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No role models for young lawyers

BRIGHT YOUNG lawyers do not have role models anymore. Senior lawyers are too pre-occupied with their own careers to teach the ?tricks of the trade? to their juniors however sincere the juniors may be. This is the plight of almost every junior lawyer today. He has to fend for himself as the institution of senior-junior lawyers, much like the guru-shishya parampara, has collapsed. Many promising lawyers leave the profession in utter disgust.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2006 01:01 IST

BRIGHT YOUNG lawyers do not have role models anymore. Senior lawyers are too pre-occupied with their own careers to teach the ‘tricks of the trade’ to their juniors however sincere the juniors may be. This is the plight of almost every junior lawyer today. He has to fend for himself as the institution of senior-junior lawyers, much like the guru-shishya parampara, has collapsed. Many promising lawyers leave the profession in utter disgust.

There was a time when junior lawyers used to join the chamber of some senior lawyer and after staying there for at least five years, learnt the skills of legal profession. The senior lawyers used to allot cases to the junior counsels and also used to pay money to them. Often, after a training of ten to fifteen years, a junior left the chamber of the senior lawyer to start legal profession independently.

Now, unfortunately this institution has completely collapsed. In most of the chambers, junior counsels are not permitted by the senior counsels to draft his case and argue the same. He is also not paid money by the senior counsel. Quite a number of senior counsels often exploit the junior counsels by allotting them the task to watch the cases, which are listed before the court, and inform the senior counsels when the case is likely to be taken up by the court.

This has given rise to frustration among the young lawyers, as they have no forum where they can learn the skills of legal profession. Whenever, a junior counsel gets a case, he has no option but to engage a senior counsel to draft and argue it.

A handsome amount of money passes to the senior counsels and the juniors get peanuts. “Now, the junior counsels face the problem of survival in this profession. Most of the senior counsels have adopted an indifferent attitude towards them. They neither allot the cases to junior counsels for drafting and arguments, nor pay any money to them. They only exploit the junior counsels by allotting such tasks like, watching the court proceedings and informing the senior counsels when his case is likely to be taken up,’’, says a junior counsel.
He says that this is the reason why the young law graduates preferred to join the government services rather than joining the legal profession.

However, a senior lawyer of Allahabad High Court, though fully agreeing with the problems being faced by the junior lawyers, had somewhat different views. According to him, in our present day professional system of law practice, there is no better way for a junior advocate to learn the professional skills than joining a senior advocates’ chamber. However, according to him, there are two reasons for non-success of this system. One, the senior lawyers do not pay the juniors adequately and regularly. Secondly, senior advocates are not under any obligation or regulation to pay the junior advocates since it is their privilege to keep a junior or not. Therefore, the new aspirants in this profession are at the mercy of the senior advocates and cannot claim anything.

However, this is the time tested and old tradition and juniors generally join the chambers of seniors in order to learn the art of advocacy and court practices. “In my view seniors must be legally obliged by the Bar Council to keep junior advocates for a fixed tenure of about three years or so and must pay them any minimum amount to train them as competent lawyer of professional integrity,’ he said.
(The writer is HT Law Reporter and practicing lawyer at Allahabad High Court)

First Published: Feb 20, 2006 01:01 IST