Monday, February 08, 2010

Opportunities in the Legal Profession: Synopsis of a lecture

By Nina Nariman, III Year, LL.B., Campus Law Centre, Delhi University.

[Synopsis of the 2nd lecture in the series ‘60 years of the Indian Constitution’ delivered by Mr. T.R. Andhyarujina, Former Solicitor General of India, on February 6 at Campus Law Centre, Delhi University.]

Mr. T.R. Andhyarujina began with a quote by Justice Frankfurter of the United States Supreme Court: “No one can be a truly competent lawyer unless he’s a cultivated man”-suggesting that while the degree is an easy accomplishment, to be a competent lawyer one must be well read in a liberal education.

He went on to discuss the various avenues open to a freshly graduated student. He spoke of the merits of an LL.M. Degree, whether in India or abroad, as it leads to the broadening of the mind.

He spoke of the vast areas of employment open to a law graduate today: one can find employment in the corporate sector, litigation or in solicitors’ firms. In fact, he said that most great Statesmen were lawyers, and law can be used as a stepping stone for politics or the Indian Administrative Services. He however, advocated that a student serious about law must first get much needed experience in the lower courts. He spoke of the great need for grassroots’ lawyers in our country to deal with the travails of the common man. He also spoke of the need for good lawyers to take up judgeship – while there may be more money in litigation, a judge’s work is more satisfying.

While dealing specifically with the practice of law, he spoke of the basic ingredients needed for success: dedication, hard work and courage. He said that while some lawyers, like Nani Palkhivala had native genius, most are ordinary and they succeed through the dint of their persistence, as Justice Cardozo put it, their “plodding mediocrity”. Thus, while being genius need not be the basis for success in the legal profession, “plodding” or meticulous work is.

While discussing the Bar, he spoke of the need to emulate the good practices of foreign Bars; for instance, in England one is taught not to raise their voice unduly or be excessively aggressive. While speaking of the reputation of the legal profession, he said that people associate it with acquisitiveness and deception. However, we as students should not be deterred by this reputation. He went on to talk about the place of women in the legal profession and urged the ladies present not to think of the law as a male dominated profession. He said that Delhi was ahead of the other States in this regard with nine lady judges and a large number of female lawyers.

He concluded by saying that although the law is a jealous mistress, let it not devour you.
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