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Examining interest / Issue 48

Legally India newsletter
Legally India newsletter
Indian legal education finds itself at a pivotal time, with repercussions beyond just the student community. Yesterday, a number of NUJS Kolkata final year students led by professor Shamnad Basheer petitioned the Bar Council of India (BCI) to postpone the new bar exam until 2011, instead of holding it in August as originally envisaged.

Today, in a surprise U-turn, the BCI has agreed to push back the exam to December 2010.

An eminently sensible move planning an exam across India for more than 60,000 law students is not a cakewalk.

But question marks remain. Will the BCI organise the exam entirely by itself or seek outside help in the mammoth task? And with thousands of (almost) fully-trained lawyers affected and probably keen to try out their legal skills, there are bound to be legal challenges and disputes.

Finally, training contracts at UK firms could be in doubt. Some international firms have told students to defer by six months until trainees-to-be have passed the bar exam and are admitted to practice in India.

There is also another possible angle in all this: once India has its bar exam, satisfying 'reciprocity' of practice under the Advocates Act could be possible for the first time (e.g.: "You can practice here if you pass our exam.")

Could this open the door slightly for liberalisation discussions to restart? And if the BCI does not intend this - in line with all current public indications - why else the big rush?

Unperturbed, finalists in Indian law schools have continued racking up job offers: almost 100 per cent of students in the recruitment cells at NLIU Bhopal and Nalsar Hyderabad procured jobs. Law firms, unsurprisingly soaked up the majority of students while in-house corporate departments too have started seriously bulking up with junior talent.

Proving value will become harder and harder for Indian law firms as legal departments grow.

Citi India is leading the way, having appointed a new head of legal from GE Capital and a former Clifford Chancer to manage the legal team in its global markets division.

It is an arms race firms are ready for: media focussed outfit Naik Naik & Co has hired senior Wadia Ghandy partner Ashok Paranjpe as a name partner, moving towards fuller service.

Meanwhile, Khaitan clan firm Khaitan Jayakar Sud and Vohra (KSJV) has opened a Pune office and made up two new partners.

A good week for court reform also as the Supreme Court finally cleared the way for a National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to be created. If implemented by the Government, this would mean that all disputes under the Indian Companies Act would get dealt with by the tribunal, further freeing up the courts.

This week's legal opinion argues that LPOs remain safe, despite the recent writ petition activity against them and foreign law firms.

Finally, for some light reading from the end of the universe, an NLU Delhi student's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy homage has won the NUJS fiction writing competition. And the best news: it includes lawyers!

Deals this week, included Vedanta, Bollywood and $2bn fundraisings for Tata Steel.

Blogs this week:
LegalPoet has been on an excellent roll this week rediscovering his poetic roots in: 1. The true trials and tribulations of Mohan the intern. Or is it Rohan? 2. A poignant farewell to 5th years, boyfriends, girlfriends and mooters, and 3. CVs, cover letters, rejections and careers counsel in 14 utopian stanzas.

Legaldrift wrote two heavy-hitting and very important articles this week that deserve a lot of attention: 1. She investigates a PIL in the plight of widows in holy cities and how piety can result in prostitution and trafficking, and 2. An examination into male rape, laying bare the myths, facts and legal insight.

Also this week, John2010 gives careers advice on how to break into the bench, Legalpanand writes up contract law in Hindi, and Vikramaditya argues for a caste-based census.

Forum discussion of the week:
Aspiring lawyers throughout the country sat the CLAT last Sunday. Compared to last year, it was apparently very easy. Here are some reactions and sleepless nights.

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