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Bar exam done deal from September claim BCI, Moily; Finalists on tenterhooks

Law-Minister-Veerappa-Moily_thumb
Law-Minister-Veerappa-Moily_thumb
The Bar Council of India (BCI) and law ministry have now decided to forge ahead with a bar exam for all 2010 graduates and anyone applying with the BCI to practice as a lawyer.

Indian daily the Hindustan Times reported yesterday law minister Veerappa Moily and recently elected BCI chairman and solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam had agreed about introducing the test.

"The Supreme Court had last year suggested there should be an entry-level bar exam, and the BCI will seriously implement it. It will apply to law graduates passing out from this year and those who passed the LLB earlier but had not applied for licences till now," Subramaniam said.

There are more than a million lawyers in India "and we need to raise the standard of the profession", he said, according to the Hindustan Times.

Subramaniam has long been an advocate of a bar exam for all Indian lawyers.

Moily (pictured) was reported as saying: "The BCI has informed the law ministry of its decision to make it mandatory for law graduates to pass an entry-level exam to be eligible for a lawyer's licence. We welcome it."

Details of precisely how the bar exam would be implemented logistically by September of this year or whether plans had already been made could not be confirmed at time of going to press.

An open letter to Subramaniam posted as a blog entry on Legally India yesterday (2 May) by an anonymous "Collective of Final Year Law Students" welcomed the exam although it expressed concern that job offers of final year law students could be jeopardised by the timing of the exam.

"We hope that the macro concerns of implementing this policy will not cause you to overlook the micro concerns of final year law students, who are now anxious about their future," read the blog entry.

The statements were made during last weekend's (1 and 2 May) National Consultation for the Second Generation of Reforms in Legal Education held in Delhi.

Next to Moily and Subramaniam, the Saturday morning's programme included speeches by India's prime minister Manmohan Singh, Moily's adviser TK Vishwanathan, outgoing BCI chairman SNP Sinha, India's attorney general Goolam Vahanvati and outgoing Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan.

At the event Moily also presented his second vision statement for legal education reform.

"An efficient justice system plays a vital role in our economic development – reducing pendencies alone can add about 2% to our GDP – and it is our legal education system that will provide the manpower to fuel this required efficiency," read the vision statement.

As first reported by Legally India on 21 April, Moily also proposed the introduction of super-specialised transactional, litigation and public law LLBs, as well as continuing legal education and shortening of LLM programmes to one year.

Moily also outlined in his vision statement that he wants to "establish four national level institutions at the regional level as Centres of Excellence focussed on research and upgradation of faculty skills - these may be called Institutes of Advanced Legal Studies & Research".

Furthermore, he proposed:

  • "a National Law University established in every state as a school of excellence",
  • "each of the 913 existing law schools to be evaluated by an empowered committee and classified as per standards and needs for the purpose of upgrading such colleges and creating and providing opportunities to the students",
  • a "PPP model for law schools with specialised focus to be encouraged",
  • "autonomous colleges that will meet demanding accreditation standards to be encouraged", and
  • "continuing learning centres to be established in collaboration with the Bar Council’s Directorate of Legal Education".
“The BCI has informed the law ministry of its decision to make it mandatory for law graduates to pass an entry-level exam to be eligible for a lawyer’s licence. We welcome it,” law minister M. Veerappa Moily said on Saturday.

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