Development of Legal Profession in India


The legal profession is an important branch of the administration of justice mechanism. Without a well-organized legal profession, the courts would not be in a position to administer justice effectively, as the evidence for or against the parties to a lawsuit cannot be adequately gathered, the facts cannot be adequately expressed, and the best legal arguments in support of or against the case of the parties cannot be presented in court. Although it has a federal structure, the distinctive character of India according to Constitution has an effect on the country to have a merged bar. The pre-constitutional legal framework had to go through a modification in the scene of the struggle of the people of India to achieve their liberation from the colonial rulers and the eventual takeover of a Democratic-Republican Constitution.

The Indian legal profession is one of the most widespread in the world, with more than 1.4 million registered lawyers across the country. The approximate total value of the Indian legal market as of 2020 was approximately USD 1.25 billion. The legal profession, which developed out of colonial India, has seen great variation since its independence. The hard work of the members of the bar to achieve excellence in all areas of their practice through rigid competition is not only evident in each of their confrontations with new challenges due to technological and other growth, but also in the recognition received by them in the world. Historically, members of the bar association have offered guidance both nationally and internationally. Today the possibilities are much greater.

History of the legal profession in India

The history of the legal profession in India can be traced back to the establishment of the First British Court in Bombay in the year 1672 by the respective Governor Aungier. Admissions of attorneys were placed in the hands of the Governor in Council and not in Court. Before the establishment of the Greater Courts in 1726 in Madras and Calcutta, there were no legal experts in India. There was no established legal profession until the establishment of the Mayor’s Court. Lawyers lacked legal training, and some of the mayor’s court officials were dismissed servants of the British East India Company. There were some years that played an important role in the creation of courts in India.

The legal profession in ancient India

In ancient India, people lived in small groups. The heads of these groups or tribes pronounced justice in public before all members. Arguments were presented openly. In those days, there were no specialists like lawyers. When kings established themselves in society, they dispensed justice. At the royal court, the king was advised by his advisors. The law of those days had its roots in Hindu religion and customs. Dharma was protected by the king. Though there were no bar associations, some intellectuals ensured justice. From the stories of Maryada and Vikramaditya, who were the sage who solved the critical cases of those days. In those days, justice was administered by administrators. For a time, religious leaders dominated society in the administration of justice. In those days, the victim filed a complaint with the king and later the court summoned the accused to present his response. The court then investigated the matter based on the evidence. The king followed the advice of the religious leaders and wise courtiers and then passed his sentence.

The legal profession in medieval India

During the medieval period, there has been no group of the criminal profession. But each event to the litigation called their Vakils. This frame comes to a decision the case and that they have been paid a percentage of the quantity of the claim. The Court has the authority to determine who needs to be allowed to seem as Vakils. They act as agents for the directors, however now no longer as attorneys. The identical device persevered in northern India even beneath neath the guideline of thumb of the East India Company.

The legal profession in British India

During the British period, the current legal system evolved in India. Before 1726, the courts derived their authority now no longer from the British crown however from the East India Company.

Mayors court

In the Charter of 1726, which established the Courts of the Mayor’s Office in the three cities of the Presidency, no specific provision was made that established particular requirements for the persons who would have the right to act or advocate as lawyers in these courts. Presumably, these courts were left to regulate this matter by rules of practice that these courts were authorized to frame. No change was made to this position when a new Charter was issued in 1753. No organized legal profession emerged in the Presidential Cities during the period of the court of the Mayor. Those who practiced law lacked legal training or legal knowledge. They had adopted the profession for want of something better to do. Many of these alleged attorneys were dismissed employees of the Company.

Madras and Bombay regulations

Madras Regulation X of 1802 literally copied Bengal Regulation VII of 1793 with minor verbal attractions. One notable difference is that the plaintiffs were allowed to stipulate more, but not less, than the regulatory fee they were paid. Madras Regulation XIV of 1816 was inspired by Bengal Regulation XXVII of 1814. It provided some decentralization of the powers of the courts over Vakils. In Bombay, Regulation XIV of 1802 was a consolidating regulation based entirely on the Bengal regulation verbatim with minor variations here and there. Further consolidation of the regulations relating to lawyers was affected by Regulation I of 1827, which repealed all previous Regulations on the subject. The Regulations went far beyond the Bengal regulations, for example, every duly qualified person had the right to obtain sand to practice without any admitted reference to practice in court, and henceforth any qualified person of good character was promulgated between the Vakil and the client was recognized and a lawyer could agree with his client a higher or lower rate than the established rate.

Mukhtars, and Revenue Agents

For an extended time, unlicensed decrease grades of practitioners functioned withinside the mofussil, called mukhtars, who practiced in criminal courts and acted as legal professionals for the leaders. There also are appearing revenue sellers in sales workplaces. All of those had been identified and taken beneath neath the management of the courts for the primary time via Act XX of 1865, Mukhtar and Revenue Agents. The Superior Courts had been legal to dictate the guidelines for the qualifications, admission, and registration of the proper persons be the leader, Mukhtars, for the charge to be paid for the exam, admission, and registration. Tax sellers operating in tax places of work and courts additionally obtained the fame of legal professionals beneath neath this law. They had been taken into consideration to be the bottom grade and did now no longer play a vast function withinside the improvement of the legal profession.

Development of legal profession in India after Independence

In 1951, the All-India Bar Committee was formed under the chairmanship of Justice S.R. Das. In its report, the committee recommended the establishment of an All-India Bar Council and State Bar Councils. It recommended the powers of registration, suspension, or dismissal of the lawyers of the Bar Association. He recommended that the common role of defenders is maintained and that they be authorized to practice in all the country’s courts. Furthermore, it recommended that no more lawyers or undergraduate mukhtars be hired. The Fifth Law Commission of India made similar recommendations in its fourteenth report.

Advocate’s Act,1961

The Advocate’s Act of 1961 amended and mixed the regulation referring to criminal experts and gave for the charter of the State Bar Councils and an All-India Bar Association, the Bar Council of India as its principal body. The Indian Council of Lawyers includes the Attorney General of India and the Attorney General of India as Ex-Officio individuals, in addition to an elected member from every State Bar Council. The contributors of the State Bar Councils are elected for a duration of 5 years. Some distinguished functions of the Bar Council of India are:

(1) Establish requirements of expert behaviour and courtesy for defenders;

(2) Establish the mechanism to be observed via way of means of your healing committee.

(3) Promote and help criminal reform.

(4) Updating criminal schooling and enjoyable the requirements of such information in discussions with the Indian universities that transmit such schooling and the Councils of the State Bar Association.

(5) Adjust criminal help to the bad withinside the prescribed manner;

(6) Recognize on a reciprocal foundation overseas qualification in regulation received out of doors of India at the grounds of admission as suggest in India.

The Indian Bar Association is chaired via way of means of a President and Vice President, who’re decided on from the council contributors for a duration of years. Each of the states of India has a State Bar Council. Each of the State Bar Councils has a specific range of contributors relying upon the numerical power of the legal professionals on their lists, who’re elected as contributors of the State Bar council consistent with the proportional illustration system.

Legal education

The Indian Bar Association is responsible for the promotion of legal education and sets the standards of legal knowledge in consultation with the universities. The Bar Association accepts legal education centers and also prescribes various types and standards of courses of study, admission capacity, infrastructure demands, and course structures.

The Bar Association also visits and audits these legal education centers as part of its statutory functions. The Bar Association was also responsible for driving the next level of evolution in legal knowledge in the country by establishing the first National University of India Law School in Bangalore. The inception of this premier law school has brought about a paradigm shift in law teaching and research.

Bar Council of India trust

The Bar Council of India Trust is a charitable public trust aimed at further legal research and education. The Trust produces a quarterly publication known as the “Indian Bar Review”. It also runs a national moot court competition and a variety of seminars and workshops as part of its ongoing Legal Education Program. A scholarship and placement scheme for young attorneys was initiated in order to provide financial assistance to the best candidates, which is being followed by the trust.


The Advocate’s Act of 1961 ushered in a new era in the history of the legal profession by conferring to a large extent on bar boards the power and jurisdiction previously exercised by the courts. It has fulfilled the aspirations of those who had been demanding an All-India Bar Association and effecting a unification of the Bar Association in India by creating a single class of practitioners empowered to practice in all courts. They are now subject to the rules established in the code of conduct established by their own bodies to which members can turn for the protection of their rights, interests, and privileges.

Therefore, the legal profession can play a fundamental role in the defence of individual rights and in the effective dissemination of justice, while acting as an integrating force in national life. It is now part of the modern legal system that provides both the personnel and the techniques for efficient rational utility. The responsibility of this profession towards Indian society is really great, as has been its history.

However, not all that glitters is gold. The responsibility that the Indian Bar Association has to society and the challenge it faces today testify that the Indian Bar Association has not risen to the level to fulfill its functions. The highest obligation is to provide free legal aid to the “destitute and oppressed.” This obligation is subject to the limits of the economic condition of the lawyer. But we know that even superstar attorneys whose financial conditions are exceedingly prosperous even summarily refuse to see an indigent person in dire need of legal assistance. Most high-profile attorneys steer clear of state legal aid programs. Unless the bar leaders do some introspection and put the profession back on the rails, all we are left with is an occupation and not a profession.

Also Read – Rights of an advocate in India

Udita Prakash

I am Udita Prakash, pursuing a BBA LLB course from UPES, Dehradun.