded highest qualification rather than mere LLB from an Indian University. Gandhiji acquired “Bar-at-law” Degree. The High Courts were empowered to prescribe the minimum qualifications entitled for the enrolment of legal practitioners. Until 1961 the same situation was continued. In 1961, the Advocates Act was enacted, which empowered the Bar Council of India to prescribe the requisite legal qualifications for the enrolment of legal profession.

There were innumerable defects in the legal education before independence. The British rulers also did not want to develop to their standard. They feared if the legal education standards were increased they would reflect upon their administration. Professor Arthur Van Mehren wrote:
“The Indian legal profession and legal education were not developed with a rational functional approach to the problems of law and legal order. The Indian legal education inevitably tended to evolve in patterns that emphasized rote memory. To impart information not critical understanding remained the goal of legal education”.

Legal Education After Independence
After independence, the rate of literates has been increasing gradually, so in the case of legal education the number of law students has been improving from 1947 to up to now. There is wider scope of getting employment in legal fields, viz. such as legal advisers in industries, Chit Funds, finance companies, Press, etc., legal practitioners, judges, teachers in law colleges, administrators, writers, reporters, etc. The number of law colleges also has been growing from 1947 to up to now. 

Role Of Constitution Of India For Promoting Legal education
The Constitution of India, 1950 provide India a broader scope picture of social welfare, political and economic structure. It gives the ‘social welfare state’ in place of ‘police state’. Several High Courts, Tribunals, subordinate courts were established after independence. The Supreme Court of India, which substituted the Privy Council, has become the highest court of our land. The Constitution gives fundamental rights to every citizen. Now the aggrieved person approaches Court immediately, if his fundamental rights are violated. The legal, economic, social and political awareness has been increased in India due to the Constitution of India.

All these factors affected on legal education. The administrators, jurists, judges, professors, political leaders, etc. also concentrated for the development of legal education. Several commissions, committees, etc, were constituted which gave their recommendations for the development of legal education.

University Education Commission: This Commission was established in 1948. The primary object of this commission was to examine the quality of University Education. Besides this primary target, the Commission enquired and submitted its report on the legal education also.

The Commission reported:
“With the attainment of independence and the consequent responsibility of developing our own constitutional government, together with international relations, now as important as domestic affairs, it becomes imperative that we develop high grade colleges of law, real scholars, and capable of producing men who can cope with international, constitutional and administrative problems, as well as with the civil, criminal and routine demands which exist. Our gifts for philosophical studies would indicate that it is possible to have as great students of systematic law and the principles of jurisprudence as any other people”.

After verification and enquiry, the Commission gave its recommendations as follows:
  1. There should be a single degree course of three years duration in entire India.
  2. Degree in Arts or Science must be prescribed qualification to enter into law course.
  3. Practical training should be given to-every law student.
  4. The subjects of Constitutional Law, International Law, Legal History, the Fundamentals of jurisprudence, etc. must be given more attention.
  5. Roman Law which is the basic of all modern legal systems should be taught in the law course.
  6. Two years Master’s Degree in law after LL.B. course shall be introduced.

All-India Bar Committee, 1951
All-India Bar Committee, 1951 was established with the aims and objects of enquiring the defects in the profession. It gave report with the detailed recommendations. It submitted several recommendations for the integrity of the legal profession. It also submitted certain recommendations on the legal education.

It stated;
“ the uniform minimum qualification for admission to the roll of Advocates should be a law degree obtained after at least a two years study of law in the University after having first graduated in arts, Science or commerce and a further apprentice course of study for one year in practical subjects... after attending a certain percentage of lectures arranged for imparting instruction during the apprentice course".

All India Bar committee also recommended that a legal Education Committee of 12 persons for All India Bar Council, which shall give recommendations for the improvement of the legal education. This Committee should consist of two judges, five persons to be elected by the All-India Bar Council and five other persons from the Universities co-opted by these seven members.

First Law Commission Of India: After independence, Law Commission was constituted on 5-8-1955. This was the First Law Commission of India after independence. Its functions were to look into the matters pertaining all fields of law. Side by side, it also recommended and suggested various recommendations for the development of legal education.
  1. It recommended having the graduation qualification for the Bachelor in Law Course (LL.B.). It rejected minimum qualification of Intermediate.
  2. It suggested the minimum duration of LLB course should be for two years.
  3. If a person chooses to opt legal profession, that person should undergo one year practical training after the completion of LLB course.
  4. Law colleges should work as full-time institutions.
  5. Besides the lectures, the students should be given teaching by seminars, group discussions, tutorials, etc.
  6. Employees, the persons studying other courses should not be allowed to study full-time LLB courses in full-time institutions.
  7. The Bar Council of India should be empowered to decide the minimum prescribed entrance qualifications throughout India. Thus a uniform system can be adopted.

Universities Committees On Legal Education.
Besides the above Committees, several Universities Committees were also constituted. They had given their recommendations on legal education.
  1. These Committees recommended that three years LLB course shall be the best course instead of two years LLB.
  2. According to changing socio-economic circumstances of India new courses shall be introduced. Examples: Environmental law, industrial law, consumer protection law, etc.
  3. Instead of yearly examinations, semester system shall be introduced.
  4. Old laws, such as Roman law, etc. shall have to be deleted from the curriculum.
  5. The Committee observed;
    “The legal education is intended to be given to students who expect to follow one or another branch of legal profession, and its aim would be to make the students of law good lawyers who have absorbed and mastered the theory of law, its philosophy, its functions and its role in a democratic society”.
  6. The Committees also recommended any graduation as a prerequisite qualification for LL.B. course.
  7. In the place of English, Hindi and other vernacular languages shall be introduced in legal education.

University Grants Commission

It has also submitted several recommendations and reports to the Central government. It had also conducted several seminars, such as Kasauli Seminar, Poona Seminar, etc. Its recommendations were:
  1. It suggested a graduation qualification in arts or science for the three years LLB course.
  2. It recommended for the two years LLB course.
  3. The LLB course should be impacted by separate Law colleges, preferably universities, and each college should possess adequate library.
  4. It recommended abolishing private law institutions.
  5. LLB degree should be treated as a post-graduate degree.

Bar Council of India

Based upon the All lndia Bar Committee, 1951 report the Advocates Act, 1961 has been enacted. Accordingly the Bar Council of India was established in Delhi. It is a unanimous, juristic person. The Act provides several powers to the Bar Council of India.
  1. One of the important powers of the Bar Council of India is that it can lay down standards of such education in consultation with the universities in India imparting such education and the State Bar Councils (Section 7(l) (h) of the Advocates, Act 1961).
  2. Section 7 (l) (i) empowers the Bar Council to recognize Universities whose degree in law shall be a qualification for enrolment as an advocate and for that purpose to visit and inspect Universities or cause the State Bar Councils to visit and inspect Universities in accordance with such directions as may give in this behalf.
  3. The bold letters in the above section have been inserted newly by the Act 70 of 1993 newly, strengthening the Bar Council’s powers over the Universities and Law colleges. Thus Sections 70(1) (h) and 7(1) (i) give abundant and full powers to the Bar Council to control and manage the Universities and Law Colleges, and thus to improve the standards of the legal education.
  4. Further Section 49(1)( d) of the Advocates Act 1961 adds that the Bar Council of India has General Power to make any rules prescribing the standards of legal education to the be observed by university in India and the inspection of Universities for that purpose. Section 24(1) of the Advocates Act, 1961 provides that a citizen of India will be entitled to be admitted as an Advocate if he has obtained a degree in law from a University in India, which is recognised for the purposes of this Act by the Bar Council.
Therefore, the control management of legal institutions is in the hands of the Bar Council of India. Some of the Universities are giving two years course, called as B.G.L. (Bachelor of General Laws). The Bar Council does not recognized such course for the purpose of enrolment as an advocate.

The present position is that there are two LLB degrees:
(1). 10 + 2 + 3 + 3 i.e. (10 = Tenth class; + 2 = Intermediate; + 3 = any degree + 3 = LLB.) (2). 10 + 2 + 5 i.e. (10 = Tenth class + 2 = Intermediate; + 5 = LLB.)

10 + 2 + 5 System has been adopted with effect from 1982. Some of the Universities are following 10 + 2 + 3 + 3 system. Majority of the Universities introduced l0 + 2 + 5 side by side. The Bar Council was in dilemma whether to introduce one year practical training after completion of LL.B. course.

At last it had taken the decision to implement the scheme of apprenticeship with effect from 1996.

The Bar Council of India decided that the person who has completed Law course should obtain apprenticeship (Practical training), and then only he shall be admitted as an advocate. It is being now implemented. The object of this compulsory practical training is to improve the standards of legal education and also legal profession.

Adding to LLB degree, there are some other legal courses such as LLM (Master of Laws), PhD. (Doctorate in Law) for the persons who show academic interest.

The Bar Council recommended compulsory subjects and optional subjects. Indian Legal and Constitutional History, Contract, Torts, Family Law, Criminal Law and Procedure, Civil Procedure including Limitation Arbitration, Legal Theory and Jurisprudence, Constitutional Law, Transfer of Property, Evidence are the compulsory subjects to be imparted in a Law course. Administrative Law, Equity, Public International Law, Company Law, Labour Law, Taxation, Bankruptcy, Co-operation, Insurance, Trust and other Fiduciary Obligations, Trade Marks and Patents, Criminology and Criminal Administration, Interpretation of Statutes and Principles of Legislation, Legal Remedies, Private International Law, etc. are the optional subjects. Each University has power to include or, exclude the compulsory subjects and optional subjects.

Now the Bar Council of India is proposing to abolish the three years LL.B. course, and to continue only 10 + 2 + 5 + Practical Training for one year in entire India uniformly. However, the number of the persons is interested in joining in 3 years course. The admissions in 5 years course are poor.

Career options after acquiring a Law Degree:

  • Judge: Passes judgment after conducting the court proceedings and hearing  the concerned parties in Courts of Law.
  • Solicitor: Lawyer who advises clients, represents them in the courts, and prepares cases for Sr. Advocates to try in higher courts.
  • Criminal Lawyer: Specializes in criminal laws CrPC, IPC, Evidence Act and various other penal laws.
  • Civil Lawyer: Specializes in civil laws e.g. Taxation laws, Excise laws.
  • Notaries and Oath Commissioners: Lawyers who are licensed to attest documents and affidavits on oath.
  • Legal Analyst: Works for corporate firms and analyses laws pertaining to the sphere of the company and its operation.
  • Documentation Lawyer: Specializes in drafting various documents containing agreements, terms-conditions, case material, etc.
  • Legal Journalist: Covers crime beats, legal proceedings in courts, arbitration courts, international courts and arbitration events.
  • Corporate Lawyer/Legal Adviser: Offers consultancy to corporate firms regarding their legal obligations, duties, legal relations with other firms.
  • Government Lawyer: Works for the government and in close coordination with the police.
  • Law Teachers: With growing number of Law Schools teaching Law is a good career option.
  • Defence Services: Lawyers can join armed forces in their legal departments as JAG (Judge Advocate General) officers.
  • Public Prosecutor: Works as a representative of State in Criminal Courts in District Courts.
  • RTI Activist: Those with Social Service in mind can also become RTI Activist to make Public Servants and Govt.'s accountable to Law.

After independence, there was a significant development in the legal education. The number of the students and colleges increased. The legal education has been developed in two ways academic and professional. The responsibility of improving legal education has been divided in several bodies, viz. Bar Council of India, University Grants Commission, Universities, the Central Government, etc.

There should be a good co-operation and coordination between these institutions to develop the legal education still to be of more useful in present day socio economic and democratic country. The legal education should reach the common man successfully.

  1. Sharma S.K, Legal Profession in India, Sociology Of Law And Legal Profession: A Study Of Relations Between Lawyers And Their Clients, (Rawat Publications, Jaipur, 1984).
  2. Sushma Gupta, History of Legal Education, (Deep & Seep Publications (P) Ltd., New Delhi, 2006).
  3. JAIN. M.P, Outlines Of Indian Legal Hisotry, (Wadhwa &Co, Nagpur, Reprint, 1999).
  4. Raaii, History Of Courts, Legislature & Legal Profession In India, (Allahabad Law Agency, Faridabad, 1977).
  5. Kailash Rai, History Of Courts, Legislature & Legal Profession In India, (Allahabad Law Agency, Faridabad, 1977).
  6. Dr. S.S SHARMA, “Legal Services, Public interest Litigations & Para-legal services” (Central Law Agency, Allahabad, 2nd Edn., 2006).
  7. Legal Education In India, at
  8. Advocate Act 1961 Available at:
  9. Legal Education;

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