BCI chair Gopal Subramaniam interview (part 2): Foreign firms only once Indian lawyers 'reclaim business' | Interviews | Legally India |

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The Bar Council of India (BCI) has been pivotal in the debate on the entry of foreign law firms. The Solicitor general and newly elected BCI chairman Gopal Subramaniam tells Legally India about what has to happen before foreign lawyers can practice here.

Legally India (LI): What is your take on the entry of foreign lawyers in India?
Gopal Subramaniam (GS): I think the issues are a little more complex and they may have a bearing on our democracy. Now, if say the entry of the foreign lawyers is necessary because of their expertise to deal with commercial matters, we have no less [expertise].

We are going to work on improving our skills and making sure that we are the best. And in fact what we have to do is really reclaim the business, which has even gone out of India, which we have lost out to other jurisdiction on account of adverse publicity of the Indian legal system.

And I say this very consciously that the Indian lawyer has to reclaim his business which has gone out. I think we need to first get it back. We need to be on a level playing field.

The second thing is the element of reciprocity - I think this is very important unless there is reciprocity there is no question of any further consideration.

LI: What do you mean by reciprocity? Many Indian lawyers are practicing abroad.
GS: Indian lawyers do not practice there because they are Indian lawyers. They practice there when they qualify to practice there under their rules. Reciprocity means if I allow you to practice here then you allow me to practice there.

But having said that let us understand how many actually can go and establish a law office in New York or London? See the kind of expenses which are involved for setting up the office there.

So we must understand that there are many issues which will have to be internally debated. Therefore I must say that at this juncture our profession has to be first looked upon.

Our legal community will be looked upon as an important resource base. We have to preserve the Indian lawyer - if we don’t preserve the Indian lawyer, it can have telling implications on the democracy.

Anything else can be considered later but at this stage I think the task before us is reorganising ourselves as capable, efficient lawyers at all levels.

I am talking about every lawyer in the trial court as fellow brethren, I am talking at all levels in all places. You have to bring about uniformity. You have to bring about high quality.

LI: In simple words, you are not in favour of the entry of foreign lawyers?
GS: At this stage I am not in favour of entering of foreign lawyers. This is without any doubt.


Moily's 2nd generation education reforms: transactional law LLBs, new unified law school entrance test

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The Union Government has announced a 'National Consultation' to radically overhaul Indian legal education, which will include the introduction of a common admission test for all Indian law schools, three new super-specialised LLBs focusing on transactional, litigation or public law as well as shortening LLM courses to one year.

The major proposals include the creation of an entrance test that will apply to all law colleges in India, rather than just to national law schools like the Common Law Admissions Test (CLAT). The Government also wants to create three separate LLB programmes that specifically focus on training transactional, litigation or public lawyers, as well as to introduce a new one-year LLM degree.

Law minister Veerappa Moily, additional solicitor general Mohan Parasaran and Moily's special adviser T K Vishwanathan announced the radical reform plans at a press conference in Delhi today (21 April). Moily said that the law ministry was collaborating with the Bar Council of India (BCI) and National Law University Delhi to organise a National Consultation for a "second generation" of reforms in Indian legal education.

He explained that the consultation would create a road map to bring radical institutional reforms in legal education to meet not only the requirements of the bar but also the needs of trade, commerce and industry in view of the growing internationalisation of the legal profession. Moily said: "Our aim is to focus on legal education as an instrument of economic and social architecture. The aim of this National Consultation is that the advocate in a Munsif court can have access to a system of continuing legal education and he can aspire to appear before the Supreme Court."

Additional solicitor general Parasaran added that the Government was also proposing three specialised LLB courses, to enable students to focus on either of litigation, transactional or public law. "The syllabus in most of the law colleges is more than 20 years old and is not relevant to present-day requirements," said Parasaran. "Reforms are the need of the hour. We propose to have a common law entrance test for all the colleges across India just like we have a common entrance test for national law colleges."

Parasaran also announced that India would have a one-year LLM course, just as countries such as the US and UK. "The change has been proposed and the decision to this effect shall be taken in near future," he said. Parasaran continued: "There is a proposal to establish a National Council for quality and standards of legal education. Experts from all the fields, namely Bar Council of India, state Bar Councils, attorney general, solicitor general and various jurists and academicians shall prescribe the syllabus for the law colleges."

Moily also supported a compulsory entrance test to become a lawyer, mirroring the proposal by the new Bar Council of India chairman Gopal Subramaniam. "We are working in tandem with Bar Council of India and we support the proposal," said Moily. He also said hat in an era of globalisation there was a need to raise the standards of legal education in India. "The domain of the Indian lawyer shall be the entire world and not only this country." Moily also expressed concern over the fact that most law students joined the corporate sector after completing their degrees. One of the issues before the National Consultation would be why students from national law schools seemed to prefer careers in corporate law firms and how the legal education system could cater to the emerging needs of the new economy.

The National Consultation would also examine how to organise training and education for alternate dispute resolution systems, particularly arbitration. The National Consultation first meeting will be held on 1 and 2 May 2010, said Moily, and would be inaugurated by India's prime minister Manmohan Singh, with Moily presenting a vision document on the India's second generation of legal reforms. When asked about the issue of entry of foreign lawyers at today's press conference, Moily said that the Bombay High Court had already decided on the issue and the Government would deal with the issue at an appropriate stage after consultation with all the sectors on the issue.


Source:- Legally India

Law School Outreach Programme in Kerala

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NUJS Kolkata professor Shamnad Basheer has begun a pilot project to increase access to the legal profession to those from poorer backgrounds, seeking to grow it into a mass movement with funding and involvement from lawyers and students across India. The project has already started in Assam and Bihar. We plan to start the project in Kerala by the second week of June.

The National law schools, widely seen as the pre-eminent legal institutions in India have become increasingly elitist over the years. A variety of factors have contributed to this, including the extremely high fee structures at these institutions, a very difficult entrance examination that now requires extensive and expensive coaching as a pre-requisite, and most importantly, a lamentable lack of awareness about law as a career amongst low income students in small towns, rural areas and other non mainstream institutions. 

The net result is that the current student composition at many of these schools lack any serious diversity and comprise mainly of English medium educated students from middle class or upper middle class families. The numbers from rural areas, small towns or non English speaking schools are deplorable. Apart from this, the composition also suffers from under-representation from the disabled community, minority commmunities, ethnic groups etc. This project therefore seeks to find ways to reach out to “under-represented” groups and help those interested to acquire admission to these law schools. It is hoped that such access to the under-represented would not only empower them and the communities that they represent, but also increase the diversity at law schools and make for a more optimal melting pot of views and perspectives.

For the immediate future, we hope to execute pilot projects in identified areas/schools and identify promising candidates, based inter-alia on aptitude tests. We then guide the selected students, help them through the CLAT process and train them for taking the CLAT exam. CLAT is one of the biggest “access” bottlenecks in so far as candidates from under-represented areas are concerned. Therefore, supporting students to take CLAT is one of the most critical components of this program. We’ve been lucky enough to have several training centres agree to give us materials free of cost for distribution. Apart from this, we will impart CLAT training through online educational platforms.

Since many students would have come from non English speaking backgrounds, we plan to administer “English” language training as well. Here again, we would do it through a combination of online and offline modules. Even amongst the students that do well in our aptitude test, we try and select under-represented categories based on gender, ethnic and economic background, so as to provide for an optimally diverse mix. Once under-represented students make it through CLAT, we offer them a full tuition fee waiver, if they fall below a certain income level. Further, we also institute specific scholarships (based on contributions from law firms, alumni and others that believe in this cause) to help students gain stipendiary money as living expenses and to buy books, a laptop etc. We also try and get the law schools to offer some part time jobs in the library etc so they can make some pocket money.

The project will also aim to advertise scholarship programmes, highlight law as a career option,etc. For the success of the programme we need volunteers to help us in all possible ways. You can help us in preparing materials or taking classes or in other ways. You have various options through which you can help us. All those who are really interested in participating in this mass movement; please do let me know at the earliest. Mail me your expression of interest.

With regards,
Raghul Sudheesh
Coordinator
Law School Outreach Programme
Ph:-94473 23332

How not to be inspired-Dedicated to all law students !!!

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This is the experience of a law student which was published in Legally India's website !!!


In 2006, when I was able to score 89% in my 12th boards, I was relieved. I could finally choose what I wanted to study and I chose the law. There was no second option for me. By June I had the choice of joining three top Universities in the country. I chose the one furthest away from home. Being away from home, allowed me to discover the world from a totally different perspective. At home, I was conditioned how to see the world. Here, there was no one to tell me how to interpret what I saw. I could see sin and call it a saint. I could see it rain and still walk like it was summer. What one can do with freedom is absolutely magical.

When I entered law school, I did not know what I would be doing. There really was no one to tell me. I was the only child and both my parents work in the R&D department of a private company. They had very few friends who could me termed as lawyers. So with the freedom I had suddenly come to earn, came the wrath of ignorance. In my search to know what I wanted to do with my life, I heard just one word: Corporate. Everybody was doing corporate law. It was paradise and everybody wanted to go there. My older friends confessed they really knew nothing else. It's what they'd been told and they were giving me the same advice. Everyone was talking about it and soon it was written all over the sky. The messiah had spoken to us. We all knew the holy offices. There was Amarchand, AZB and luthra. Some of us knew a few more names and we were considered to be rockstars.

After nearly five internships with different law firms, I knew this wasn't my calling. Coming in at nine in the morning and sitting on a chair till eleven in the night was not why I chose to study the law. It was only after this that I realised that there were so many other avenues that I was yet to explore or even hear about. It wasn't just my picture that had broken. Even my seniors were having their pictures repainted. One had quit and joined a litigator. He had taken a pay cut of nearly eighty percent. It was for the better, he confided in me. Then there was an associate I knew from my first internship, who has now joined an international think tank. My cousin who had completed her law degree a few years before I joined, quit her corporate job in a company and started an NGO.

There are many successful corporate lawyers. And I know they love their work. However, it isn't for everyone. The problem is that when we enter law school, we don't hear anything other than joining a law firm. Some of us were luckier and got better advice. One of my friends got to know about opportunities for lawyers in international NGOs and interned with many of them from the beginning. Another did a corporate internship and then stuck to interning with lawyers.
Law Schools need to provide students with career counselors. Someone who can tell us about the wider opportunities that await us. We need to provide students with more exposure. One of the ways to do that would be invite speakers from varied backgrounds. Balanced career advice will help people choose a job profile which suits their interests rahter than what is in fashion. The internship office often complains that there are too many applicants for the top law firms. Many settle for lesser and sometimes don't intern because they don't get into a firm. It is easy to get lost in the crowd but ten years from now, I know we'll regret the time we wasted not doing what we love. It's time we took a wider look at the world.

BCI chair Gopal Subramaniam interview (part 1): We need continuing legal education | Interview by Legally India !!

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Solicitor general and newly elected Bar Council of India (BCI) chairman Gopal Subramaniam talks to Legally India about his top priorities, the need for a bar exam and continuing legal education, in this first part of a two-part interview.


Legally India (LI): What are your priorities at the BCI?
Gopal Subramaniam (GS): I think at the moment there are some overwhelming priorities which need to be addressed.

The first thing to do is to evolve various ways and techniques by which the self esteem of those who belong to the profession is raised and to understand their professional roles and changing society.

The second important priority is that we as the legal fraternity have to be connected with each other. We are not adequately connected with each other, we do not communicate with each other as a result of which there is fragmentation of the legal community based on region, based on locality and based on other factors.

We need to work together and for which purpose I think the Bar Council of India must act as a great connector by which we able to reach out to a lawyer who is practicing even in the most far-flung areas of the country.

The third priority is that we need to upgrade our own skills on account of competitive environment. Today, you have large number of people who enter the legal profession and it becomes necessary that we are efficient, competent and transparent so that we would be able to actually have both a prosperous community of the lawyers on the one hand, and at the same time we would be a community which would protect the under-privileged.

LI: Do you think that an entrance test or bar exam is necessary?
GS: I think as of today, the entrance test for becoming a lawyer is necessary. I think it is important that for the benefit of the person who is going to enter the legal profession, he must actually have some basic skills, fundamental knowledge and the ability to cope with other challenges of the modern Indian lawyer, whether he is in the rural area or whether he is in any other area.

We also planned to actually have a resource web in the Bar Council of India which will be a knowledge web where lawyers and law students will have continued access to resources including courses and continuing legal education.

I think continuing legal education along the entrance to the bar is very important. One is those who are going to enter the bar now will have at least an examination, but those who are practicing as a lawyer […] must be persuaded to opt for continuing legal education courses so that they are updated.

One of the problems in the legal profession is that we are not updated with reference to the advances is in law, advances is in technology and advances is in science.

In today’s time, a lawyer has to be as inquisitives as a scientist, he has to discover the facts and for this purpose we want to develop the resource web through the medium of the Bar Council. I think it is a very ambitious project and I have received overwhelming offers of support from professors, academicians in India and overseas who think it is the most important for the Indian legal profession to have a resource web.

LI: Do you think the legal education system in India has failed? Is that why you are looking for an entrance test for lawyers?
GS: The legal education in India is not uniform. There are problems which are confronting our legal education today. There is a shortage of academicians, there are a shortage of people who actually want to teach law as a subject. Now we need to correct the distortion and we need to correct this imbalance.

Now one of the important considerations is that when you want to enter the professional course it is necessarily that you should have the adequate training. So we would like to develop our curriculum by which you have not only basic knowledge of law but you also have practical knowledge of law.

If your ability as commercial lawyer has to be tested, you have to have the skills for it. If you have to protect the fundamental rights of a person who is in the street, you must be able to protect it.

I regret to say that the role models who used to exist in the legal profession who have been able to also carry the momentum in the legal profession - their numbers have decreased. Now to reenergise it is always not possible to only get role models but you will have to do it by means of support through information and through rational development for lawyers.

This is our agenda. This is our priority list, which is that we become a resource pool where people can actually come to us. As the Bar Council, we are also going to interact with sections of civil society because it is important that the legal profession is never perceived as a manipulator of the law and one of the reasons why there has been fall in the esteem of the legal profession is because law is viewed as an instrument of manipulation, an instrument of exploitation as an instrument of being able to harass citizens.

LI: What would be the necessary requirements a student needs to fulfill to become a lawyer? What do you propose to do?
GS: This is going to involve the same consultative process. We are beginning a transparent consultative process with lawyers, with law students and also with academicians, those who are in India and those who are abroad. And I am very happy to say that the community is offering completely free support for this particular movement and I think we should be able to seize these initiative and design the curriculum, make it contemporary, relevant and make it socially useful.

And I think that requires a two way traffic. This will involve a lawyer and it will also involve the support of the judiciary and I am very confident that the judiciary will support this initiative because this is the most dynamic moment of the legal profession.

LI: Can you elaborate on proposals that there may be a mandatory internship before becoming a lawyer?

GS: I personally believe that the apprenticeship and internship with the lawyer is necessary to know court procedure, to understand how to acquire confidence and to be able to know how to conduct oneself as a lawyer.

Now this needs training and commitment from the senior lawyers those who have years of experience to able to teach juniors. So we in the Bar Council are going to appeal to lawyers who have ten years experience to ask them to take juniors as a part of their service in return to the profession

We are also going to appeal the senior advocates to have not less than three to five juniors that are trained. This will have two benefits: one that you train the juniors when they become lawyers, the other is you have mandatory training programs in the law course itself as part of the curriculum.

There I feel that training under the lawyer, preferably practicing with the trial court, should be made mandatory because there is where justice truly commences. And I think the success of any justice system will be always gazed at in terms of the ability of the primary tier to be able to fulfill the aspiration of people.

My dream as a lawyer is that one day in India, we will have a legal system where the competence of the lawyers as well as the judiciary in all the three limbs, whether it be primary, secondary or the appellate level would be equally compatible.

The second part of this interview will be published on Legally India later this week and will include Subramaniam's views on the entry of foreign law firms, reciprocity and striking lawyers.

Transfer of Justice Dinakaran to Sikkim- A Judicial Kalapani ?

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The Supreme Court collegium comprising Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice S.H. Kapadia, Altamas Kabir, R.V. Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari took the decision to transfer Justice Dinakaran after taking into consideration his defiant attitude refusing to abide by the advise to go on leave. This seems to be really awkward. If he is unfit for the post in Karnataka how can he be fit to do the same in Sikkim?? If the CJI cannot force a Chief Justice of a High Court to go on compulsory leave; to pave way for an enquiry; then what is the power of the CJI?

Why should Sikkim have to put up with someone who's considered unfit to serve anywhere else. Is it a judicial "KALAPANI?" And why is this considered a solution for the "piquant" situation - doesn't the law of the land hold true in the whole country. Are the citizens of Karnataka or Delhi more deserving of justice? One of the reason for the collegium's present decision is that only very few cases were being heard in that court, it was felt that Justice Dinakaran could be given judicial work there. What is the logic behind this reasoning? Does it really make any sense? The answer is a big "No" ! 

The Indian Judiciary is going to a point from where it can be hardly saved. This would pave way for a revolution. Instead of correcting its mistakes; its going from one to another. The people have lost faith in the system absolutely. 

Book Review-Law Relating To Electronic Transfer of Money-By M.A. Rashid

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The Payment and Settlement Systems Act 2007 regulates and oversees the various payments and settlement systems in India. In an era of online transactions, this new law is likely to become a hotbed of litigation in the near future. Law Relating to Electronic Transfer of Money is a commentary on the Payment and Settlement Act 2007. It is a handy and comprehensive reference on all related Acts, Regulations, Notifications, Circulars and Guidelines. The Act makes the dishonour of online transactions punishable in the same manner as the dishonour of cheques under s. 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. This book sets out the practice and procedure for filing criminal complaints relating to dishonour of electronic fund transfers and includes model forms of notices and complaints. The book also explains all legal aspects of the following topics:

• Electronic fund transfers,
• Online payments,
• Credit cards/debit cards/payment gateways,
• ATMS/mobile payments,
• Cheque truncation,
• Speed clearing,
• NEFT/RTGS,
• Electronic Clearing Services

To buy this book online at LexisNexis please visit the link –

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