To raise the bar, IIT-Kharagpur discussed the annual course for lawyers
NEW DELHI: Two years ago, a study funded by the IIT-Kharagpur government recommended the introduction of compulsory Continuing Legal Education (CLE) for lawyers to be eligible to practice in any court every year.
Funded by the ministry of laws to suggest ways to stop declining ethical standards and professionalism among defenders, the study suggested designing CLE where newly incorporated lawyers at the bar should obtain at least 16 CLE credits each year, comprising 15 hours of study in the classroom and training workshop in ethics and professionalism.
For lawyers with more than five years of practice, the minimum CLE suggested credit was 12 each year with an optional 50-hour self-study, which may include studies in subjective and procedural law, professional ethics and emerging areas of law.
“Continuing legal education guarantees that legal and judicial reforms contribute to changing the attitudes and behaviors of lawyers and citizens. For this reason, CLE should be an integral part of legal and judicial reform strategies that are anchored in the rule of law and reflect the social values of a country, the study said.
Associate professors Dipa Dube and Dube, who conducted the study with IIT researchers in 2017, observed that legal education strengthened professionalism, generated public confidence and facilitated consensus and momentum for new reforms.
The project studied internships in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada , Italy, Germany and France where CLE is mandatory for all lawyers, during the entire period of their practice at the bar. Advocates in these countries must perform the stipulated number of hours of CLE activities accredited by the appropriate authorities to be eligible to practice.
Although India has the second largest number of lawyers in the world, only after the US. UU., It is not necessary that they undergo additional training once they have registered at the bar. The number of lawyers in India was estimated at one million, and law schools produce another 80,000 each year, according to the study.
The study cited the example of Canada where lawyers must complete at least 12 hours of continuing professional development in eligible educational activities every year. No less than three of the 12 hours must be concentrated on topics related to ethics, professionalism and practice management.
The IIT study interviewed more than 800 defenders, academics and judges across the country and found that 93% of respondents were in favor of presenting CLE, as they felt it would bring ethics and professionalism. The majority of the respondents were lawyers practicing in higher courts and district courts. A small percentage included retired judges and teachers.
In all countries, the CLE requirement must be met until the age of 65 or until 40 years of practice is completed, the study said.