Legal Profession in India by UTKARSHINI SINHA @lexcliq

The legal profession of India is one of the largest in the world. It has over 1.4 million advocates, enrolled, nationwide. In the year 2010, the estimated value of the Indian legal market was around USD 1.25 billion. Also, the legal profession in India has had a very interesting history which evolved to a great extent and is still evolving. The members of the bar continue to strive to achieve excellence in their practice through stiff competition. They deal regularly with newer challenges due to the frequent developments in law and technology.

The Legal Profession has always been an important limb for administration of justice. Without, profession of law, the courts would not be in a position to administer and provide justice efficiently as the evidence in support or against the parties to a suit cannot be legitimately marshalled, facts cannot be properly articulated and the appropriate legal arguments in favour or against the case of the parties cannot be put forth before the court. “A well-organized system of judicial administration proposes a properly equipped and proficient Bar.”

The modern legal profession in India has frontier roots, emerging with the advent of Mayor’s Courts in Madras and Calcutta in 1726. However, it was not until 1846, through the Legal Practitioner’s Act, that the doors of profession were thrown open to all those duly qualified, certified and of good character, irrespective of nationality or religion. Women were still excluded from the profession at this stage, to be thereafter admitted through the Legal Practitioner’s (Women) Act, III of 1923. The legal profession in India, which includes both the practice of law as well as professional legal education, is regulated by the Advocates Act, 1961.The Bar Council of India (BCI) is envisaged under the Advocates Act as a body for regulating the minimum standards to be maintained by institutions imparting legal education in India. The reformation of legal education in India undertaken since the late 1980s at the initiative of the BCI, the University Grants Commission (UGC), the Law Commission of India and various state governments has led to the establishment of various national law schools in India in the last two decades. India has the second largest population of lawyers in the world, second only to the United States. Many persons admitted that practice law in India has gradually increased from about 70,000 at time of Independence in 1947 to some 1.25 million in 2014.

India has a recorded legitimate history beginning from the Vedic ages and some kind of common law framework might have been set up amid the Bronze Age and the Indus Valley civilization. Notwithstanding this, the advancement of “law” as a calling is just a late wonder. The Indian legitimate calling is one of the biggest on the planet and assumes a fundamental part on the planet’s biggest vote based system. While the bases of this calling lie before Independence, from that point forward the calling has developed enormously and as of now faces different difficulties; the most imperative being to give access over the calling, guarantee moral establishments and modernize the practice no matter how you look at it.

History of Legal Profession of India

The history of the legal profession in India can be track from the establishment of the First British Court in Bombay in the year of 1672 by respective Governor Aungier. The admissions of attorneys were placed in hands of Governor-in-Council and not with the Court. Before the establishment of Mayor’s Courts in 1726 in Madras and Calcutta, there were no legal experts in India.

Mayor’s Courts- There was no established legal profession until the establishment of the Mayor’s Court. Those who practised law were devoid of legal training and some of the functionaries under the Mayor’s courts were dismissed servants of the British East India Company. There were some years which played important roles in setting up the courts in India.

The Advocates Act, 1961

After the establishment of the Advocates Act ,1961 all the old classes of experts and legal practitioners (vakils, barristers, pleaders of various grades, and mukhtars) were abolished and were compiled into a single category known as “Advocates” who enjoys the privilege to practice in courts throughout the India. The Advocates Act also additionally establish an All India Bar Council for the first time in history of India, with the Attorney-General and Solicitor General of India as the ex- officio members of Bar Council. The All India Bar Council has one member selected by each State Bar Council and it selects its own Chairman and Vice Chairman. The Act has created a State Bar Council in each ad every State with the Advocate General of the State as an ex- officio member, and fifteen to twenty-five Advocates elected for a time period of five years. The State Council’s important functions include: enrolling law graduates on its Roll, conducting cases of misconduct against Advocates on the Roll and to organize legal aid, among other functions. Application for enrolment is therefore made to the State Bar Council.


There are some striking features of the Indian legal profession that are quite similar to those of the pre-independence era. These features are enumerated as follows:

(a) Individualistic Approach – Lawyers in India, mostly practice by themselves i.e. they have their own chamber/office assisted by clerks and a few juniors depending on their seniority. The lawyers who practice individually are more inclined towards the practice of litigation. While in the case of the law firms, most of them are not oriented towards litigation, and instead prefer the modern field of Corporate Law.

(b) Many lawyers are oriented towards the courts. So if an advocate practices at an Allahabad High Court, he will dedicate most of his time to that particular court. However, nowadays, the lawyers have started flocking to other courts too, but such cases are not that frequent.

(c) Courtroom advocacy continues to remain the pivotal point of the profession. In Indian Courts, it is often observed that oral arguments are given reference over the written submissions. It is a reflection of the dominance of the English barrister model in the Indian bar system and, with the kind of prevalent remuneration structure; it only reinforces its dominance.


Some main functions of the Bar Council of India are:

(1) To lay down standards of professional conduct and etiquettes for the advocates;

(2) To lay down the procedure to be followed by its disciplinary committee and the disciplinary committee of each State Bar Council;

(3) To promote and support law reforms;

(4) To promote legal education and to lay down standards of such education in consultation with the Universities in India imparting such education and the State Bar Councils;

(5) To organize legal aid to the poor in the prescribed manner;

(6) To recognize foreign qualifications in law obtained outside India for the purpose of admission as an advocate in India on a reciprocal basis.


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