Legal Training: The Missing Link
– By Ojasvita Srivastava
In India, the concept of a structured legal training for lawyers is absent. Any legal practitioner would agree that legal training is absolutely essential despite acquiring an LLB. A degree does not equip one enough to practice as a lawyer. Indian law students depend heavily on internships to learn about the profession. However, neither the quality nor the duration of these internships are monitored.
The Supreme Court in the case of State of Maharashtra v. Manubhai Pragaji Vashi, (1995) 5 SCC 730 had observed that “the need for a continuing and well organised legal education, is absolutely essential reckoning the new trends in the world order…”. In cognizance of this, the government of India launched Rajiv Gandhi Adhivakta Prashikshan Yojna (RG Advocates Training Scheme) in 2011. The main objective of this Scheme is to give two months training to young lawyers practicing in lower Courts, so that they may serve the need of law professionals at the grass root level. This scheme selects 10 young lawyers from each state every year. Not only is that grossly insufficient, but also this scheme is limited in its scope as it targets lawyers at the grass root level. It does nothing to ensure proper legal training for all lawyers entering the Bar.
In the west, lawyers need to undertake a specific period of legal training before they can enter the profession. Upon completion of this training, the students need to clear an examination. Unlike in India, simply qualifying the Bar exam does not entitle them a sanad. Many Law firms and law chambers in the west have developed their own training methods called training contracts and pupillages that train young graduates during this training period. During the training, the students work for the firm/chamber and are compensated well. Only a handful of Indian law firms have developed such a training module. Further, there is absolutely no structured training for young lawyers joining the Bar directly. Young law graduates join a practicing lawyer to learn court craft, while being meagerly compensated. Many such lawyers bring disrepute to the profession for their lack of knowledge and expertise in law.
Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop a lawyers’ training program so as to standardize the training of future lawyers. Achieving this is critical to ensuring that lawyers’ attain a minimum level of legal knowledge and advocacy skills before they take on the responsibilities associated with representing clients before the courts. Additionally, the training plan has to be designed to increase public confidence in the legal system by setting clear ethical standards for the practice of law. Project Abhimanyu encourages law firms to develop training programmes and would be happy to work with any firm that would like to develop its own training programme. To discuss this further, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.