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What is the history of Legal Profession? How Legal Courses have developed recently?

12 min read

By Samriddhi Thakar

Introduction

The legal profession is most revered profession as it plays vital role in the world’s largest democracy. Each and everything is dependent on laws. It is one of the most emerging and interesting profession and the backbone of any country.

Lawyers play a pivotal role in the developing society and overcoming the challenges. Lawyers often serve as the voice of the people or groups who cannot speak or take a stand for themselves. Renowned lawyers such as Ram Jethmalani, Fali S Nariman, Harish Salve and many others have set a benchmark for all the budding lawyers of India.

The legal profession is the oldest and one of the noblest professions. The history can be traced back to the ancient times. Today, the legal profession has reached at great height.

Thus, this article deals with the history of legal profession and recent developments of legal courses.

What is the history of Legal Profession in India?

Ancient India

In India, during ancient times, the development of legal profession had not taken place. There were no lawyers to give justice to the people. The King was the head who used to give justice to the people.

The victim used to lodge his complaint with the King and then the king used to deliver judgement with the help of the religious heads and the counsellors. This was the process which continued for a long time.

British rule in India

The British introduced various legislations to develop the legal profession in India, some were:

  • Charter of 1726

Later, during the British regime a developed system of law was started in India. The need was felt to have a proper system of law to give justice to the people.

So, in the year 1726 a Mayor’s Court was established by the Judicial Charter of George I in the three presidency towns of Madras, Bombay and Calcutta. The Court had civil and testamentary jurisdiction. It had no jurisdiction over criminal cases.

The first judicial system was developed by Gerald Aungier in Bombay in the year 1670. He organized a lower court comprising 4-5 judges and a superior court which was presided by Deputy Governor and Council.

  • Regulating Act, 1773

The Regulating Act, 1773 empowered the King George III to establish a Supreme Court of Judicature in Calcutta. Hence, the Supreme Court was established in 1774. British barristers, Advocates and attorneys were the only people who were allowed to practice.

The Supreme Court had power to remove any advocate or attorneys by giving a reasonable ground for their removal. This Court enjoyed a wide jurisdiction in civil, criminal, admiralty, ecclesiastical matters etc.

  • High Court Act, 1861

In the year 1861, High Courts were established in the presidency towns. The two courts i.e., the Supreme Court and the Sadar Courts were merged to establish a High Court.

The High Court had combination of judges both from the Supreme Court and the Sadar Court hence the knowledge of English and native law officers got interconnected. Similarly, civil courts were also established in different towns. The criminal courts were also established under Criminal Procedure Code 1898.

  • India Bar Council Act, 1926

India Bar Council Act was enacted in the year 1926 to provide bar council to each High Court. The Bombay and Calcutta High Court allowed non-barristers Advocates to practice. Therefore, the distinction between the barristers and Advocates was abolished.

Post-Independence

  • All India Bar Committee, 1951

A major step in the transformation of legal practitioners was taken in 1951. An All-India Bar Committee was established under the chairmanship of Justice S.R Das of the Supreme Court. It recommended creation on unified National Bar.

Further, it was also suggested that the minimum qualification for admission of an Advocate should be a law degree obtained after at least a two year study of Law in the University after having first completed graduation in Arts, Science or Commerce.

The committee also stated that the establishment of an All-India Bar Council is very necessary. The committee in its report also stated establishment of State Bar Council for each state.

  • Advocates Act, 1961

In the year 1961, the Advocates Act was enacted to amend and consolidate the law relating to the legal practitioner and to provide for the constitution of Bar Councils and an All-India Bar. This Act has implemented the recommendation of the Bar Committee in the Law Commission with some modifications.

This Act has brought various changes in the legal profession of India. Further, this Act has undergone multiple amendments since its enactment.

  • Bar Council of India

The Bar Council of India is established under the Advocates Act, 1961. It regulates the legal practice and legal education of India. The members are elected from amongst the lawyers of India who as such represent the Indian Bar.

The functions of the Bar Council include laying down standards of professional conduct and etiquette for Advocates, procedure to be followed by disciplinary committees, safeguard the rights, privileges and interests of Advocates, promote and support law reform, promote legal education and lay down standards of legal education, etc. [1]

  • State Bar Council

The State Bar Council is also established under the Advocates Act, 1961. The State Bar Council makes rules for the legal profession and education in their respective states. They also act as representatives of the Advocates of that state.

The functions of State Bar Council include admitting persons as Advocates on roll, taking action upon the complaints made regarding the misconduct of Advocates on its roll, safeguard the right, privileges and interest of Advocates on its roll, promote and support law reforms, to organize legal aid to the poor etc. [2]

Thus, in this way the legal profession in India started gaining momentum and today it has reached to a great height.

What is the history of Legal Profession in England?

Ancient England

Earlier, the Courts in England were tied to local system of property ownership. The people were dependent on their lord and the ties they had to the land. Courts were basically the lords who knew the issues and they applied the understanding of customary rights.

Somewhere around twelfth century, the king tried to impose common law across England. He gave least importance to the judicial powers of the landlords. Further, the king-imposed king’s justice. He started sending his members to listen to the complaints of the people.

There is no evidence as to when the legal profession system started in England. After 12th century, professional Advocates and attorneys to mediate between the judges and the private litigants appeared.

Medieval England

In the middle of 13th century, first instance of legal profession of substantial size where men following law for living and subject to some form of discipline became visible. In the 14th century it was found that the pleaders in Common Bench were selected by the judges. A small group of Advocates dominated the bar before 1300.

Modern England

During the 17th century, various developments in legal profession started taking place. The attorneys were looked down by the barristers as they were considered as glorified clerks. The attorney directly came in contact with the client and referred the barristers when difficulties arose. The attorneys were engaged in conveyancing and drafting of pleas whereas the barristers acted as consulting experts.

Till 18th century, various branches of legal profession were existing. Further, an Act of 1729, attempted to impose and regulate the attorneys and solicitors.

At the same time, they also imposed a heavy taxation on the practitioners. Around 19th century, the solicitors had gained importance over other branches of profession. Furthermore, there remained only two branches of profession namely the barristers and the solicitors.

In 2003, Sir David Clementi was appointed to carry out an independent review of the regulatory framework for legal services in England and Wales. He made some recommendations which were accepted by the Government.

Further, Legal Services Act was passed in 2007. This new legislation was envisaged by Clementi. It had a huge impact on the legal profession. Thus, in this way legal profession in England started to prosper.

What are the recent developments of Legal Courses?

Legal profession is one of the most revered and interesting field one may enter. It enables a person to contribute towards the betterment of the society. It is intellectually stimulating, challenging and dynamic profession. Many renowned lawyers have helped people and made various changes in the society.

Earlier, the law profession was generally a family profession i.e. the students whose parents were in the law field used to enter in the same field. However, the scenario has changed since decades. Nowadays any person having traits, zeal and enthusiasm can opt for this course.

A career in legal profession gives respect and provides various opportunities to serve the society. For one to get a law degree, he/she needs to get enrolled in 3 years or 5 years course which is open for all after completing basic 12th examination from any stream.

Recently, with the advent of technology and emerging trends various courses have been developed. Law schools are now providing all-inclusive curriculum to the students. Law schools are learning ground for the students and a place where basic skills of students are shaped, foundation is built, and knowledge is enhanced.

Every law school provides activities such as moot courts, internships, field visits, research training etc. to enhance the skills of the students.

The legal profession has undergone various changes in past few decades. Earlier, the law education was very traditional. It was limited to some basic areas like litigation, family court, etc. One did not have more options and opportunities.

Jobs for lawyers were generally assisting junior Advocates. However, today the field of law has become wide. The number of students pursuing law has drastically increased with the emergence of corporate law. Corporate law is one of the emerging and most preferred field by the students.

Also due to vast technological advancements in the fields like artificial intelligence and law, cyber security, block chain and law, alternate dispute resolution mechanism, space law, big data analysis, machine learning etc. have been developed specially for the students.

The legal field is slowly adapting to the technology and incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology for research, drafting and small tasks. The courses for the same are also available for the students.

Today, due to pandemic the students are opting for certificate courses, diploma to boost their knowledge. Various websites are also offering multiple online courses to the students that can be completed by the students according to their time.

Thus, we can say that various courses have been developed according to the changing needs of the society.

The basic courses provided by the law education are as follows:

Undergraduate Courses in India

  • LLB- Bachelor of Legislative Law (One may pursue this course after completing a basic degree in any course.).
  • LL.B. (Hons.) – Bachelor of Legislative of Law (Honours) (One may pursue this course after completing 12th examination from any stream.)
  • BA LLB- Bachelor of Arts & Bachelor of Legislative of Law (One may pursue this course after completing 12th examination from any stream.)
  • BA LLB(Hons.)- Bachelor of Arts & Bachelor of Legislative of Law (Honours) (One may pursue this course after completing 12th examination from any stream.)
  • BBA LLB- Bachelor of Business Administration & Bachelor of Legislative of Law (One may pursue this course after completing 12th examination from any stream.)
  • BBA LLB (Hons.)- Bachelor of Business Administration & Bachelor of Legislative of Law (Honours) (One may pursue this course after completing 12th examination from any stream.)
  • B. Com LLB- Bachelor of Commerce & Bachelor of Legislative of Law (One may pursue this course after completing B. Com degree.)
  • B. Com LLB(Hons.)- Bachelor of Commerce & Bachelor of Legislative of Law (Honours) (One may pursue this course after completing 12th examination from any stream.)
  • B.SL LLB- Bachelor of Socio-Legal Sciences & Bachelor of Law (One may pursue this course after completing 12th examination from any stream.)
  • BSc LLB- Bachelor of Science & Bachelor of Legislative of Law
  • BSc LLB (Hons.) -Bachelor of Science & Bachelor of Legislative of Law (Honours) (One may pursue this course after completing 12th examination from any stream.)
  • B. Tech LLB- Bachelor of Technology & Bachelor of Legislative Law (One may pursue this course after completing B. Tech degree.) (One may pursue this course after completing 12th examination from any stream.)

Postgraduate Courses in India

The Postgraduate courses provides an advanced theoretical and practical knowledge to the students. Many students opt for LLM courses to increase their knowledge and enhance their portfolio.

Initially, the duration for LLM course was a period of two years. Later, the duration was reduced to one year. However, recently Bar Council of India (BCI) has abolished the one-year LLM course. The Bar Council of India (BCI) stated that two-year postgraduate degree in law is recognisable and a one-year LLM is not adequate.

Further, the Council also stated that anyone-year LLM obtained from a foreign university will not be recognised in India.[3] Following is the list of the postgraduate options available for students of India:

  • LL.M. (Business Law) – Master of Legislative Law in Business Law
  • LL.M. (Constitutional Law & Administrative Law) – Master of Law in Constitutional Law & Administrative Law
  • LL.M. (Constitutional Law) – Master of Legislative Law in Constitutional Law
  • LL.M (Corporate and Securities Law)- Master of Law in Corporate and Securities Law
  • LL.M. (Corporate and Financial Law) – Master of Law in Corporate and Financial Law
  • LL.M (Criminal Law)- Master of Law in Criminal Law
  • LL.M. (Criminal Law and Criminology – Master of Law in Criminal Law and Criminology
  • LL.M. (Energy Law)- Master of Law in Energy Laws
  • LL.M (Human Rights)- Master of Law in Human Rights
  • LL.M (Environmental Law) – Master of Law in Environmental Law
  • LL.M (International Law, Constitutional Law and Human Rights) – Master of Law in International Law, Constitutional Law and Human Rights
  • LL.M (Intellectual Property Laws) – Master of Law in Intellectual Property Rights
  • LL.M. (International Environmental Rights) – Master of Law in International Environmental Rights
  • LL.M. (International Trade Law) – Master of Law in International Trade Law
  • LL.M (Labour Law and Administrative Law) – Master of Law in Labour Law and Administrative Law
  • LL.M. (International Law, Constitutional Law and Human Rights) – Master of Law in International Law, Constitutional Law and Human Rights
  • LL.M (Corporate Law)- Master of law in Corporate Law
  • LL.M (Labour Law) – Master of Law in Labour Law
  • LL.M. (Mercantile Law) – Master of Law in Mercantile Law
  • LL.M. (Hons.) – Master of Legislative Law Honours

Diploma Courses Available in India

Diploma courses is a great option for the students. The students can complete their diploma in any subject side by side with their UG course. Not only that any person wanting to have an extra knowledge or information can opt diploma course.

It is ideal for all the UG students. Some courses related to diploma in India are as follows:

  • Diploma in Criminal Law
  • Diploma in Business Law
  • Diploma in Corporate Laws and Management
  • Diploma in Co-operative Law
  • Diploma in Cyberlaws
  • Diploma in Criminology
  • Diploma in Human Rights Law
  • Diploma in Information Technology Laws
  • Diploma in Labour Laws
  • Diploma in Labour Laws & Labour Welfare
  • Diploma in International Laws
  • Diploma in Taxation Laws
  • Diploma in Women Studies & Gender Justice
  • Diploma in Intellectual Property Rights[4]

Certificate Courses in India

Various certificate courses are also available in India. Anyone wanting to enhance knowledge on any topic can go for certificate courses which are available. The positive aspect of certificate course is that it can be completed in short span of time.

Nowadays many educational websites offer multiple certificate courses for the students and those courses can be completed by a student at any time. There is no time limit prescribed. Following are most common courses chosen by the students:

  • Certificate Course in Cyber Law
  • Certificate Course in Business Law
  • Certificate Course in Corporate Law
  • Certificate Course in Insurance Law
  • Certificate Course in Human Rights
  • Certificate Course in Consumer Protection
  • Certificate Course in Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Certificate Course in Goods and Service Tax (GST)
  • Certificate Course in Maritime Law
  • Certificate Course in Aviation Law
  • Certificate Course in Fashion Law
  • Certificate Course in Intellectual Property and Management

Conclusion

Legal profession is one of the oldest professions known to the mankind. It one of the important professions which tries to maintain balance between the legislative and the people. Law in any society is particularly important as it keeps check on the mal practices and regulates the society. A world without law would be complete chaos.

Law brings order in society. The Advocates, judges also play a key role in maintaining peace in the society. Hence, it is rightly said that law is the “noble profession”.

References

  1. The Advocates Act, 1961, section 7
  2. The Advocates Act, 1961, section 6
  3. M Saraswathy ,What is the conflict around abolition of the one year LLM course?, “money control” available at: moneycontrol.com (last visited on 25 June, 2021)
  4. Simran Saini, List of Law Courses in India, available at: .collegedekho.com (last visited on 25 June, 2021)