Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Bar Council of India Chairman's Vision Statement 2010-2012

BCI Chairman's Vision Statement 2010-2012

“Ensuring equality before the law and the supremacy of the rule of law in the Indian democracy.”

I am proud to present to you and to connect you to the legal profession in India. In the largest democracy in the world, the role of the legal profession cannot be underestimated as it is the law and the delivery of justice that serve as the conscience of a nation and the foundation of the society that India is, and will become, in the years to come.

In spite of the wear and tear and the erosion suffered during the passage of time, the legal fraternity in India continues to be an influential seat of society and the legal profession carries with it the identity of a noble and learned profession, which has produced great leaders for India (including during our freedom struggle). However, our profession finds itself at the crossroads today and it is the path that we choose that will surely influence the future of India as a true democracy.

On the one hand we face a prosperous future as a country with a growing economy and the aspirations of a billion Indians unleashed upon the world. On the other we see massive inequities, shortfalls in education/health/infrastructure, delivery of justice and various other ills moving at a similar pace. In such a scenario, the need for a stronger, more robust and ethically driven legal profession in India cannot be overemphasised.

The Indian legal profession today consists of approximately 11 lakh (1.1 million) registered advocates, around 1,000 law schools and approximately 5 lakh (0.5 million) law students across the country. Every year, approximately 60,000 law graduates join the legal profession in India. These broad estimates also contain within them a rapidly growing (and international quality) corporate legal sector and a nascent outsourced legal process services sector. One need only understand the size of the Indian legal profession to appreciate the important and immense nature of the task at hand.

In order for us to strengthen every single member and area of the profession, it is necessary for us to realistically introspect to identify the various challenges that we collectively face today. The issues that plague the profession today are not unique or specific to only one part but are systemic issues that need to be dealt with keeping in mind the connect between the different parts of the profession.

These issues broadly are:

Inadequate quality of legal education and infrastructure
Lack of relevant skills training to meet with the ever-changing demands of the modern world
Lack of clear data on the profession for assessment and efficient distribution of resources
Low absorption of technology and lack of connect with different parts of a modern economy
Lack of entry point and continuous assessment mechanisms to ensure the continuous growth and improvement of the legal profession
Lack of awareness and ideation about the heritage, tradition, and culture of the legal profession, and levels of excellence within the legal profession, and a consequent lack of motivation to fulfil the highest aspirations within the profession
Lack of the ability to ensure access to basic human rights to the poor and marginalised sections of society, and the realisation of the vision of the Indian lawyer as an effective social engineer
While each of the above problems can be seen in isolation, it is their cumulative effect that has a negative bearing on the identity of the entire Indian legal profession. Irrespective of the success any part of the profession may achieve, it will always carry along with it the positives and negatives of our collective identity and hence every part of the profession is a stakeholder in this identity.

It is in this light that the Bar Council of India is seeking to connect, create and implement large-scale solutions to strengthen the Indian lawyer and the Indian legal profession by March 31, 2012.

These solutions will be aimed at all aspects of the profession, but the highest priority would be on the following areas:

Raising the quality of the bar through entry-level assessment and continuous education and training
Providing access to knowledge and information resources (embracing a multi-disciplinary approach) to all parts of the legal profession
Creating a database of lawyers, law schools, academia and law students across the country so that resources can be efficiently deployed and common platforms can be created
Creating clear quality standards for legal education and a common entry level standard for entering law schools across the country
Creating a system of access to hardware and software resources, as well as training on the use of technology across the profession
Establishing a strong system of connect between the legal profession and the weakest sections of society, so as to provide effective legal aid, and the fulfilment of the profession’s role as an agent of social justice and equity
Improving interaction between the bar and the judiciary so as to establish a common platform to collectively address problems facing justice delivery in India
Identifying clear values and standards so that the legal profession is fearlessly independent and of robust character
Through a combination of the above, raising the confidence and skills of the constituents of the legal profession, thereby improving the identity of the profession as a whole
As a statutory body having access to the entire legal profession (including the senior leadership of law officers in India) the Bar Council of India will reach out to all parts of the legal profession and create long-term solutions in each of these areas. The Bar Council of India also undertakes to conduct itself in a transparent and approachable manner so as to reflect the thoughts and aspirations of the Indian legal profession.

We look forward to the support of the entire legal profession in our collective endeavour to create a modern legal profession that does justice to its heritage, aspirations, obligations and competence.

Gopal Subramanium, Bar Council of India


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