- Dr. Prem Kumar Gautam
Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow
The legal profession as it exists in India today had its beginning in the earlier years of British rule. The most talented and bright among the Indians were attracted to the study and practice of law. The legal professionals dominated the public life of the country and played a prominent role in the national struggle for freedom. Law profession produces so many great leaders who not only fought for the freedom of the country but also fought against the social discrimination and bad practices prevalent in the society.
We live in a society in which everyday life is touched by legal regulation more than at any other period of history. One of the many ways in which human societies can be distinguished from animal groups is by reference to social rules. Legal rules are especially significant in the world of business, politics, administration, human rights, conflict of laws issues, international disputes and intercountry disputes including public and private.
The law is a great profession and it offers greater and more varied opportunities perhaps than any other profession. It is perhaps most significant social institution for the settlement of disputes and it contains within its rules and procedures means whereby infringement of the law, from the trivial to the most serious can be dealt with.
In the contemporary time legal professionals should try to promote the legal culture in the country. Here I would like to quote Dr. Ambedkar who said in this article “Thoughts on the Reform of Legal Education in the Bombay Presidency” “The problem of overcrowding of legal profession must be separated from the problems of legal education. It would be indefensible both from the stand-point of education and also from the stand –point of social justice to frame a scheme of legal education on a basis which would make legal profession the preserve of the few. From the educationist point of view the study of law requires a study of certain other auxiliary subjects without which the study of law alone would be incomplete equipment for the practice of the profession.”
Connection between law and other subject of humanities in India including literature are ultimately about social justice and human rights. Most of the renowned universities in the world including Oxford, Harvard, Cambridge and Australian universities providing scholarship for talented and bright students for higher studies in law. International organizations like United Nations and Red Cross and Amnesty International preferring law graduate for the job and social service. Law is for them a mission rather a subject for the job.
National law universities/schools are established to promote legal education with social justice. Students are studying not only law subjects but also sociology, history economics and political science. Though the aim of law schools was to produce law professionals who can go in corporate sector but scenario has been changed and many law graduates of the NLUs are joining government services, they are becoming judges, prosecutors, doing social services, going abroad for higher education and joining academics etc.
Now, what I think legal profession is not limited to advocacy or judgeship only. A law graduate has more options beyond these opportunities. A law graduate can make his career in academics, bank, NGO, international organization; law firms and social advocacy and he/she can become politicians too. Most of the successful politicians are law graduate. Apart from these career options there are some other options also available like legal executive, Para legal volunteers etc.
A law graduate has a different status as compared to non-law graduate. We can say that a law graduate has a legal mind to think legally and act accordingly. A law graduate can bring the change in the society and can fight for the rights of the weaker section of society. A law graduate can promote the fundamental values enshrined in our constitution like equality, religious freedom, justice, fraternity and liberty. For this a passion is required. We all nurture a passion but few translate it into an action. An action driven by passion can transform lives.
In the present scenario the role of law profession is significant. People, societies and countries are not fighting in the battle ground but fighting in the court of law through the legal means. Here I can say that every future war would be in the court and not on the ground.
The role of legal fraternity is also important in legal profession. In addition to their teaching duties, law teachers are active in conducting research and publishing their research finding in almost all areas of law in the country. We can see their contribution in so many landmark judgments of the Supreme Court, where court cited the articles of renowned intellectuals belongs to law field. The work of local and overseas legal academics are cited in the courts and referred to in judgments.
Academicians can play an important role in the development of the law. The written and published opinions of the academics on the law, what it is, and what it should be- collectively referred to as the doctrine- is an important, though not binding, and source of law. It is therefore important to have a lively legal academic community in a democratic country.
Comments of law teachers are sometimes highly critical to the government. But the constitution of the country protects the autonomy and academic freedom of educational institutions and the protection is extended to cover teaching staff employed by the institutions. Rule of law should be followed by everyone.
Law is a way of life, not merely one’s career. It is perhaps, the sole profession (besides medicine of course) which is inevitably applied and verily utilized by each and every person at some point of time in their lives. Whether a lawyer or not, one inexorably does come across this field in its variant forms, be it a relative’s property dispute, a family member embroiled in a civil litigation, a stark case of corporate fraud or an unfortunate series of criminal trials. It is thus, significant to comprehend and appreciate the law, not merely because it is one’s career, but a knowledge based skill that may be ubiquitously and pragmatically used by one and all.
Law has always been a principled profession, since lawyers have always endorsed and strived for a better and peaceful society. Lawyers have indeed proved to be the true beacon light bearers for people. For instance, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak who roared Swaraj is my birth-right fought his own case in a British Court that accused him of sedition. Mahatma Gandhi, yet another lawyer, determined independent India’s future and destiny. Justice Krishna Iyer in one of his judgements emphatically has opined “Law is not a trade, not briefs, not merchandise, and so the heaven of commercial competition should never vulgarize the legal profession.” He believes the underlying ethos of the legal profession is the service to society, akin that of a doctor. In other words, the principal aim of law is to protect citizens from social diseases. Hence, it is essential to persistently ruminate upon the aim of the law, especially as a young budding lawyer, should you wish to excel in this field.
Today, law as a preferred choice of career has found sudden colossal success, especially with Indian law schools churning over 3.5 lacs law graduates per year, as per the data made available by the University Grants Commission. However, not all law graduates make respectable lawyers. Only a selected few are able to ascent the ladder of success which is encumbered with cut throat competition, outstanding legal knowledge and professional acumen. Charles Darwin says, it is only the fittest that survive. In other words, only those survive and subsequently, succeed for whom the law is their passion and not merely their career. Passion ought to be the north-star in the constellation of a lawyer’s career universe. That to me is another innate quality of survival, found in almost all promising lawyers of India.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh and others v. L.V.A. Dixitulu and Others highlighted that the law is a living, integrated organism having a soul and consciousness of its own and its pulse beats, emanating from the spinal cord of its basic framework, and can be felt all over its body, even in the extremities of its limbs. Through its dynamic and purposive interpretative approach, the judiciary strives to breathe life into the law and not render it a collection of mere dead letters. Lawyers, as society’s catalytic agents have the potential to enable and urge the Courts and law to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances without losing their identity. In other words, practising the law is not merely a career choice but a community outreach programme undertaken for life because law is the legal expression of a society’s moral, political and economic ideology.
Besides passion, patience and hardwork illustrate and illuminate the hallmarks of an able lawyer. As a career choice, the law makes all of us question, on a daily basis “What, Where, When and How”. This critique ability enables lawyers to adapt to the ever-changing needs and sociological developments taking place in the society. The role of lawyers in realizing the evolving nature of this living instrument called the law is undoubtedly the embryonic cognitive which makes it worthwhile for me to deliberate with you in much greater detail, its charms and challenges.