Guest of Honour address on occasion of Inaugural function of Gujarat Bar Council Advocates Academy in association with Gujarat National Law University, Gandhiangar, Saturday, 12 September 2009
Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court Hon Justice Mr Radhakrishnan, Hon Justice Mr Mohit Shah, Hon Minister Mme Anandiben Patel, Hon Minister Shri Amit Shah, Advocate General Mr Kamal Trivedi, members of the bench of the Gujarat High Court and the Judiciary at large, distinguished guests and most importantly all dear members of the Bar Council of Gujarat
On behalf of the GNLU, I extend you the most warm welcome greetings.
‘As long as I live, so long do I learn’
- Sri Ramakrishna had said.
It fills my heart with unspeakable joy to address this audience in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given me. It is an immense pleasure for me to be here on this august occasion amidst the members of the Bar Council of Gujarat. I will be speaking about and dealing with a very interesting and pertinent topic which concerns the Bar Council Members in today’s changing global scenario. My topic for deliberation today is: “Advantages of having Academic Training Programmes for the Bar Council members and the need for their continuous Legal Education”.
The Bar is indisputably the most crucial and authoritative aspect of a legal system in a country. Its members are the all important carriers of justice. Their work keeps the chariot of our Legal System running continuously. But, for the Chariot to run a long distance efficiently, shouldn’t its horses be fed well and trained well? The horses that drive the chariot to its destination of Justice have to be constantly fed with vitamins in form of training so as to generate awareness and expand their vision for future.
I will be discussing the genesis and the basic necessity of the training programmes for lawyers in our country and the purpose and objectives of the same. I will also be touching upon the social and developmental aspects of such training sessions, the challenges that the Bar is facing and the urgent need for continuous legal education for the members of the Bar.
Now, first let me start with the meaning and genesis of Academic Training Programmes intended for the Bar. Traditionally, University law courses have provided in part, but not all of the necessary training for a career in legal practice. Skills training and learning through experience takes place after prospective lawyers graduate from the University but prior to admission to practice. Only some fortunate law graduates are able to get proper professional training as 'juniors' under some 'senior' and expert advocates. The Bar Council of India has, in a way unsuccessfully tried to conduct professional training programs and establish practical training schools. Now-a-days, we see this miserable state of affairs as to the minimum basic training required for the legal profession. The issue of training lawyers in a multicultural society like ours is a very important aspect which should be included among the activities of the Bar.
Academic Training Programmes are meant to be short and precise programmes intended to train the lawyers regarding the various aspects of the changing legal profession in our country. The objective of such a programme is to enhance the knowledge and the skill of the lawyers and to keep them updated about the various techniques and instruments which are useful in their day to day life. It also can include specific training in emerging areas like Mediation, Arbitration and Conciliation. Litigation is one of the most challenging professions today and a lawyer is expected to hone his skills continuously during his career.
However, such an idea of Academic Training Programmes for the lawyers is not new. The need to provide a better training to young lawyers and to prepare them for a heterogeneous, multi-cultural and a constantly changing society like India is constantly felt by the Supreme Court of India, the Bar Council of India (which is the apex body responsible for education, training and enrolment of lawyers), Judges of the higher and lower judiciary and various agencies involved in judicial and quasi judicial work from the bottom to the top. The need and urgency have been emphasized over the years by the Honourable Justices of the Supreme Court, Justice Krishna Aiyar and Ex Chief Justice P.N. Bhagwati, and the same has been reiterated by another Ex Chief Justice of India, Justice Ahmedi, at various forums. However little has been done during half a century of Indian independence. The ready and regular excuse with all the agencies imparting legal education and all Bar Associations has been the paucity of funds at all levels.
Now, coming to the question of why there needs to be a training programme for the members of the Bar, it should be noted that in India, the Bar Council of India has looked at legal education from a constricted angle which is concerned primarily with professional education. The Bar Council has transferred its prime responsibility of training the young lawyers-graduates to the Indian universities and law colleges which provide only basic, bookish knowledge. The faculties of law in the universities are concerned only with the old traditional curriculum of LLB classes which has little to do with the practical training which is what takes one a long way in his career. This has created a very dismal picture as to the standard of professional legal education in India. The fact that there isn’t any Bar Examination to assess lawyers entering the Bar aggravates the situation. This, in turn has created a very desperate need to train the lawyers who are being inducted in to the Bar with specific skill training and efficiency training, so that they can serve the Bar more effectively. Basically, the system of legal education in India over the years has inevitably brought up the need to provide serious academic training to member of the Bar regularly.
There is also a social aspect to these training programmes. When we talk of modernizing legal education, we are conceiving the lawyers' role not only in the court-room, but outside as well. A lawyer is an 'architect of social structures.' We must look at the law and the profession in the social, regional, national and even international context. India is a country with its own innumerable problems. It is overpopulated, it is overwhelmingly rural and it is full of the under-privileged, exploited mendicants. The type of legal education will have to take account of our contemporary problems and the needs of the society, in order that it may really be socially relevant. Legal process must be looked at as a social process. Elements of Law and Social Change, Enforcement and Protection of Human Rights, Law and Industrial Development, Law and Agricultural Development, International Development Law, Law and Poverty, Law and Society, Discrimination against Women, Legal Problems of the Scheduled Tribes, and such other subjects have to be kindled into the Bar by such training programmes.
The continuous and regular process of training the Bar will also in the long run help in the disposal of the huge backlog of cases in our courts. Till date, there are more than three crore cases pending in the various courts of Gujarat. The Bar consists of thousands of lawyers who need to understand that the Court functions to help the citizens to get justice and not to hinder the process of obtaining justice. The traditional mindset of the lawyers needs to be altered. The lawyers have to offer their blood, toil, tears and sweat towards the cause of Justice. The Bar should not result into a stagnant lump; rather it should act as an instrument whose constant endeavour should be to evolve itself into a dynamic body and hence increase the standards and benchmarks of the legal system in our country. It is for the common man to sustain his faith in the present legal system so as to enable the chariot of Justice to benefit everyone and serve the purpose of its very existence.
A competent, co-operative and erudite bar is essential for an efficient management of cases in courts. There are serious concerns about an apparent decline in lawyer professionalism and its effect on public confidence in the legal profession and the justice system. Academic Training programmes will assist and facilitate the growth of professionalism, leadership and coordination and improving lawyer competence among the members of the Bar.
Proper investments should be made so as to provide the Bar with the right ignition from where on, it can pave its way to its ultimate goal. It takes more fuel for a rocket to fly the first 6,000 kms from the earth’s surface, than it does to travel the rest of the distance to the moon.
The training sessions will play an important role in evaluating the contemporary needs of the legal community with respect to lawyer professionalism and coordinating the activities of the bench, the bar, and the system of legal education in meeting those needs and to make special efforts, which should, inter alia, include correlating the needs of the legal profession and to identify issues, assess trends and set a coherent and coordinated direction for the profession. Such a Continuing Legal Education programme together with substantive programmes on professionalism and competence which, inter alia, encourages components on legal practice and office management skills, including office management technology and teaches methods to prevent and avoid malpractices and unethical or unprofessional conduct and the consequences of failing to prevent and avoid such conduct. The sessions will also focus on language management skills which seek to include preciseness and brevity in arguments.
We also cannot forget the changing nature of our legal system today. Law is said to be a dynamic concept. Every now and then, we see constantly changing laws in our society. Ignorance is the breeding ground for fear, malice and failure. For example, we are having a new tax code soon. There have been important changes in the Criminal Procedure Code and Limited Liability Partnership Act also. It is likely that not all of us are quite aware of such recent changes in the erstwhile law and such training sessions will enlighten them and enrich them on the recent developments on the various aspects of the law. This is a very important objective of academic training programmes and such sessions will keep the lawyers up to date on their knowledge of the law.
Also, the training sessions which will mainly be conducted by the academicians in the field of law, will not necessarily be a one-way lecture sermon. As the training session enables the academician to impart various skills and knowledge concepts to the lawyers, he in turn is informed about the ground realities and problems the lawyers face in the Courts. Such an information sharing session will always provide a platform for problem discussion and solution implementation.
All the above factors surely indicate that there is the necessity of Continuous legal training and education for lawyers and the members of the Bar. The lawyers should change their mindset and have a receptive attitude which will help them equip themselves with tools for self development and society development. I conclude by reiterating that we need to have effective Academic Training Programmes regularly throughout the year. This should be one of the most important activities of the Bar Council. The profession of Litigation demands the latest know how and there is no dearth of knowledge in this field. The members of the Bar need to keep learning and enriching themselves continuously.
If I may also use this opportunity to give a very brief overview of the GNLU. The GNLU is aiming to become a world class law university and our 35 full-time faculty and 850 students drawn from 24 Indian states are working with full commitment and motivation. While currently, we are located in temporary premises, in not so distant future, we shall have our own campus spread in 50 acres of land with state-of-art conference, moot, classroom, boarding and lodging, sports facilities and the first legal museum of the country. I am sure individuals and institutions in India and abroad will be looking for the GNLU invitation. We thank the Gujarat Government, Members of the High Court of Gujarat, Justice Shri Mohitbhai Shah, Kalpesh Zaveri, Shri Dave, Registrar-General Shri Pradeep Bhatt, for their support in getting us there.
To live up to our working motto, namely, motivated staff and committed students to provide best private and public legal services to the nation and the world at large, our first of students have graduated and second batch is on its way to serve the mission. If I can fulfil partially a role of salesman, then I request the august gathering here to provide your full support with regards to our internship and recruitment of our students. You will find the GNLU students equipped with excellent skills, updated knowledge, professional competence, integrity and efficiency. Ethics and values are inculcated in them from day one, hence, they will serve the profession with fine distinction. Focus on the integrated legal advisory service is the concept which has been taught to them and hence can become most reliable associates of any advocate of the country. GNLU would like to become a role-model university and is heralding in real sense public-private partnerships with all stakeholders. Introduction of a wide range of courses, various projects assisting directly the stakeholders, introduction of performance management appraisal system, establishment of centres of excellence in sports, food security, environment, investment, family law, initiation of best faculty awards at national level, are some of our 2009 initiatives. Last but not the least, we believe that the NLUs are created not only to produce good lawyers who serve the corporate and legal firms, which has become a trend, but also to build capacity of all law colleges which produce lawyers who serve the judiciary at the grass root levels. In this regard, we have initiated a concerted and coordinated programme to enhance the capacity of law colleges of Gujarat.
Our ongoing training course on mediation helps “law-interpreters”, the media and law training will help in “law dissemination” and the training course on legislative drafting next month will help the “law-makers”. We try to make sure that each and every program and activity fits in such a holistic framework. We hope that these initiatives will enable us to provide solid contribution to the legal infrastructure of the country which is needed to achieve our vision of India a developed nation by 2020. I also take this opportunity to express deep gratitude, on behalf of the GNLU and on my own behalf, to Justice Mr Radhakrishnan, Justice Mme Doshit, Justice Mr Mohit Shah, Mr Kalpesh Zaveri, Mr Dave, Rtd. Justice Mr S. M. Soni, Advocate-General Mr Kamal Trivedi, Chairman of Bar Council of Gujarat Mr Vijay Patel, member of the Bar Council of Gujarat Mr Gopinath Amin, Prof Umakant Pandit, who are source of our continuous inspiration and guidance. GNLU considers itself so privileged that every office, be it the office of the Hon Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi or the Office of the Hon Chief Justice Shri Radhakrishnan, remains always helpful in our efforts to excel in legal education, research, training and extension activities.
Our inspirational former President, Dr. Abdul Kalam in his book ‘Ignited Minds’ charted a detailed vision for India by the year 2020 as a political superpower; a forerunner in technology, innovation and research; a young knowledge economy.
Martin Luther King Jr., once famously said ‘I have a dream’ – four words which changed the American socio-political landscape forever. I stand before you today and dare to say and mind you, believe that I have a dream too – that by the year 2020, the Indian legal and judiciary profession will achieve a pinnacle so high wherein it will be a world leader in –
Providing professional legal services based on high standards of ethics and values;
Providing apt judicial guidance to the policy-makers to sustain India’s trajectory on high growth ;
Rendering effective and efficient assistance to needy masses, and;
A pioneer in pronouncing reasoned judgments in new emerging areas of laws which will provide wisdom and guidance to the entire world.
And shall thus awaken and empower the sleeping giant that we call India.
Thank you and best wishes to you all.
I end by aptly quoting what Swami Vivekananda has said:-
“Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in Man”
Bimal N. Patel