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Govt proposes test for budding lawyers
January 15, 2010

Law booksLaw graduates will have to pass a test before they can become practising lawyers, if a government proposal on legal reforms is implemented.

According to a law ministry blueprint on Legal Reforms approved by the Union Cabinet, "The Advocates Act, 1961, may need to be re-visited in consultation with senior members of the Bar to consider re-introduction of mandatory apprenticeship before admission to the Bar and, possibly, the introduction of a qualifying exam for advocates."

The ministry said the qualifying exam for advocates should be similar to that prescribed for Advocates-on-Record of the Supreme Court.

The law ministry officials are already holding consultations with the Bar Council of India which is the regulating authority of the legal profession in the country.

"In view of the fact that there are varying levels of legal education in the country, additional course inputs to increase professional competence amongst members have to be encouraged," the proposal said.

The issue was discussed in detail between the government and the higher judiciary last year during national consultations on judicial reforms.

Union law minister M Veerappa Moily held a meeting on Wednesday with officials on legal education reforms in which several such suggestions and proposals were discussed. As of now, a law degree is the only criteria for getting registered as a lawyer and as per the Bar Council's website, there are over nine lakh registered lawyers as per a November, 2007 figure.

In 1996, the BCI had introduced a mandatory one year apprenticeship for law graduates before they could earn their licence to practice. The move was, however, struck down by the Supreme Court.

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