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Analysing Legal Practice in India and future of Indian Legal Profession

In contemporary legal India, it is critical to obtain a deeper understanding of the pre-existing structure of Legal Practice in India. As we begin to explore post-1991 change we also need to understand the impact of Liberalisation, Privatisation, and mainly Globalisation (LPG)1 towards law practice in India. Law practice mainly litigation and corporate law firms both have a significant impact on India's socio-economic as well as political structure. As written before about deeper understanding, such understanding not only provides the context of the topic, theme, or purpose but also assist in constructing a relatively common factual or analytical base. This analytical and deep understanding shared by many of the legal dignitaries which can be found common helps to understand and interpret the law in a better way.

In light of the introduction part, this research project includes five truncated chapters:

Part I: Pre-Independence India which examines the early development of the legal profession in India as in the Mughal empire. A profession of pleaders (vakils) emerged at that time who is appointed by a government to represent them in a court of law.

Part II: discusses the impact of the advent of the British East India Company as they developed its own courts and law firms that served British clients (whose business interest was enlarging in India).

Part III: examines the developments following India's Independence (1947-1991). As India gain Independence it controlled and organized the legal system of the country in interests of Indians. This contains the Establishment of Bar Council of India (BCI) and bona fide decision of shifting the apex court(Supreme Court) from London, England to Delhi, India.

Part IV: discusses the first decade of the New Economic Policy (NEP), 1991-2000 and 2000-current. This era is important for the development of legal education and the widening of law firms in India. It saw the growth of National Law Schools and further economic developments as restrictions on foreign exchange was relaxed. From the year 2000 to the present. India observed the global interaction of Indian law firms and their developments. These developments led to the increasing demand for lawyers and the need to train law students in National Law Schools.

Part V: summarises the dynamic future of the Indian Legal Profession2 after interaction of Indian law firms and their clients, their employees3 direct exposure to US and UK.

Law In Pre-Independence India

Till the mid-1700 for three hundred years, Justice has been speedy and conciliated, mostly will call: settlement at that time was quick. Although this period witnessed disruption on many fronts there is also substantial evidence that economic growth was robust and the operation of a judicial system was powerful. The Mughal Empire ruled over large parts of India that mandated proper judicial functioning and pleadings of the common people. The Mughal maintained both secular and clerical beliefs.

But in specific matter those were non-believers of Islamic law, for example, Hindus, Christians they had to resolve their disputes under Hindu and Christian Law. In villages, there was a structure called Panchayat as a rule of law which was based on caste. Rural or local matters were resolved through socio-religious customs. There was not much intervention from Mughal on the application and usages of local customs.

Mughal has their own decision-making authority those were called qazis but corruption emerged, that's another thing. As a disputant, people could have a representative to file your petition or argument and present it. This was done before a local decision-making body which can be called the court in English but as the Persian language was prevalent at that time so it was called Durbar. Coming to the language point, Persian was mandatory at that time to become a Vakils.

After 1826 English replaced Persian as a court language, as jury bill for India was passed by both houses of the parliament (house of commons and the house of lords) presented by Raja Ram Mohan Roy. This bill was the historic and incessant work of Raja Ram Mohan Roy which was signed by Hindus and Mohammedans. Although Vakils in the mid-17th century or in the 16th century may not always be trained and skillful, they understood the local issues that are political, judicial, and administrative.

Also, a right to appear and present at a court at that time particularly now we will call this as locus standi4 was based on kinships and caste. So, the need and quality of the first generation lawyer (then Vakil) was also prevalent. Justice chambers were called Adaalat Khaana and as written before it was represented or assisted to Mughal emperors by qazi. At the time of Jahangir, (son of Akbar), William Hawkins, said for him that (Jahangir) Indian Emperor sat every day for Justice. Nicholas Withington observed that Emperor Jahangir sat in his Durbar at Agra three times a day for justice.

Advent And Impact Of British On India (1757-1947)

As the Mughal Empire was weakened by emerge of the British East India Company, they strengthen their economic power by external trade. The impact started with the advent of the British, Portuguese, and French at the beginning of the 17th century. The major impact was from Britishers whose company reigned from 1757 to 1857 before the sepoy mutiny spark given by Mangal Pandey. In 1754, �As the Royal troops arrived in India, the terms of the Mutiny Act and the Articles of War made applicable to Company's military forces5.

The result of Plassey, in 1757, paved the way for the British conquest of Bengal and eventually the whole of India. The need for the law authority in the three jurisdictions which were presidencies at that time (Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras). In 1772 Warren Hasting laid the foundation for two types of judicial administration: 1) Mofussil or District Court 2) Sadar or Provincial court6. The company established its own provincial and appellate courts for resolving the civil as well as criminal courts.

In 1773, Regulating Act established for the first time, the Supreme Court of Fort Williams in Calcutta 1774, consisting of the Chief Justice and three judges (later reduced to two) appointed by the Crown acting as King's court7. Sir Elija Impey was appointed as the first chief justice of the court of Calcutta. Coming to the litigation at that time, As written in Introduction about the development of two pleaders: vakils and British Barristers8, this was still prevalent in forms of administrative institutions by Mughal empire and was continued by British. �For the first time, the regular legal profession of vakils and other native pleaders was created�9 in (Schmitthener 1968-1969).

A large population of vakils and attorneys10 were involved in trial courts or adjudications. Before the 1857 revolt the Bengal regulations, 1793 and 1833, The Legal Practitioners Act, 1846 was passed. In former (Bengal regulations) as written earlier which was evolved in work of S.W. Schmitthener later in 1968. The Bengal Regulation VII of 1793 was given by Lord Cornwallis. It gave the power to create Sadr Diwani Adalat to enroll advocates for the first time.

This also ensured the quality of the practicing advocates which became more respectable. In the Legal Practitioners Act, 1846 the pleading power was given to the person of whatever nationality or religion and were registered by Sadr Courts. Moreover, the 1846 act permitted barristers and attorneys to be admitted as pleaders in a court of East India Company11.

Post-Sepoy Mutiny Truncated Discussion

As the East India Company reign ended with the revolt of 1857, the British Parliament passed a Government of India act, 1858 which brought British India under its jurisdiction. A new system of courts was established and the Company's court was abolished. Now, there were three kinds of legal practitioners: attorneys, advocates, and vakils (Indian law degree holders, they were the lowest-rank legal practitioners). In the subordinate court there were pleaders, mukhtars, and revenue agents those even don't have a law degree were allowed to practice.
There was also a remarkable change in legal practice.

For example, in 1891, there were only seven Indian advocates out of the twenty-four, and in 1911, out of 250 advocates, 234 were Indians in the Bombay High Court. Many large new firms were also established but they were based on nepotism and many firms were rooted in communities and caste. For instance, Parsis, Marwaris were prevalent at that time.

These developments led to the rise of legal education in India. Now, lawyers were actively involved in the public domain and they played a crucial role in India's Independence movement. For example, Gandhi, Ambedkar, Nehru, Jinnah, Patel were lawyers involved in this, in fact as lawyers they took training from the United Kingdom. At that time this education institution was in need of India. Emerging of the National Law School took place in post-1980. Spark gave fire from the British after 190 years' time and the need, understanding, and way of teaching legal study cherished. This took time as the lawyer's legal education was based on examination not to improve a socially and economically backward society. This abated progress for a long time.

In summarising this two-section, just have to write that the history of the legal profession has seen many struggles at a certain point in time either in the Mughal Empire or British India. A struggle is seen in terms of the beginning of the vakils and pleaders, their recognition, and the analytical interpretation of comprehensive English law, which was applied to conditions in India for the Company's own benefit which also left the certain legal provision and filled the lacuna for India.

Scope Of Development In Law Post-Independence?

After India achieved independence in 1947, there were some key developments in the improvement of the legal and judicial hierarchy in India. First, the government enacted Advocates act in 196112. This abolished the difference between vakils and barrister in India that remained for more than two hundred years. Now, there would be only one class that of an advocate who can practice at any court across India.

Second, the Bar Council of India13 has been constituted, a statutory body under section 4 of the Advocates Act, 1961. At a central level, it was made a primary body responsible for governing, promoting, and providing standards for legal education in India. It also recognized various university whose law degree was contented with the requirements under Advocates Act, 1961 to enroll as an advocate.

The third development was the establishment of the apex court (the Supreme Court of India) in 1950. Before Independence, the court of appeal was in London, United Kingdom. Now, this was created in Delhi. Supreme Court structure was in two key attorneys, first the advocates-on-record (AoR) which was different from advocates and it was inclined towards the public service.

There is a certain procedure to work as an advocate-on record such as Supreme Court practice experience, one year trained under senior advocate, and then exam conducted by the apex court. These developments brought focus on practicing advocates in Delhi, also because now apex court was in Delhi. Compared to AoR, senior advocates are more influential and have more earnings than AoR. Few highly reputed lawyers like Prashant Bhushan, Harish Salve not only charge per hour hearing fee but also appearance fee. Most litigation advocates do this for substantial earnings.

On Legal Education: In 1958 Law university adopted 3 years law program and in only 1967 they started following procedural subjects of 3-year law courses. Finally, in 1986 5 years integrated law program was adopted. And India's first National Law School that is the National Law School of India University was the first one to offer this course. But there was still a lacuna in the average quality of attorneys till the mid-1990s. For instance, the estimated number of attorneys increased from 88,000 to 450,000 but due to the delays in work and the court structure many left this career. Even some brightest and excellent lawyers took career besides law, this leads to dropping in the average quality of lawyers before 1990.

Developments Post-1990 (New Economic Policy)

The impact of Liberalisation had a considerable influx of foreign capital into India. This leads to new contractual agreements and acquisitions which led to the rise in demand for lawyers for complex deals with mergers and acquisitions. Over time, the government began to remove the industrial licensing system and new sectors were more open for private companies, and other things impacted like liberalizing FDI norms and trade.

One suggestion I can infer from the license system presently is that Lawyers should renew their license every year, not every 5 years, which is mandated by the Bar Council of India. This will help in improving records and exclude fake or counterfeit lawyers.

Coming to the 1990s, through Globalisation there was free movement of lawyers between the two countries. This enables the free exchange of ideas and practice. �Access to foreign legal materials has become much easier on account of the development of information and communication technology. Until a few years ago, subscriptions to foreign law reports and law reviews were quite expensive and hence beyond the reach of most judges, practitioners, and educational institutions. However, the growth of the internet and globalization has radically changed the picture. The decisions of most Constitutional Courts are uploaded on freely accessible websites�14.

Globalization has also improved the quality of legal education as integrated with global universities. A new curriculum and ideas have been adopted. At a ground level, there was a fundamental difference in the upheaval of the legal profession in India that is the countless interaction between the local legal environment and the global constraint to study and profess.

On Litigation
As there was global interaction of lawyers, attorneys, solicitors, new cases emerged inside India as well as outside India. Liberalization was based on reciprocal relationship15. There was the elimination of barriers to enter into contract and involvement in economic activity. Resolution of national and international disputes by sharing law new knowledge, experience, and strategies. Privatization of government firms leads to involving new entrants and new capability. This also resolved the already overburdened courts in India.

Increased work in litigation 17 demanded increase fees in the field of constitutional law, real estate, commercial matters, tax law. Other government advocates also benefited those who deal with inheritance, inter-union, and state disputes. Indeed, the higher opportunities, new entrants, and integration lead to increase demand in litigation and arbitration which improved the quality and expenses of lawyers.

Legal Education And Development Till Incumbent

As simultaneously, there was a growing trend of the legal profession in India post-(LPG), there was also pressure on legal education in India to help to maintain this trend. BCI took steps to reform national law schools in India. Followed by the first national law school in India that is NLSIU, Bangalore, and also the rising population of 5 years integrated law course gave to construct the next level of national law schools. Currently, that are NALSAR Hyderabad, NLU Delhi, WBNUJS Kolkata, NLIU Bhopal, NLU Jodhpur, GNLU Gandhinagar, HNLU Chattisgarh, and other 16 national law schools. In this list, NLUs was established in the 1990s and 2000s.

The advantage and output of this law school were that It expanded the quality of the corporate sector, litigation, and judiciary. Overall, students admitted into these law schools through national level exams such as CLAT and AILET. So, this created more competition further in law schools for improving the quality of lawyers in general and specifically both. This focuses my attention on the general and specific fields in practice. Will further deal with conclusions and suggestions about this.

�The growth of the legal profession has been impressive, but we should not lose touch with ground realities�

Indeed, there has been development in legal education and profession, 23 national law schools established18 according to MHRD. Also, Private schools like Jindal Global Law School (JGLS) and Symbiosis law school (SLS) have entered into offering global legal education. So, here arises one question of public or private legal institution choice and economic potential to enter in these colleges, even to go through the process to enter into it. Although there are certain legal reforms and developments but ground realities issue persists till now.

Future Of Indian Legal Profession

In general the idea of improving society with the rule of law. To ensure equitable distribution, early justice to all and till the last person standing to extricate feeling of hatred or anything in mind which causes harm to individual and society till then the use of the rule of dynamic law will prevail.

In specific judiciary in the legal profession is the independent tool which should not be harmed by corruption, nepotism that is why the need of the first-generation lawyer is necessary who has not any support of his family in law and have to struggle to do a job as a lawyer and that struggle will ultimately give something to society in general practice that may be in defending the victims of atrocities or in the specific field may be in a corporate firm, cyber law, commercial matter or both and that is the point need of both general and specific is mandatory in the world particularly in India. There are discussions and promises to reform in prior government and present government. We are still waiting for the great anticipation.

Conclusion And Suggestions
Law has a limitation in India depends on politics and socio-economic pressure. Social engineering19, as well as economic, politics is a prerequisite.

All suggestions are personal (except II):
For legal practice as written in developments, the license of a lawyer should be renewed every year rather than every five years to maintain the quality as well as the authenticity of the legal profession.

The curriculum should be updated according to the need of the current legal issues which is prevalent in Indian Society (suggested by Honourable Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman).
Private and Public legal institutions should be recognized globally and give facilities equally so that from the bottom, the middle and upper sections can study together with no social and economic burden.

New Law must be created which is the need of the dynamic science and technology and growth of the day-to-day routine and futuristic approach for overall development.
In India, there is a scarcity of in-depth and analytical research that should be promoted at a local and large scale.

  1. Arpita Gupta, V.S.K., David B. Wilkins, The Indian Legal Profession in the Age of Globalisation V.S.K. David B. Wilkins, David M. Trubek Editor., Cambridge University Press p. 40.
  2. Gandhi, B.M., Legal language, legal writing & General English Eastern Book Company p. 42.
  3. Often the employees have studied or worked in the united states or the united kingdom.
  4. the right or capacity to bring an action or to appear in a court.
  5. Rao, Y.S. Judicial System before 1947 [cited 2020 19th December]; Available from:
  6. Misra, A., Judicial reforms of Warren Hastings and the advent of Adalat System. ipleaders, June 28, 2018.
  7. Anwar, S. GK Questions and Answers on the development of the judicial system during British India. Available from:
  8. Barrister is a legal practitioner whose main function is to practice his advocacy in court.
  9. The Bengal Regulations VII of 1793 also regulated legal fees and appointment of government pleaders among other matters. It addressed licensing and disciplining of the non-barrister egal professional (e.g. vakils); Arpita Gupta, V.S.K., David B. Wilkins, The Indian Legal Profession in the Age of Globalisation V.S.K. David B. Wilkins, David M. Trubek Editor., Cambridge University Press p. 40.
  10. Attorney is a law degree holder who represents his/her clients in court and can practice in one or more states.
  11. Gandhi, B.M., in Legal language, legal writing, and general English Eastern Book Company p. 33.
  12. Arpita Gupta, V.K., David Wilkins, in The Indian legal profession in the age of globalization Cambridge University Press. p. 47.
  13. Id at 47.
  14. Kumar, S. Impact Of Globalisation On Legal Education In India. [cited 2020 20th December]; Available from:
  15. When two people mutually act for benefit of each other.
  16. Arpita Gupta, V.S.K., David B. Wilkins, Overview of Legal Practice in India and the Indian Legal Profession in The Indian Legal Profession in the age of globalisation V.S.K. David B. Wilkins, David M. Trubek, Editor., Cambridge University Press. p. 52
  17. Id at 52.
  18. National Institutional Ranking Framework. June 2020 [cited 2020 20th December]; Available from:
  19. It uses psychological manipulation to divulge sensitive information, valuable or manipulate others to do security mistakes and human error through interactions.

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Pragyanshu Gautam
, a first-year student at Hidayatullah National Law University

Awarded certificate of Excellence
Authentication No: DE32376145623-28-1220

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