In this article, Goutam Bibhuprasad Sahu, a student of KiiT School of Law, Bhubaneswar has described, ‘ How to be an Advocate’.
Who is an advocate?
An advocate is a person who supports an issue or a cause publicly. In the legal system, an advocate represents his client in the court of law. An advocate is the most important part of the legal system of any country. He is solely responsible for the presentation of the case and to bring justice to the victim through his arguments. The court of law passes its judgment basing upon the facts and arguments presented by him. He has the ability and skills to either make a case out of nowhere or to ruin a case. An advocate is also known as the officer of the court because of the vital role he plays in the judiciary system.
The advocate forms the outline of the case only after meeting the client and knowing the actual facts of the case. Then the final documentation is made only after going through the facts thoroughly and interpreting the legal provisions related to it. It is the duty of the advocate to put the things in the right place so as to form a strong case which favors the client.
How to be an Advocate
Step 1: Bachelor’s degree in Law (L.L.B)
To become an advocate in India, it is compulsory for a person to complete his bachelor’s degree in law, i.e L.L.B (Legum Baccalaureus). The bachelor degree of law can be either of 3 years or 5 years.
a) Three-year course
One can opt for the three-year course of bachelor’s degree in law after completion of his graduation, the eligibility criteria for this course is that the candidate must secure at least 50% in his graduation.
b) Five-year course
A candidate can directly get into the five-year course of bachelor’s degree immediately after completion of his 10+2. One of the very popular entrance test conducted for this course is CLAT (Common Law Admission Test). By cracking CLAT he can get into prestigious NLU’s (National Law University) which are present in most of the state.
Step 2: Enrolment in State Bar Council
The final step to be an advocate is to enroll in any of the State Bar Councils regulated by the Advocates Act 1961. Every state has its unique process of registration. Once the registration is completed the candidate has to clear the All India Bar Examination (AIBE). The exam is conducted by the Bar Council of India, and the candidate gets the certificate of practice upon clearing the exam. The test is conducted to assesses the basic analytical capabilities and knowledge of the law.
Criteria for enrolment as an Advocate (As per Section 24 of the Advocates Act)
A person shall be qualified to be enrolled as an advocate if he fulfills the following conditions:
(a) He is a citizen of India. Provided that a national of any other country can also practice only if Indians are allowed to practice in that other country;
(b) He has attained the age of 21 years;
(c) He has completed his bachelors in law;
(d) He has paid the required stamp duty, which is chargeable under the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 and an enrolment fee payable to the State Bar Council. He has to pay six hundred rupees to The State Bar Council and one hundred and fifty rupees to the Bar Council of India. If such person is a Schedule Caste or Schedule Tribe then he has to pay one hundred rupees to the State Bar Council and twenty-five rupees to the Bar Council of India.
All India Bar Examination (AIBE)
- The Bar Council of India conducts the All India Bar Examination.
- The examination is conducted twice a year and the time and place of the examination, are decided by the Bar Council of India.
- The examination tests the knowledge of the advocates on substantial and procedural law areas which is decided by the Bar Council of India.
- The syllabus of the examination is to be published by the Bar Council of India, before three months from the date of the examination.
- The Bar Council of India decides the percentage of marks required to pass the examination
- The unsuccessful candidates can appear the examination again without any limit of reappearances.
- The Bar Council of India decides the syllabi, recommended readings, the appointment of paper setters, moderators, evaluators, model answers, examination hall rules and other related matters.
- The manner and format of the application for examination is determined by the Bar Council of India
- Once an advocate passes the Bar examination, he/she receives a Certificate of Practice.
For the detailed syllabus of the All India Bar Examination click here.
All India Bar Examination Rules, 2010
On 10th April 2010, the Bar Council of India has adopted a resolution, that it will conduct an All India Bar Examination. As per the guidelines of the Bar Council of India, an advocate would be entitled to a Certificate of Practice which would permit him/her to practice under Chapter IV of the Advocates Act, 1961.
The council further explained that,
- All advocated enrolled under section 24 of the Advocates Act, 1961 has to pass this examination to continue their practice in India.
- All law students graduating from the academic year 2009-2010 onwards have to appear the Bar Examination.
Number of attempts of the All India Bar Examination
There is no limit to the number of attempt to the Bar Examination. If an advocate does not pass the examination at once then he can reappear it and get the certificate of practice once he/she passes the examination.
Advocates can practice in all states
Advocates registered in the roll of one state can practice anywhere in the country. According to section 30 of the Advocates Act, an advocated is eligible to practice in all the territories covered in this act (whole of India), he can practice in all courts including the Supreme Court of India, he can practice before any tribunal, authority and any person who is authorised to take evidence of the case.
But to practice in a state other than the registered state the advocate needs to register himself in the respective Bar Council of the state where he wants to practice. Without registering with the State Bar Council the advocate cannot practice. He needs to complete the registration process and pay the registration fees. An advocate can be a member of multiple State Bar Councils but he has to pay the annual fees of all the State Bar Council to continue his membership in those councils.
Recognition of a degree in law from a foreign University
A person obtaining a law degree from a foreign University or a person of Indian Origin having double citizenship, who has attained 21 years of age can be enrolled as an advocate if the following conditions are fulfilled.
- i) The degree has been obtained from a regular course which may be for 3 years after graduation or may be of 5 years after passing 10+2 i.e higher secondary education.
- ii) The university is recognized by the Bar Council of India and the candidate passes the All India Bar Examination
For the purpose of recognition of degree, any foreign university can apply to Bar Council of India.
The application shall contain the following details,
- History and details of the University,
- Handbook, prospectus, brochure, and courses of study of the university,
- University’s standing on the accreditation list made officially or by any recognized private body,
- Any other information that the Bar Council of India may ask for, and an inspection of the university by the Bar Council of India.
Bar Council of India Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers
- Foreign Lawyers and law firms can practice Non-Indian law and set up their office in India. For the same, they have to register with the Bar Council of India.
- The registration will be valid for a term of 5 years.
- Foreign practitioners will not be allowed to appear before the Indian courts and tribunals
- Foreign lawyers will only be allowed to participate in international arbitration held in India.
- Foreign lawyers can go in partnership with Indian lawyers.
According to Rule 6(D) of the Bar Council of India Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers, the foreign lawyers have to pay a registration fee of:
- $25,000 for individuals
- $50,000 for partnership firms
- $10,000 renewal fee for individuals
- $20,000 renewal fee for partnership firms
- Registration of foreign lawyers will be done on the basis of reciprocity (equal opportunity for Indian lawyers in the foreign country).
- Foreign lawyers need to deposit a security guarantee which is refundable.
- Foreign lawyers need to take the permission of the Home Ministry of India and from their native Bar Council.
- The governance of the foreign lawyers will be same as that of the Indian Lawyers.
Punishment to Advocates for professional misconduct
- Upon receiving a complaint against an advocate if the State Bar Council has sufficient reasons to believe that the advocate on roll is guilty of such misconduct then the case shall be referred to the disposal of the disciplinary committee.
- The disciplinary committee of the state bar council has to fix a date of hearing and will send a notice to the advocate and the advocate general of the respective state.
- The disciplinary committee after hearing the case can make the following orders;
- Dismiss the proceedings, or may direct the State Bar Council to file the proceedings.
- Reprimand the advocate.
- Suspend the advocate for a particular period.
- Remove the name of the advocate from the state roll of advocates.
- When an advocate is suspended for a particular period, he is debarred from practicing in any court or before any person.
Lawyer v. Advocate v. Legal Practitioner
A lawyer is a broad term used to define legal professionals. A lawyer is a person who has been trained in law. Any person who has attained law school or completed the LLB degree is a lawyer. A lawyer cannot represent a client in a court of law. He can only act as a legal consultant or policy adviser or can give legal advice.
On the other hand, an advocate is a person who is a specialist. He represents clients in the court of law (pleads on behalf of them, defends them in the court). To become an advocate one needs to become a member of a Bar Council.
Legal Practitioner is a broader term which includes advocate, attorney, attorney at law, barrister, counsel, counselor, Juris Doctor, Lawyer, legal professional, member of the bar, practitioner, professional, solicitor etc.
Skills required to be a good advocate
a) Command over language
One of the major skill of the advocate is to play with the language. An advocate needs to have a good command over the language to do well in the industry. He must be able to express himself before the court, so as to convince the judge with his opinion of the case.
b) Oratory skills
An advocate must be a good orator. He must know when to use which tone of speech, how to control the voice modulation, how to reach to the sentiments of the judge etc. Being a good orator is not everyone’s cup of tea. It takes years to practice and self confidence to be a good orator.
c) The 3A’s
Attitude, Aptitude and Analytic. These qualities make the advocate analyze the legal problems and arrive at a definite conclusion.
d) Reading Habit
Reading habit is a must for all advocates and lawyers. Their reading must b focused mainly on law but they should also gain knowledge regarding history, sociology politics etc. An advocate should be a voracious reader and should make reading as his/her hobby. The primary source of knowledge gained by a lawyer is through reading numerous books, articles, journals etc.
In the initial years of practice an advocate may find lots of difficulties in the times schedule, workload etc but he needs to be patient to get the result which he deserves. To be a good lawyer continuous struggle for 5-7 years is required.
When advocates work as a team they generate tremendous result. While dealing a particular case as a team they need to set aside their ego for a better client outcome. Working as a team makes the case easy to handle. That is the reason why these days advocates are coming together as associates and working as a team.
g) Emotional intelligence
Clients who come to the advocate need emotional empathy. They should be satisfied that the advocate has understood their situation in totality. On the other hand his colleague also needs self respect and understanding to their best.
h) Financial Literacy
Every advocate practicing in private is doing his business. Every case involves some amount of money. Thus, the advocate should have financial literacy so as to avoid undercharging or overcharging the clients.
i) Technological affinity
To cope up with the current generation the advocate should be technologically well versed. These days all the cases, judgments, laws and articles are available online. To have access to all those the advocate needs to be updated with the required technology.
j) Time management
To meet the deadlines, whether it is in practice or corporate or real world the advocate needs to learn time management. Time management ensures smooth functioning of the daily work and given a lot of time to do stuff other than work.
Number of Lawyers in India
|Area||Total Advocates||Advocates enrolled in last 5 years||5 year growth %||Growth rate % (5 year-on-year average)||State GDP ($bn)||GDP / lawyer ($)||State population (m)||Non-lawyers per lawyer||Data as at|
|Maharashtra & Goa||112706||28547||25.3||5.1||222.8||1,976,470||114||1,010||05/03/2011|
|Punjab & Haryana||64826||16831||26.0||5.2||103.4||1,595,039||25||391||31/07/2011|
|Assam, Nagaland, etc||23077||7074||30.7||6.1||23.2||1,004,030||33||1,436||05/03/2011|
|Jammu & Kashmir||5951||2080||35.0||7.0||12.1||2,028,231||13||2,109||14/11/2011|
In the present scenario there are numerous options for a law graduate. An advocate can practice privately and independently from the very first day of his career. He can also specialize in various fields like a criminal lawyer, a civil lawyer, a corporate lawyer, an income tax lawyer etc. The beginners can also join the chamber of senior lawyers to gain the practical knowledge and experience. As an advocate one can also serve in the government sector. One can join the judicial career by clearing the state judicial services examination. This can help him to become a Civil judge or a Judicial Magistrate.
There are options in the private sector also. One can get into a legal firm as a legal adviser and get good remuneration for the same. These days banks are also appointing advocates to deal with their cases. The overall job of the advocates is quite interesting and encouraging. Advocates in India have a bright future but for that, they need to commit themselves to the profession to achieve excellence.