This article written by Anubhav Pandey takes a dig on What’s required from a lawyer to become a Panel Lawyer of the institutions like – Banks, financial institutions, PSUs or Courts.
Every institution, either it is financial, regulatory, policy-making or educational, needs a lawyer. The skills required for interpreting statutes and judgment is what that creates a demand for a panel lawyer in every field. Here is a detailed know-how on, how can a lawyer get empaneled by banks and other institution in India.
Role of Banking & Finance Lawyer in India
- A lawyer interested in pursuing a career as a panel lawyer must be good with his drafting skills, communication and also should possess skills required to understand the functioning of the commercial world and economics.
- A panel lawyer of any banking or financial institutions must be well versed in the banking and commercial laws. The in-house lawyers are expected to provide legal advice and at times hold the responsibility to instruct and manage outside legal counsel.
Requirements to be a Panel Lawyer of Banks in India
- In India, different financial institutions have different criteria for the selection of panel lawyer(s). Although the basic selection procedure is the written test followed with the interview, having a law degree from any of the Bar council recognized college or university is mandatory. These panel lawyers are often called as a law officer. The recruitment of law officer is done through examinations such as – SBI, NABARD, SIDBI etc.
- For being a panel lawyer in banks and other financial institutions in India, few banks also expect a panel lawyer to be involved in private practice in the bar with effective practice preferably on the civil side on banking and other commercial matters. Minimum years of practice is different for different banking institutions, e.g. Allahabad bank requires a minimum practice of seven years for being empaneled as a junior lawyer while, fifteen years of effective practice for being empaneled as a senior lawyer.
- A panel consists of different lawyers working under different jurisdictions of court. Henceforth, the panel is distributed as-
- Few lawyers handling cases of Supreme Court
- Few lawyers handling cases of High Court
- In the same manner, a few panel lawyers are appointed for DRATs, DRTs(Debt recovery Tribunals), District Consumer Forums & State Consumer Commission’s, Civil Courts, Criminal Courts and other trial Courts /Tribunals.
- As per the work, the panel lawyers are transferred from one zone or branch to another. E.g. panel lawyer(s) working for the cases pending in Supreme Court or National Consumer Dispute Redressal Agency work, in the main office of the bank mostly situated in Delhi.
- Lawyers empaneled will have to abide by the bank’s rule on fees and other charges. Empaneled lawyers are not granted with absolute right to represent the bank in every situation. In certain cases, banks often employ a lawyer which is not one of his panel lawyers to argue their cases.
Duties of A Panel Lawyer in Banking Institutions
While pursuing/defending any litigation on behalf of the bank, the Panel advocate should:
- Intimate the day to day progress of the matter to the concerned branch/office of the bank.
- Not seek adjournments without any valid and cogent reasons.
Not make any submission before the Court without proper instructions from the concerned branch/office of the bank.
- May advise the concerned branch/office of the bank for engaging Senior Advocate Counsel if required to protect the interest of the Bank.
- Not appear either directly or on behalf of his juniors/assistant advocates against the bank.
Salary Paid to Panel Lawyers in Banks in India.
Salary differs from institution to institution. ICICI bank pays at around 9.05 lakhs for a new joiner who has joined as a panel lawyer or law officer.
The different banks offer different packages depending upon the experience(s) of the candidate. Salary is normally decent enough, along with various (DA & HRA).
Designing of Resume for Selection as a Panel Lawyer in Indian Banks
To apply for panel lawyer or law officer one needs to design a resume in a manner which reflects one’s work with banking and commercial laws. If a law student, one should intern with banking institutions. Sample CV is attached with this link below-
Sample CV for law officer or panel lawyer posts for banks in India
Panel Lawyers in Courts in India
Panel Lawyer(s) is/are selected under Regulation 8 of the National Legal Services Authority (Fee and Competent Legal Services) Regulation, 2010 to render free and competent legal services to the deserving, the needy persons under the scheme.
Every court, either it is the Supreme Court, the High Courts or the District Courts, have a panel of lawyers. These panel lawyers do various functions appointed to them by the court. A panel lawyer must possess an honest reputation and often are recognized at the bar.
Selection Procedure for Panel Lawyers in India
Different courts have different selection procedures. As the practice at the apex court is considered as the most difficult, so is the selection procedure for the panel lawyers in the Supreme Court.
Here is a detailed procedure for the selection of a panel lawyer in Delhi Legal Service Authority-
Advocates are appointed by the members of the Interview Board, comprising of–
- Hon’ble Chairman, District Legal Services Authority
- Senior Additional District Judge
- Senior Additional Sessions Judge
- Secretary, District Legal Services Authority
Here is Brief Working, Selection of Panel lawyers in District Court in India-
It is the duty of the District Magistrate to maintain a list of all the panel lawyers involved with the court to fight civil or criminal cases.
- Ordinarily, the number of panel lawyers are very few, as only that much number of lawyers are appointed which are necessary to cope with the pending cases.
- A minimum practice of five years at the Bar is essential in every District court in India.
- The selection procedure is – selection by District Magistrate in consultation with the District Judge.
- Initial time period for appointment of a panel lawyer in most of the districts is one year, which may get extended for a period of three years.
Fees Paid to a Panel Lawyer in India
Fee paid to the panel lawyers depends upon court to court and also depends upon the experience of the lawyer empanelled.
- Senior lawyer of Supreme Court empanelled as a panel lawyer may get salary on the basis of per appearance.
- District court also pay a decent fee to the lawyers empanelled as a panel lawyer.
Panel Lawyer in PSUs: MTNL
MTNL, a major telecom service provider licensed to provide all types of telecom services (Basic, Cellular, Internet, long distance etc) in licensed service areas of Delhi & Mumbai intends to have a panel of Advocates/ Firms for representing MTNL before various Courts in Delhi and Mumbai.
Duties of a Panel Lawyer in PSUs (MTNL) in India
It is the duty of a panel lawyer to represent the PSU in all courts, including – District Courts at Delhi & Mumbai; CMM Delhi, Mumbai, any High Court, Supreme Court, Tribunals, Judicial Forums, and Arbitrators etc.
Requirements to be a Panel Lawyer in a PSU in India
The panel of lawyers consists of Advocates from diversified fields viz. Telecom Regulatory laws, constitutional law, civil law, commercial law, property law, taxation law, corporate law etc, having the expertise, experience to handle cases in court.
For being a panel lawyer of a PSU in India, a minimum tenure of practice at the bar is required in most of the cases.
- For MTNL, an individual advocate must have at least 5 years of experience as a practicing Advocate.
- In the case of firms, the senior most Advocate/Partner/Associate of the firm must have at least 15 years of experience as a practicing Advocate.
At times PSU demands certain infrastructural requirements too. In MTNL, the following requirements are demanded:
- Advocates/ Firms should have their own chambers in the Supreme Court, High Court or major District Courts or should have good office space with facilities like – telephone, fax, computers, internet, etc.
- The advocate/ firm must have an adequate manpower.
- The office of the advocate/ firms should be situated within 8 to 10 Kms of the office of MTNL.
Tenure for panel lawyers in PSUs in India
Every PSU has a criteria that a panel lawyer will have a minimum tenure of a certain year, subject to reappointment, which differs from PSUs to PSUs. In MTNL the initial tenure is for 2 years. However, if MTNL finds fit, it can increase the tenure for another 2 years.
Procedure for Selection as a Panel Lawyer in PSUs in India
Every PSUs have a different criteria but, a general guideline followed while selecting a panel lawyer is:
- Length of practice and specialization.
- Proper and adequate infrastructure such as – office premises, number of junior advocates, assistants, clerks and fax, mobile phone, fixed phone, internet connection etc.
- An annual income-tax return filed with the Tax Authorities.
- Track record and integrity.
- If considered necessary, an inquiry with the respective Bar Council/Bar.
- Association about the claims and conduct of the advocate to be empanelled may be made and credentials may also be verified.
- If the advocate is empanelled by other organizations/authorities, their opinion may also be obtained, if felt necessary.
Can an Empanelled Lawyer in PSUs Continue his Private Practice?
Most of the PSUs allow private practice by empanelled lawyers on a condition that their practice should not interfere in any way with their work associated with that PSU. Making it simpler, private practice is allowed but, work of PSU is to be given primary importance. An advocate/firm is not allowed to take any sort of case against the PSU with which they are working.
More than anything else, a Panel lawyer should be sincere & honest towards his work. If he’s doing justice, anybody would appoint him & he’ll be fulfilling his duties without fail.
To all the lawyers-to-be out there, I hope this article helped you to garner information on how to become a panel lawyer & what all garnishing, at your end, is required to become the one. In case of any queries or, in case you want to strike a conversation with us or our author, feel free to drop a comment below.
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