Promoting Continuing Legal Education: A Step towards Implementing the Second Generation Legal Reforms for Creating Competent Lawyers in the New Century

Published date01 January 2015
Date01 January 2015
Subject MatterArticles
Military-Madrasa-Mullah Complex 29
India Quarterly, 66, 2 (2010): 133–149
A Global Threat 29
Promoting Continuing Legal
Education: A Step towards
Implementing the Second
Generation Legal Reforms
for Creating Competent
Lawyers in the New Century
Anirban Chakraborty1
Yashomati Ghosh2
An effective justice delivery system requires that justice be made available at the door step of
people and for that we should have talented, dedicated and qualified legal professionals who serve at
the grassroot level. The main focus of legal reform has historically been limited to improving infra-
structure for the judiciary, but the one aspect that has been ignored is the lawyer—the most basic
pillar of the judicial system. A lawyer must not only have improved legal skills but most importantly,
embody social responsibility and a strong professional ethics along with a commitment to the integrity
and working of the legal system. Continuing legal education is the need of the hour; legal education
should be dynamic rather than static. In order to keep lawyers abreast with the changing law in the
society, there is a need to organize seminars, conferences and workshops etc. very regularly and making
it mandatory for professional lawyers to attain the same. This can go a long way in enhancing the
standards and quality of the profession.
India has the second highest number of lawyers after the United States (US).3 According to the Bar
Council of India (BCI), there are approximately 12 lakhs registered advocates, around 950 law colleges
and approximately 4–5 lakhs law students across the country.4 This high number of law students accounts
1 Programme Manager, UNDP, India.
2 Assistant Professor, NLSIU, India.
3 Lalit Bhasin, Entry of Foreign Law Firms in India, 2(9) Manupatra news Line 5 (2007).
4 Vision Statement 2011–2013, Bar CounCiL of india, available at
of-india/vision-statement-2011-13/ (last visited July 15, 2014).
Asian Journal of Legal Education
2(1) 29–45
© 2015 The West Bengal National
University of Juridical Sciences
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/2322005814552753
Corresponding author:
Anirban Chakraborty is Programme Manager, UNDP, India.
30 Asian Journal of Legal Education 2(1)
for almost 3.05 per cent of the total enrolment of students in higher education in India.5 It has been
estimated that every year a large number of law graduates numbering between 60,000 and 70,000 join
the profession.6 The traditional functions of a lawyer were in the nature of legal counselling, drafting of
legal documents and undertaking court-related works such as appearing and pleading before the judicial
authorities. But in recent years, there has been a drastic change in the nature of law practice with the
process of liberalization and globalization of economy coming into the forefront of all our economic and
political activities.7
The traditional methodology of legal practice, mode of legal education, legal curriculum, litigation
based practice, rules governing professional standards, etc., have become inadequate to match up to the
challenging demands of the global citizens of the twenty-first century. The existing practice of ‘in-service’
training or ‘on the job’ professional development of lawyers has created a class of mediocre and below
par lawyers who lack the necessary knowledge and training to withstand the challenges of modern legal
practice. Legal profession in India is one of the very few professional courses which allows for admission
and enrolment for practice of law without the necessity to undertake any prior training, internship or
articleship under the supervision of the senior members of the profession.8 All these factors have
helped in creating a conscious recognition of the falling professional standards and quality of lawyers
in India.
There has been widespread acknowledgement about the necessity to bring in reforms to improve the
quality and standards of the legal profession. The Supreme Court in the leading case of V. Sudeer v. Bar
Council of India9 had recognized the falling standards of the legal profession and the crying need for
improving the standards of legal education and the requirements for new entrants to the legal profession
of being equipped with adequate professional skill and expertise.10
In light of this background and the recent observations made by the Shri Pranab Mukherjee, an attempt
has been made to highlight the importance of legal professionals in India and the necessity of Continuing
of Legal Education (CLE) programmes for their professional development, analyze the adequacy of the
existing efforts made in the field of CLE and make suggestions for effective improvement of such
programmes by drawing lessons from practices in other jurisdictions.
Role and Importance of Legal Practitioners in Society
The term ‘legal practitioner’ refers to all individuals who are involved with the practice of law and jus-
tice delivery system, including advocates, judges, law officers, law teachers, legal researchers, paralegal
volunteers, etc. The legal practitioners play an integral role in the social, economic and political environ-
ment of a country and have the potential to bring transformative changes in the lives of the common
people by protecting and promoting the rights of the citizens, particularly those of the vulnerable
sections of the society. Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Hon’ble President of India had recently observed that
‘The efficacy of the rule of law depends to a large extent on the integrity of lawyers who are the link
5 Baseline for the Working Committee on Legal Education, nationaL KnowLedge CoMMission, available at http://www. (last visited May 1, 2015)
6 Vision Statement 2011–2013, supra note 2.
7 Id.
8 V. Sudeer v. Bar Council of India, AIR 1999 SC 1167.
9 Id.
10 Id.

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