This article is written by Shikha Pokhriyal, pursuing BA LLB from Delhi Metropolitan Education, GGSIPU, school of law. This article talks about the old notions regarding the legal profession and how it has changed over the years.
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The legal profession is considered one of the noble professions in the world. A country without a well-established legal system is incomplete as there is no definite system to guide how things will workaround. Law is the means to justice and equality. Every individual remembers law, when they are in some sort of problem and when they want to claim something they believe in. For example: if there is a fight going on between two people because of some property issue, marital issue, corporate issue, or any other type of issue, the first sentence they use in their arguments is” I will see you in the court”. This proves the amount of trust an individual pours into the legal system of the country.
Our Indian legal system has evolved a lot from the old days of the ancient period. The first court in India was the British Court in Bombay in 1672. After this, the major courts were established in Madras and Calcutta, in 1726. The Indian legal system has seen a lot of changes over the past many years. There were a number of struggles which the lawyers faced in this profession and they still do. Many perceptions were made about these professions which are very stereotypical.
This article will talk about the legal profession in the older times in contrast to how it is viewed in modern times. The struggles that the legal professionals and the students of law face in this profession. It also highlights how the students perceive this profession now and have strong willpower to work for their goals.
Viewing the legal profession as a source of positivism
After independence, a constituent assembly was formed in the year 1946 to frame the Indian Constitution. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the president of the committee in charge of making the constitution of India. The chairman of this constituent assembly was B.R. Ambedkar who was also appointed as first law minister of India.
Many legal scholars and jurists have different definitions of law and the types of law. There was a perception that when a person has nothing to do they pursue law which even till today we get to hear sometimes. There was a thought that if a person is not good at doing anything, the legal profession will be considered as best for them. But now as the times are changing, and we are living in the 21st century, many students are pursuing law because they really want to and work towards it. One of the reasons why more and more people want to pursue law is because of the expansion of law in many fields like corporate, environmental or family, etc. The students before even going to law school know what field they want to work in, and this perspective becomes clear when they actually study the subjects in the schools.
Now, the law is not limited to just practicing in courts or being a criminal lawyer only. Today the field offers so many options that a person can choose to be a corporate lawyer or can go into the field of legal research. They can work in arbitration and mediations or can pursue criminology which deals with the mind of the criminals. Further, there are environment lawyers who work for the betterment of the environment trying to save the trees or rivers or fighting for clean rivers. With so many new options available, it has increased the interest of the students to pursue law.
The legal profession as mentioned earlier is considered the noblest profession in the entire world as it helps to administer justice and equality. Here to administer justice, advocates and lawyers put their client’s interests above everything and they try their best to get what their clients want. Without lawyers, it is impossible to maintain peace and stability in society. They suggest updated and reasonable methods of resolving disputes among the parties in order to maintain peace.
Now as the times have changed, getting into the legal profession has become more difficult as the competition is increasing day by day. To excel in this career now is all about one’s own hard work and willpower. Old perceptions of not earning enough money or the non-availability of options do not bother a lot of students. As of now the students really want to improve their work and aim to work in the field of their choice.
The necessity to erase the struggle associated with the profession
Today, as the competition is very high, many law students face a lot of struggle once they are in the early stages of completing their degree, or when they have completed their course. The demand for long working hours associated with a meager salary forms one of the major obstacles in the initial stages of the profession, and therefore because of this many students who really wanna pursue this profession do not get into it due to their unhealthy financial background. But many law schools now encourage their students to indulge in internships to gain experience from the first year only, so that practical knowledge of law increases, and in the latter year when they start working they feel comfortable and sufficiently paid for the work they are doing. Many prestigious non-government organizations offer internships to law students, by which they are able to score a good recommendation and learn a lot by helping people in need.
Networking and socializing are considered as important as doing the work allocated to you. In every profession, especially in legal, connecting with people is very important as it will help a person in the future. If a person is introverted and does not like to talk with other fellow lawyers or judges then this is considered rude behavior which becomes a problem for their career. Talking to people, asking for help whenever needed, and helping others never goes to waste. As a student, one gets to learn a massive amount of things when they talk to new people, and this helps to perceive things from the other’s point of view as well.
Even the clients always prefer a lawyer who is easy to connect with, who can understand the problem, and always tries to perceive things from the client’s point of view. This is necessary because the client should feel comfortable while sharing their problems and without all the information and relevant facts it becomes impossible to win the case. Earlier no one used to provide such information to a student, and even now, talking about networking is less, but still, there are many organizations and institutions who provide free courses and webinars about networking and the attitude which will help a law student to move forward in their career. Even in the colleges, there are various activities organized so that students work together, try to understand each other’s perspectives on certain cases or acts.
Dynamic nature of the legal professions
However, as society changes, the point of view of people also changes. There were many laws that were amended so that law and society can work hand in hand. But still, there are many laws, which are problematic or seem problematic to this generation of students but not to the people who have been in the legal profession for the past many years. Marital rape, live-in relationships, are some of the topics on which the legislature does not talk a lot. Legislature in the past recent years did amend many laws which were progressive for the societies like Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and the bills relating to abortion. Law students do remain in a dilemma sometimes because of this generation gap and talking about these controversial topics if they really want to. Teachers and professors sometimes engage in debates relating to these topics which promote healthy debates. So that if outside the college, controversial questions are asked on a few sensitive topics a student can respond to that without hurting the sentiment of others.
There were many struggles that were and still are there that the legal profession faces. There are many preconceived notions about this profession. Law is there to uplift people and provide justice if any wrong is done to them. Despite these facts, an individual gets hesitant to approach a lawyer because of many reasons. The most common among these is the reason that they are not aware of their rights and they do not even know that what is considered as wrong or a right in the eyes of law, this happens generally because of lack of legal education and awareness. A poor person or the person who is not able to afford a lawyer and invest their time in the proceedings of the court, often stay silent and the rich or the well-off individual keeps on exploiting them and prey on their vulnerabilities. These people who are not able to afford legal services are not aware of the free legal aid. Because of this lack of awareness, a common man or a poor person suffers.
The issues like long court trials and delays in judgment are often highlighted everywhere whether be on television or anywhere else. The notion that the court will not render a decision at all or they will just keep on giving dates of the next hearing, becomes problematic for the people actually suffering from the problem. There was a necessity to erase this image of the legal profession so that people can come forward and freely approach the lawyers. Though this delay in judgment, preconceived notions still remain with us, today the situation is far better. The people do come forward whether they be rich or poor to administer justice, they are aware of their rights, not all of the rights but still few of them.
People now know that the law is for the betterment of their well-being, to help them fight their problems. The court follows the rule of law to render decisions. The problem like, what if the judge favors one party or partiality is done, is dealt with the rule against bias, which states that “ a person cannot be made judge in their own case”. In the case of Crawford Bayley & co v/s Union of India, the Supreme Court of India stated if it is found that people in the authority have any personal relationship with either of the parties, then rule against bias comes into play and the concerned authorities are removed from that bench.
Globalization by improving the connections with the other countries, and indulging in business practices brought a change in the legal profession. In the old era, or before the 90s, the laws like, corporate law, environmental law, intellectual property rights law, international law, or investment law, were unknown or never even considered as the way to earn a living. This created a lot of opportunities for law students. Because of the introduction of all these new laws, specialization became very important and it became difficult to keep up to date with these new emerging laws. To tackle all these problems, the Bar Council of India includes all these subjects now in a law school so that a student can get familiar with the area where they wanna specialize after graduation.
Willingness and willpower: Essential elements
Motivation and patience is the key to excel in the profession of law. This profession requires many years of practice to get into the position which a law student dreams of. Long working hours, working with less money and completing the work before deadlines seem a lot. To actually make a name in the profession in law, willingness to achieve, and the willpower to not give up is the main element. After passing out of college, the students do not have enough practical knowledge to work in a good position with no difficulties. Because of this, many students get disappointed with the enormous amount of work and not getting paid well, so they back out.
But students who are aware of the fact that be it corporate or litigation or any field there is always going to be a lot of work, and this is the time to learn and gain knowledge in every possible way, and not to worry or upset over the bundle of file or less money, but knowing that they are starting their career from the scratch, and not losing hope to excel in their career without any fear.
There are many struggles in this profession, some people say in court males perform best, and earlier there were fewer opportunities provided to women. But now female lawyers are no less, working for the same hours as men and achieving great heights. The students who are not from national law university, sometimes feel inferior but in reality and while working, no one will keep asking about the college rather they will focus on the kind of work a person does, how they are tackling a situation, how their behavior and many other aspects. Without motivation it will be impossible to complete any assignment, do not forget whatever you are working on you are learning something out of it and which will only help in your career as learning never goes to waste.
As the times are changing, and with this dynamic environment our laws are also changing and expanding thus, giving a number of choices to the law students. Now the law is not only about if you have nothing to do, pursue law, now it is more about skills and interests. How much a student wants to achieve depends upon the willingness of that person to work. Struggles will be there in every profession whenever we start something from scratch, it is difficult and confusing. But when students prepare their minds to gain knowledge and grab every opportunity and work towards it with all their willpower, they gain a good name in the field.
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