Testing time for new lawyers

EXAM TIME

Testing time for new lawyers

The first All India Bar Examination will be held on December 5, 2010. The exam will be conducted in nine languages at notified examination centres across India. As a first, this exam is intended to test an advocate's ability to practice the profession of law in the country. This will assess capabilities at a basic level and the intent is to set a minimum standard for admission to law practice and to assess the knowledge of potential advocates.

This exam is compulsory for all law students graduating from the academic year 2009-2010 onwards. If a student has passed law prior to 2009-10 but has not practiced, then he is exempt from this examination. Also, all new students can take this exam only after enrolling as advocates under Section 24 of the Advocates Act, 1961.

All students will have to submit suitable proof of such enrolment along with the application form itself. Eligible advocates need to pay Rs 1,300 as fees and this amount includes all preparatory materials like model question papers and examination guides as well. This exam will be conducted twice every year in April and November from 2011 and the Bar Council of India will notify dates for these examinations.

Says advocate C V Kumar, “The general opinion is that the standards are falling and a degree of proficiency is expected from new law professionals. A committee was appointed to look at this and improve the quality of advocates. Most law colleges earlier offered only part-time courses which are now made full-time. Earlier, it was 3 years after degree, but now it is 5 years after PUC, so the idea is that lawyers must be assessed on their readiness to practice.”

Methodology

The All India Bar Examination will have 100 multiple choice questions across various subjects from the syllabi prescribed by the Bar Council of India for the three-year and five-year LLB programmes at law schools in India. These subjects are divided into two categories, one that is foundational in nature and the second comprises the rest of the subjects. The paper will comprise seven questions from each ‘Category I’ subject. The paper will also have 23 ques-tions from ‘Category II’ subjects as a whole. These twenty-three questions will include questions from at least five Category II subjects.
The 3 hours 30 minu-tes exam emphasises on assess-ing an advocate’s understan-ding of an area of law, rather than on the ability to memorise large texts from different areas of law. This exam will be an ‘open-book’ format and advocates can bring in any books or study aids and preparatory materials. How-ever, laptops, mobile phones and pagers are not allowed.

The result will simply state whether an advocate has qualified for practice or not and no marks, ranks or percentage points will be given out. A Certificate of Practice will be issued by the Bar Council of India, under the signature of the chairman within 30 days of the date of declaration of results to all advocates who success-fully pass the exam.

“The idea is to provide far more exposure to legal profess-ionals. Earlier on there was a system of new law students working as interns, which was later made voluntary. The learning from this has shown us that this was not necessarily yielding best results as students did not learn the nuances of practice.

“The objective behind conducting this examination is to imbibe more practical knowledge and prepare them to become full-time practitioners. It is still an experiment as we cannot assess its efficacy at the moment but the objective is very noble,” says Pavan Duggal, an advocate with the Supreme Court and a cyber law expert. So, here is wishing for better quality lawyers!

For details, write to bar-exam@barcouncilofindia.org

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