Bar Exams, Reinventing the Wheel

While researching at the British Library this week, I stumbled across a Memorandum on the administration of justice in India by Sir Patrick Spens, Chief Justice of the Federal Court of India.

Spens noted,

I would now make some remarks in regard to the Bar. At every place that I visited, without exception there are far too many barristers and advocates for the work which is available. Everywhere there are literally hundreds with nothing to do except to sit in court and listen and no work to occupy them when they are not doing this. Some years so this failure to get work and young men becomes victims of disappointment, ill will and disaffection (perhaps a reference to the number of lawyers in the nationalist fray) . The fault, I think, is that it is far too easy to become an enrolled advocate at most of the High Courts. As a rule a course at the university with the degree of LL.B and a few months apprenticeship to a local advocate is all that is required for admission to the local Bar. It seems to me that the universities which depend largely upon the number of pupils who come to them are likely to be in favor of the continuation of a situation where the university degree carries such potential subsequent advantages. Moreover for the purpose of maintaining or increasing the supply of pupils there is temptation to a university to make it easier from time to time the conditions of the qualifying examination for law degree.

In the interests of the Bar itself, I believe, that it might well be desirable either that an agreement should be secured between the universities concerned for a more or less uniform and considerably stiffer examination at all universities for the degree of LL.B, if such degree is to remain the basis of admission as Advocates, or that , as on the original side of the High Court, a further and stiffer qualifying examination is required of a young man before he comes to a bar.

The Memorandum was given serious consideration by the Viceroy and forwarded to London. Comments were invited by colonial bureaucrats and judges, but this particular recommendation came to naught, with the comment.

It is doubtful whether a stiffening of the examinations will lead to any real improvement. There is , as matters now are, more capacity in this country for passing examinations than for practical work, and any raising of the standard of examination though it might have some small effect, could not be expected to achieve very much.

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Aditya Verma
Aditya Verma
11 years ago

Interesting excerpt! Was this before the Bar had control over legal education in India?

11 years ago

Just out of curiosity, would you know the dates of the original memorandum and the subsequent comments of the Viceroy and the others?