It will test skills, basic knowledge critical for new entrant

Law graduates passing out from this year and intending to take up legal practice will have to pass an all-India Bar examination to be conducted by the Bar Council of India on December 5.

Every graduate after enrolment as lawyer in the respective State Bar Council will have to clear this examination, which will test skills and basic knowledge critical for a new entrant to the profession.

?Eligibility check'

?It is intended to check for eligibility, rather than expertise,? BCI Chairman and Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam said here on Wednesday, after launching the BCI's Vision Statement 2010-2012, which addresses the challenges before the legal profession and creating solutions.

The examination would be held once in six months and anyone failing in the first test could re-appear.

?A legal consultancy firm, Rainmaker, will assist the BCI in conducting and managing the test in nine languages and in preparing the material for the test, for which it would collect Rs. 1,300 from each candidate.?

Mr. Subramaniam said: ?The Indian legal profession consists of approximately 11 lakh registered advocates, around 1,000 law schools and approximately 5 lakh law students. Every year, approximately 60,000 law graduates join the legal profession.?

Asked whether the BCI had taken permission from the Human Resource Development Ministry for conducting the test, Mr. Subramaniam said the council, as a statutory body, was not dependent on its approval.

On entry of foreign lawyers, Mr. Subramaniam said the BCI was opposed to it. Unlike in other countries, in India there was a standard of practice maintained by lawyers and they were not governed by earning money alone. ?The stage of allowing foreign lawyers has not yet come.? The BCI was open to a debate on this issue.

Bill on legal education

Talking to journalists, Law Minister Veerappa Moily said the Bill proposed by the HRD Ministry, touching on certain aspects of legal education, would be taken up at an inter-ministerial meeting and differences sorted out.

He said the legal profession was governed by the Advocates Act and no Bill would be possible without amending the Act.

BCI Vice-Chairman R. Dhanapal Raj and members of various State Bar Councils were present at the launch of the Vision Statement.