This article is written by Prabha Dabral, from IMS Unison University, Dehradun. This article deals with the emerging areas of law and how young lawyers can bring a change in the system.
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Litigation is one of the traditional choices that a law graduate usually makes. But in the modern world different areas of work are emerging in the legal profession. Different areas like media law, cyber-security laws and technology law have a lot more to offer to fresh graduates. Today, lawyers find it tough to make a career in litigation because of the low income and high competition. However, they are more into corporate jobs and want to work in an area in which they can make more money.
Experienced lawyers find it easy to get clients but looking at the modern scenario, young lawyers are considered better. Young lawyers understand the socio-economic changes in the practice of today’s law because they have the physical, mental or emotional stamina. They can do better while dealing with the changes in the practice of law as compared to the old lawyers. For example, in law firms, hiring young lawyers has proven to be more beneficial.
Grooming the young lawyers – a growing necessity
Out of all the professions, law is the most ideal and honourable one. Young lawyers must know what their profession stands for and how they can elevate this profession and for this to happen grooming plays an important role. With the rapid industrialization and globalization of the economy, the law has also evolved. This presents the fresh graduates with many dimensions of the legal profession. There are many new areas other than practising which the young lawyers can explore to level up in their career.
Different areas in the legal profession
Mergers and Acquisitions
Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) are the terms used to refer to the joining of two companies. When two separate entities are combined to create a joint organization it is called a merger. Here, the ownership as well as the management structure changes. On the other hand, the takeover of one entity by another is referred to as an acquisition. In this, a smaller company ceases to exist and becomes a part of a larger company.
Multinational businesses keep on expanding by making mergers and acquisitions a common practice. This aspect of a business is regulated by various statutes like Companies Act 2013, Competition Act 2002, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016 and Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999. Therefore, leading corporations require corporate lawyers who are trained in overseeing their mergers and acquisitions so that they can protect their business interests.
In the legal issues of mergers and acquisitions, a lawyer acts as a legal advisor. Here, both the parties, seller and buyer require a lawyer of their own. The lawyers on both sides may work together for the drafting of the document for the purchase agreement. Lawyers in mergers and acquisitions also have to deal with the communication part with the clients on behalf of the company.
The modern world is getting digital and is connected through the internet. Today, most of the portions of human activities take place on the internet. For example, monetary transactions, communication, etc takes place on the internet. This is the reason that many legal issues regarding cyber-security, data theft, cyber-bullying etc, have come into existence.
Right now, India has the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) which governs the issues related to internet activities and computers. This act ensures that the transactions done through the electronic exchange of data are protected. The government, as well as the private sector, requires a lawyer who is trained in this field.
Cyber lawyers are supposed to have an astute knowledge of the relevant laws to apply them wherever necessary. They need to know the working of the latest technology like cryptocurrency, cyber security, blockchain, etc. In law agencies, a cyber lawyer has to keep in mind the jurisdiction, collection of data from computers and other devices, etc.
Insolvency and Bankruptcy Law
There was a huge pile-up of the non-performing loans in the bank and a delay in the debt resolution. To resolve this issue, the Indian Government enacted the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) 2016 which provides a time-bound process to resolve insolvency in a company. Under this act, when a default in repayment occurs then the creditors make decisions to resolve insolvency by controlling the debtor’s assets. Therefore, insolvency professionals and corporate lawyers have an opportunity to practice Insolvency and Bankruptcy law and enhance their income in this field.
There are different types of lawyers that are required to learn bankruptcy and insolvency code. One of them is the banking and finance lawyers. They are needed for drafting agreements for banks or finance. While drafting an agreement, they have to keep in mind the biggest concern of recovering debt in case of default. Since IBC is there for these financial creditors to recover bad loans, it has significantly impacted the clauses in agreements. Other than banking and finance lawyers that are required are corporate transaction lawyers, in-house counsels, labour and employment lawyers, etc.
Recently, the IBC (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was tabled in Lok Sabha. The Bill demands a simplified version of IBC to save time and cost of bankruptcy proceedings for small businesses. It introduced an alternative insolvency and resolution process called the Pre-packaged Insolvency Resolution Process (PIRP) for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). This process is largely aimed at providing MSMEs with an opportunity to restructure their liabilities and start with a clean slate. Unlike the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP), under PIRP debtors remain in control of their distressed firm during the whole resolution process.
Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual Property refers to those intangible properties that are the result of the creativity of a person. For example, it can be any form of art, music or production of a chemical. For the protection of such creations, there are certain rights available to the owner for a particular period of time. These rights are known as Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Copyright, trademark, patent are some of the types of IPR.
These rights can be violated too. For settling these issues, trained professionals i.e. an intellectual property lawyer is required. For instance, someone may steal a trade secret, reproduce a copyrighted work or recreate a patented work and start a business using someone else’s trademark, etc. An intellectual property lawyer is needed to seek action against these violations. They may seek compensation through litigation for the sold work. They may even prevent the company owners from violating other IP laws.
With the opening up of the Indian economy, intellectual capital has become one of the key wealth drivers. Hence, legal issues related to IPR are rising too. To resolve the issue, India has a framework to protect intellectual property rights. They are the Patents Act, 1970 which protects the right of an inventor to commercially exploit his new technology or invention, the Copyright Act, 1957 protects the right of an author of creative work and the Trademark Act, 1999 protects the trademark and the rights which a person acquires owing to the trademark and many more.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
ADR plays an important role in dealing with the situation of the overburdened courts of India. It is an alternative mechanism that can be used in place of using the traditional method for resolving disputes. It is a technique of settling disputes and disagreements between the parties by way of discussions and negotiations. All types of matters like civil, commercial, family, industrial, are included under this mechanism.
The dispute is resolved when a neutral third party helps the two parties in dispute to communicate, discuss the differences and resolve the issue. The various modes of the settlement include arbitration, conciliation, mediation and negotiation. Big organizations and corporate houses prefer to settle disputes rather than get bothered by prolonged litigation.
The ADR process can be successful with or without hiring a lawyer. But hiring them for complex cases such as child custody, division of marital assets, etc. is beneficial. Most of the resolutions to ADR proceedings result in a legal contract. Consulting to a lawyer is considered better before signing such agreements.
Future of the legal profession
Physical footprints are removed because of technology. In our day to day life, most of our work is done online. It has its benefits. It allows us to work across borders, travel and have an office on wheels, etc. There are many uses of technology that can be upgraded in the Judicial system for its development.
For example, virtual courts. These are the courts that use a remote working system so that the professionals may work outside their office environment. This system can be achieved by using various software and tools. The virtual courts aim at eliminating the requirement of human presence in the court. This helps in saving time of the courts too as the adjudication of cases does not get delayed because of the unavailability of the litigant or client or other court staff. Owing to these benefits, India is moving forward to adopt this system.
A well-working system of virtual courts was seen during the COVID-19 crisis where the facility of video-conferencing was introduced. Due to the nationwide lockdown, the Supreme Court of India and almost every High Court had been temporarily closed. However, on 26th July 2019, Delhi’s first virtual court was launched at the Tis Hazari Court. The proper functioning of these virtual courts will improve the flexibility of our judicial system to work 24/7 and as a result, the adjudication of the cases could be done in a time-bound manner. Due to various loopholes, India is still not having a full-fledged system of these courts. But, soon we can expect a well-established system of virtual courts in India. Recently, various AI tools have been introduced by the Supreme Court. In April 2021, the Supreme Court launched an automation platform called Supreme Court Portal for Assistance in Courts Efficiency (SUPACE). This portal is an AI-enabled assistive tool that can read the scanned documents and can extract relevant facts. Finding facts, issues and points of law from a thousand pages of a document is done in a few seconds through this portal. Hence, it makes legal research and reviewing easier for the judges leading to speeding up of the resolutions. Similarly, there is a machine learning tool called the Supreme Court Vidhik Anuvaad Software (SUVAS) which translates the Supreme Court judgements into vernacular languages.
Technology has offered many practical solutions. One of them is Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is now a part of the leading law firms. It is continuously evolving to benefit many industries and the legal profession as well. It offers multiple benefits to automate work. It promotes faster litigation procedures as the work related to legal research, confirmation of facts, cross-checking and background verification is accelerated.
For example, sorting of documents can be done by a keyword search. Predicting legal outcomes by sifting through years of legal data is made easy by the e-discovery processes.
Moreover, new areas governing cyber law, cryptocurrency regulations, and data privacy laws will keep the legal industry busy. This proves that the future of the legal profession revolves around technology.
Need to stop relying on experienced and senior lawyers
Senior lawyers have an upper hand in the legal profession because of having more experience than young lawyers. And they use it to their advantage by making the clients pay more to them for their legal advice. People must understand that if they are paying more that does not mean they are getting a better lawyer. Young lawyers are better at their jobs too. They can perform much better because of their fresh perspective and innovative solutions for the issues of the modern world.
One can not wholly be dependent on the senior lawyers just for the sake of their 20-30 years of experience. Lately, with the emergence of technology and new areas of crime, they may find it difficult as compared to the young generation who grew up using some of the technology like, internet. Hence, the younger generation has an advantage in this area. Young lawyers are a step ahead not in experience but in implementing new ideas. They are using the technology to build their career by learning new skills, finding clients and maintaining a better client experience. Because of which clients are satisfied and are more drawn to these young lawyers.
Young lawyers can bring a change in the system
In India, lawyers usually make money by practising in the courts. This is known as litigation. The cases that they take into court are usually criminal cases or cases regarding property, banking matters or corporate transactions. However today, there are other choices available to the young lawyers which they can choose as their career option. For example, with the increase in the number of people involved with the use of the internet, there is an increase in cybercrimes such as hacking others computers and stealing data. Hence, we needed a law that applies to the internet as well as the internet associated technology. These laws are referred to as cyber-security laws.
Similarly, there are other technical areas like media law, technology law, data protection laws, etc. Though many experienced lawyers are good at their job, they are not very familiar with modern technology. That is why they cannot be trusted with taking cases regarding the issues arising due to these technologies. On the other hand, the young lawyers are adopting technology better and are way ahead. Moreover, they are believed to bring a change in the system too.
In legal practice, client experience is the key point that a lawyer should keep in mind because the client is the centre. Law is for the people and the lawyers are there to help these people enjoy their rights. Young lawyers know that the quality of client experience is very important to get success in the legal profession. Hence, the clients that a lawyer has gained in their career must be satisfied. This is the reason that today many law firms are hiring consultants so that they can understand their clients better. And good client service leads to an increase in client satisfaction which helps in having a good career.
Moreover, young lawyers are seeing opportunities in adopting technology. They have proved that drafting legal documents and appearing before the court are not the only jobs for a lawyer, it is much more in modern times. They are using new ways of finding clients and maintaining a better client experience. Today, people need not chase their lawyers and ask about the updates of the hearing. There are automated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems used by some lawyers to deal with such situations. This system sends regular updates to the client and even reminds them about the important dates automatically.
CRM system in law firms
In a law firm, many operations are to be managed like managing clients, contracts, billing etc. Along with these operations, the attorneys, legal assistants and other staff are to be maintained too. Doing paperwork for these tasks is very stressful. CRM systems have many features and tools that may help in managing while addressing the needs of legal practice. When you have so many clients then you need a good CRM system. It maintains all the lists of your existing clients with the details and keeps them informed about any of the case updates. It helps keep your clients well informed at all times.
Benefits of having young lawyers in a law firm
Young lawyers hold more advantages for a client than experienced ones. Following are the reasons-
Young lawyers are closer to their legal education as they have just finished their studies. This helps them figure out a more innovative solution to support their clients by thinking of a greater legal imagination. Moreover, they are young and are prepared to take risks. This allows them to think out of the box while giving legal advice to their clients.
- Social understanding
Young lawyers know the latest trends in the modern world and understand social awareness and diversity well. On the other hand, the experienced ones are not very aware of the social scenarios in modern times. They are not comfortable with social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Since social media is an aspect of modern life, young attorneys are considered better.
- Peer understanding
Younger lawyers will understand the issue of younger clients better than experienced ones. As the politics between people have evolved and there are new issues, a young lawyer will be more capable of understanding them.
Since younger lawyers are starting their careers they have fewer clients. Less number of clients leads to fewer distractions and more focus on the available clients. This means they can give more of their time to their clients. Whereas, an experienced lawyer has more clients whom they have come across over their career. With the increase in the number of clients, they are not likely to treat each case with the devoted attention they must give.
As discussed above, young lawyers are good at adopting new technology and that is why they are ahead in the field. They have grown up using some of the technologies and are well aware of dealing with the issues that are arising due to these technologies.
Younger attorneys are approached more and are considered better, especially in law firms. But having both young and old attorneys on staff serves as the best option. It is a very natural situation that when people are faced with a legal issue, they would automatically flock towards that lawyer who holds the same beliefs as them. As for the older clients, it is natural that they would seek protection and support from the old and experienced lawyer. Similarly, younger clients will approach young lawyers.
Moreover, in the coming decade, India’s legal market is set to grow in a big way. Most law graduates are attracted to corporate opportunities. As it seems, they are demanding more and more bright graduates every year. Even the government is unable to secure high-quality legal services to these graduates which is equivalent to the legal service in the private corporate sector. Today, the corporate legal market of India is worth over a billion dollars and half of it is shared by foreign law firms. While meeting the challenges of the marketplace and globalization, India’s legal system focuses on supplying trained graduates in the private corporate sector. Many law schools in India focus mainly on supplying well-trained lawyers to the trial and judicial service so that the quality of justice for the common man is improved and strengthened.
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