How to Start practicing Law in India ?

How to start practicing law in India , This article is for those fresh law graduates who are interested in practicing law as an advocate in Supreme Court , High Court and District Courts of India.

This article is written specifically for those fresh law graduates who are interested in practicing law as an advocate. Fresh Law Graduates who plan to join the corporate sector might not find anything interesting in it. So it is reiterated herein that the present article is specifically meant for such of the law graduates who wants to practice in Courts. There are generally 3 kinds of Judicial Courts in India. At the 1st tier is the District Courts (including The Judicial Magistrate’s and the Additional District Judges); the 2nd tier is the High Court; and at the 3rd tier is the Apex Court i.e. the Supreme Court of India. In this article, any reference to the District Court may kindly be taken as a reference to the Court of District & Sessions Judge, Additional District & Sessions Judge, CJM, Judicial Magistrates and Civil Judge Junior Division. This article tends to deal with the normal practice that should be undertaken by a fresh law graduates to practice in either of the courts mentioned above.

For practicing in Supreme Court of India

Before starting with the practice in the Supreme Court of India, it is highly advisable that one should spend and practice, Firstly, for some time in the District Courts where the foundation of most of the cases is laid down. District courts are the courts where the trial of civil and criminal cases takes place; the very foundation of majority of civil and criminal cases is laid down in these courts only. The whole procedural aspect of the case, including the production of evidence and proof thereof, whether it is in a civil case or a criminal case, is laid down in these Courts only. In fact, whole of the thinking process to be undertaken to deal with the case in hand including the pleas/stand to be taken in the plaint/case and the defenses to be taken in the written statement/reply are the brainchild of the advocates of the Trial Court which in most of the cases is the District Courts and such other Lower Courts.

How much time one should practice in District Court: Although there is no prescribed limit in any Code for the time to be spent as an Associate in the District Court, still it is advisable that one should spent around 12-15 months in the District Courts. This will enable the person to grasp the basics of law more fundamentally. Once you come to know how the Cases are to be drawn, the essential pleas to be taken, how to address the arguments etc., practice of law in the Supreme Court will be easier.

Under what kind of Advocate (in District Court) apprenticeship should be done: Where a person intends to finally practice in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, it is advisable to choose an Advocate who has miscellaneous work i.e. both Civil and Criminal work. Also try choosing an Advocate whose Case Diary is not filled with a lot many cases to handle. That is to say, an intelligent advocate with around 10-15 cases to be handled on daily basis, will do the trick. If you choose an advocate with heavy work, then he will not have any time to guide you or to answer any query put forth by you regarding the working of the Courts or about the cases.

Secondly practice in High Court: An aspirant of Supreme Court of India should first spend some time in the District Court and secondly, he should spend some-time as an Apprentice in the High Court. The time period to be spent in the High Court should be around at-least 6 months. In addition to the advocate dealing with Civil and Criminal Cases, you should try to choose an advocate dealing in Service matters as well.

Finally practice in the Supreme Court: After you have practiced in the District Court as also in the High Court, you are then finally ready to move to the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. But don’t think that you don’t need to work as an apprentice in the Supreme Court. Here also you have to choose a senior i.e. an Advocate under whom you must practice for some-time to learn about the working in that Court. Here you should practice as an apprentice till the time you are not confidant enough to handle the cases on an individual basis.

For practicing in the High Court of any State of India

Now, we shall discuss about how to start practice in the Hon’ble High Court. No matter how much anyone say, that for practicing in High Court no experience of District Court is required, but the truth is, be that as it may, an initial practice of a fresher as an apprentice in the District Court will always yield very good results when he starts practicing in the High Court. Matters such as deposing of witnesses, position of official witnesses qua personal witnesses, juvenile courts etc. are such issues which are mostly dealt with in the District and Lower Courts only. Such matters are seldom dealt with in the High Court or the Supreme Court. So, some practice in District Courts is certainly essential.

How much time one should practice in District Court before starting practice in High Court: As mentioned earlier, there is no prescribed limit in any Code for the time to be spent as an Associate in the District Court, still it is advisable that one should spent around 20-24 months in the District Courts, before starting practice in the High Court. The reasons are the same as given in the earlier paragraphs i.e. to enable the person to grasp the basics of law more fundamentally. Once you come to know how documents are exhibited or marked, how the documents are proved, how cases are to be drawn, the essential pleas to be taken, how to address the arguments, etc., practice of law in the High Court will be easier.

Under what kind of Advocate (in District Court) apprenticeship should be done: If you want to practice in the High Court, then they are two ways to pursue your apprenticeship in the District Court. Firstly, as advised in the earlier paragraphs, it is advisable to choose an Advocate who has miscellaneous work i.e. both Civil and Criminal work. Also try choosing an Advocate whose Case Diary contains only 10-15 cases to be dealt with daily so that he guide you with ample time on his hand. Secondly, what you can do is to practice for one year under a senior advocate who deals exclusively in the Civil Cases and then for another 8-12 months under a Senior Advocate who deals exclusively in the Criminal Cases. In this way you will have a deep rooted knowledge and can go through the some really serious and complicated Civil and Criminal Cases before you embark upon your journey in the High Court.

Finally practice in the High Court: After you have practiced in the District Court for some time period, then you are ready to move to the High Court. Initially, you have to work as an apprentice in the High Court as well. Here also you have to choose a senior i.e. an Advocate under whom you must practice for some-time to learn about the working in that Court. Here you should practice as an apprentice till the time you are not confidant enough to handle the cases on an individual basis. As the High Court also deals with Writ jurisdiction and service matters also, so try to take up the apprenticeship under the Advocate who deals with Service matters/Service law as well.

For practicing in the District Courts of any State of India

Under what kind of Advocate (in District Court) apprenticeship should be done: As said earlier, there are two ways to pursue your apprenticeship in the District Court. Firstly, as mentioned in the earlier paragraphs, it is advisable to choose an Advocate who has miscellaneous work i.e. both Civil and Criminal work. Also try choosing an Advocate whose Case Diary contains only 10-15 cases to be dealt with daily so that he guide you with ample time on his hand. Secondly, what you can do is to practice for some time under a senior advocate who deals exclusively in the Civil Cases and then for some time under a senior advocate who deals exclusively in the Criminal Cases. In this way you will have a deep rooted knowledge and can go through the some really serious and complicated Civil and Criminal Cases. However, if you want to continue with your practice in the District Courts, then the first method is more advisable than the second method. But here, you might need to spend around 3-5 years under training as an apprentice. This is because of the reason that for practicing in the District Courts, the art of cross-examination is very essential, which is very rare in the High Court and almost absent in the Supreme Court. The art of cross-examination is considered as a double edged weapon, which will either hurt the opponent or it will hurt the party itself. So, to learn this art, you must accompany your senior and give a close consideration to the question put by him to potential witnesses in the cross-examination. To learn the art of cross-examination, you must go through the case file before the day the cross-examination pertaining to that case is to take place.

KINDLY NOTE: The writer has written this Article based upon his practice in Punjab & Haryana High Court

Written By: JASTEJ SINGH, the writer of this article is practicing as an Advocate in the High Court of Punjab & Haryana; at Chandigarh.

 

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