National Law School - Negative Report

Two very significant changes have come into the field of law over the past few decades, and this could be the reason for the fall in standards of legal knowledge and practice.

First, our law-teaching is now completely de-linked from the English system that prevailed until about fifty years ago. I studied law over sixty years ago, at Ernakulam. Some years ago, I appeared before an Australian Arbitrator in a case involving Gulf Air and the IATA on the opposite side. I argued my case for over two hours, after which one lawyer from Geneva (for IATA) and another from London for Gulf Air replied. Both of them started with wholesome appreciation of my method of arguing, especially the Latin and English maxims used to emphasise important points. Asked if I had studied in England and was a Barrister, I said I studied in a remote city in South, but the syllabus and the text books followed were the same as in England. They, and with them the Arbitrator wanted their appreciation to be recorded in the award of the Arbitrator. A whole paragraph was devoted for this, to my pleasant surprise. I mention this with pride, but more to stress that the system of education and the methodology count a lot in making a good lawyer. To-day, it is looked at more like getting a licence to drive or to fly.

Second, the content of legal practice has changed wholly. In my days, legal work was, mostly, reactive. That is, people go to a lawyer only when they are in trouble. The lawyer then has to work up to defend his client with whatever possible defences are available. Good cases were seldom lost, and bad ones were rarely won. This situation has changed completely. Everyone goes to the lawyer pro-actively, since no one has the time or inclination to run into troubles. Therefore, the lawyers of to-day have the leisure and the standard formats to document transactions, with the least risk of later misunderstandings or breaches. A whole lot of standard documents are available for any kind of transaction, only few changes need to be incorporated to take care of special needs of clients. This is akin to mass-production, involving very little skill or creativity. Most lawyers, to-day, operate at this level and make a prosperous career.

In an age where money takes precedence over everything else, reverting to the old system is unwise, impossible.


Senior Advocate


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