Saturday, May 1, 2010

My Advice to young entrants/junior advocates in legal profession – an insight - Sri. V. Durga Rao

Sri. V. Durga Rao is a practicing Advocate of Madras High Court, write books and articles concentrating on Company Law in India. M/s Durga Rao & Associates, Attorneys & Solicitors, 3/1, 4th Street, Ist Floor, Venkateswara Nagar, Adayar, Chennai

My Advice to young entrants/junior advocates in legal profession

I have been seeing the young entrants in legal profession and the problems being faced by them. With my own personal experience and the experience in legal profession, I have decided to write something useful for the young entrants in legal profession. We can not see all the young entrants in legal profession at par as few are privileged. I am not referring to the law graduates of prestigious law schools in India like National Law Schools, Nalsar University etc. Law graduates of prestigious law schools will very easily get into big law firms and many pursue their masters from prestigious universities abroad.

Barring the prestigious law schools in India and few other colleges, I do not have good opinion at the way in which the legal education is being imparted in India. It is very unfortunate to see the way in which the law colleges are functioning in India and no serious effort is being made by the authorities concerned in most of the colleges towards imparting quality education. As a result and for the other reasons, quality has taken a back seat in legal education and profession; and the dignity of the legal profession is in serious trouble now. Dealing with the systematic failures and the reforms required, is a complicated exercise and I do not want to go into the problems and the required reforms in this Article. 

We can not gain anything by hiding and the public are observing the way in which the legal professionals are rendering their service and we all know about the public perception too. I have seen the young entrants in legal profession who can not even write a simple adjournment petition and can not make a simple submission to the Court without any mistake. I have seen the people who laugh at the fellow professionals and it really pains me. 

Before making my point and giving my small advice to the young entrants in the legal profession, we need to categorize the students who join law and in my opinion, those are as follows:

1.    There are students who join Law College just for the sake of getting a law degree with a belief that it will give some respect to them in the society.

2.    There are students who join Law College with the intention that it can be useful for them in their business and daily life though they have no intention to come to legal profession and practice.

3.    There are students who join Law College for passing time as there is no age limit for pursuing a law degree.

4.    There are students who join Law College with the intention that a law degree can be an additional qualification for them adding value to their other degrees or qualifications.

5.    There are students who join Law College with the intention of joining some company or law firm after completion of their degree.

6.    There are few students who join law with the passion and with the intention to pursue their career in legal profession.

I want to lay my focus on the 6th category of students. Before going to give my advice and insight to the young entrants to the legal profession, I want to deal with the problems in legal profession and few problems are as follows:
         1. One may need some kind of reference to get into the chambers of a reputed Senior Advocate.
         2. One may choose to join as a junior advocate or counsel, as referred in the profession, with some established practitioner in legal profession.
         3. During initial days, it will be really tough to get a good remuneration and many may not be able to get remuneration from their office even for survival. I have decided to refer the money being received from the senior’s office as remuneration though the practice with the chambers of senior advocate initially is in the nature of apprenticeship.
         4. Many Senior Advocates or the practitioners may not be able to guide their junior advocates and there can be justification for that too.
         5. A young entrant to the legal profession may find it very difficult to adjust in the senior’s office and adjust with the senior colleagues in the office at times.  
          6. It is true that certain issues are to be learned in the legal profession practically despite having strong theoretical knowledge and other qualities. As such, every young legal professional may have to spend few months or few years to feel free about the Court system and to come to a position to handle his brief independently.
          7. The way in which a young advocate dresses, the way in which he makes his submissions in court and the way in which the young advocate behaves in Court etc. matters in legal profession. One should be careful about all these issues and these issues can be learned very easily with interest in profession and interest is the key.
          8. After few months or few years of practice with the Chambers of Senior Advocate, one should have good public relations and should be able to gain the confidence of the people prompting them to engage his services in the profession.
           9. The young entrant may get his own brief while he work in some Senior’s office and some may not be able to handle their brief independently while they work in some office.
           10. Many young entrants to legal profession start their own practice after few months or few years of their apprenticeship with the senior’s office. As I feel, many young lawyers start their own independent practice without much brief initially and they may have to travel in an unexplored path and with the belief that they will shine in the profession someday.
           11. In some cases, it will be very easy to get into legal profession where his/her father or relatives are established practitioners or some Senior Advocate has chosen to refer to the brief.
           12. Normally, it will take few years for a legal profession to establish himself.
           13. Few young entrants may get vexed with the system and as a result they abandon their desire to pursue their career in legal profession and may prefer to change their profession or may join some company as a legal manager etc.
           When I was a law student, I have heard from my lecturers about initial days of a legal professional. My lecturers have said that a legal profession has to pass through three important stages like:

1.    During first or initial stage, a legal professional may have to work very hard and there will be lot of work though there may not be corresponding revenue or income.

2.    During the second stage, a legal professional may have some work and may be able to make some money too for survival etc.

3.    During the final stage, a legal professional may not have much work, but, he will be making lot of money and there will be very good revenue or income.

With my experience in legal profession, I find that what my lecturers have said while I was in college is true.

I strongly believe that legal profession is one of the finest and toughest professions in the world. It requires lot of courage to stand in legal profession and to become successful and its true. 

Now, I want to give my little advice and insight to the young entrants in legal profession. Ones financial and other background may not be relevant for other professionals or when one opts to join in some company after attending the regular interview. But, it is not the case with the legal profession as I feel. I want to categorize the young entrants into three like:

1.    Young entrants with notable legacy in the profession.

2.    Young entrants who are privileged to spend considerable time in the senior’s office without any remuneration.

3.    Young entrants who have the desire to stand in profession and who should also make money for their survival and discharge their family responsibilities.

I have decided to render my advice to the 3rd category of students and my advice and insight for them is as follows:

1. You can not expect respect from your senior, colleagues and from the presiding officers in the Court, unless you possess good amount knowledge and other qualities.

2. The young and entrant in the profession should work very hard initially and should have so much enthusiasm to learn everything he can. He should focus only on his work and his responsibilities. He must be always hungry to learn new things and work very hard. This is the first quality required for an young entrant in legal profession to stand and to be successful thereafter.

3. The young advocates should try to go to all forums and try to concentrate on all types of cases. The young advocate should also lay so much emphasis on English language both written and spoken. The command in English language is very important in legal profession and at times it becomes the line between success and failure in profession. 

4. With hard work, dedication and enthusiasm, a young advocate should be able to learn all the basics within few months. When you are qualified to handle the clients and brief independently, then, you will be respected in your senior’s office and you will also be paid well and its true. There is so much demand for young legal professionals with standards in profession and it is really true.

5. The young professional should focus on his individual personality from the beginning and he should understand that the manner in which he dresses, he addresses the court, he behaves and all his activities matters in construing his individual personality.

6. The young legal professional should be prepared to work very hard for few years in profession if he wants to stand in the legal profession.

7. Apart from the concentration on routine work in courts and the required regular learning, a young entrant should also focus on his public contacts and should be very good in communication and especially communication with the public.

8. Young entrant may not be able to establish his own practice soon unless he mingles with the society well and develops a goodwill among his friends, relatives and other contacts.

9. There will be competition in the legal profession and few of his own colleagues and even senior advocates may be jealous about the growth and one should be able to handle all this.

10. It is normally seen that the word ‘senior advocate’ goes with the age of a legal professional and I completely disagree with that. Seniority is to be construed from the angle as to how a legal professional has experienced things in profession and his ability to imagine the things not seen.

11. When a young advocate establishes his own office and goes to court regularly with his own brief, then, he will look different in the Court as majority of the independent practitioners are of aged and it is very rare to see young professionals start their own independent practice. The situation in lower courts and practice before magistrate courts may be bit different.

12. Young independent practitioner may even face the jealousy from the senior advocates and they try to bully you in courts and you must be strong enough to face all this silly issues in legal profession. These are all the facts and can not be forgotten.

13. It will be a different experience to start an independent office in legal profession and be independent. During the initial days of practice, a young advocate tends to know about the clients, their behavior, how to respond, how to manage office etc. and it will take some time.

14. One has to cross all this stages before being established practitioner in legal profession and successful thereafter.

Note: the views expressed are my personal and many may differ with me.

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