An Advocate is a professional in the field of law who uses the knowledge of law and is entitled to practice in the court of law. An Advocate is regarded as an officer of law but at the same time he has duties towards his clients, opponents, colleagues, society etc. The profession of law is considered as the most noble and prestigious profession. So, it is expected from an advocate to show highest standard of honor and should reflect their privileged position in the society. Usually and advocate is confused with the lawyer. People think that they both are the same thing but in reality, it’s not.
A lawyer is simply a person who has attended a law school and has obtained a LLB degree whereas an advocate is a specialist in law whose name is enrolled in the advocates roll and has the right to practice in court of law and can represents clients. When an advocate who is entitled to practice in the Hon’ble Supreme Court then he is called as an Advocate on Record (AOR). To become an AOR, an advocate should have 4 years of service, he must work under an AOR for 1 year who has more than 10 years of service and he must pass the AOR exam conducted by the Supreme Court.
Qualifications of an advocate
The first and foremost step to be enrolled as an advocate is to register himself under the State Bar Council under the provisions of the Advocates Act, 1961. The Bar Council of India conducts an examination called All India Bar Examination (AIBE) for the selection procedure of an advocate by examining their knowledge in substantial and procedural law areas which is decided by the BCI. Section 24 of the Advocates Act, 1961 states the criteria to be enrolled as an advocate which are as follows;
- Must be a citizen of India, provided that he should be treated equally even if he practices law outside India
- Must have completed the age of 21 years
- Obtained a degree in law after completion of 12th undergoing a 3/5-year course in law from any university recognized by the Bar Council of India, provided that even if a person has obtained a degree of law from outside India and is recognized under the Bar Council of India then he/she must be admitted as an advocate in India
- Payment of enrollment fees i.e., Rs. 600 to the State Bar Council and Rs. 150 to the Bar Council of India. If the person belongs to SC or ST then he must pay Rs. 100 to the State Bar Council and Rs. 25 to the Bar Council of India
- Fulfillment of any other conditions stated by the State Bar Council.
The Advocates Act, 1961 also lays down some conditions for disqualification of enrollment which are mentioned under section 24A of the Advocates Act, 1961. Following are the conditions for disqualification of enrollment;
- Convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude
- Convicted of an offence under the provisions of Untouchability (Offence) Act, 1955
- Dismissed or removed from employment or office under state for any charge involving moral turpitude
Although this disqualification is not permanent, it is valid only for 2 years. A person can again apply for an advocate after 2 years.
Skills an advocate should possess
The profession of law requires certain skills that must be possessed by an advocate. Some of the skills are mentioned below;
- Good communication skills – An advocate must possess good communication skills whether its oral or written. He must speak in a fluent, efficient and effective manner and must argue with persuasiveness before the court of law.
- Research skills – another important skill an advocate should have is the ability to research fast and in an efficient manner. The research method adopted by him must satisfy and safeguard the interests of his clients.
- Logical thinking ability – must be logical enough to come to a conclusion by means of justification and reasonableness. An advocate should not consider his opponent as an enemy and run the case out of vengeance. There should be good relation with the opposite counsel but it should not hamper the interest of the client.
- Listening skills – to become a good advocate one should have the quality of listening to others carefully and not interrupting them in between. In practical sense this skills helps the advocates in cross examining the witness.
- Organized – the character of an advocate can be determined by the way he keeps his desk and organized. He should be well versed with the cases he is handling and must keep a regular check over his belongings.
- Confident – confidence needs time to be built. A client puts his confidence on the advocate to handle his case in an efficient manner and provide him justice. It is the duty of the advocate to keep up with the confidence his client has put in him and should also maintain the dignity, integrity and honor of the profession.
Duties of an advocate
An advocate has a dual responsibility i.e., to uphold the interests of his clients and at the same time act as officer of court. It is the code of conduct that an advocate must not forget and should perform well within his authority and in compliance with the laws and regulations of the Bar. Some of the duties of an advocate are mentioned below;
- Duty towards Court
- The most important duty of an advocate towards the court is to pay respect to the court and judges of the court.
- Must have a sense of honor and pleasing manners while arguing in the court.
- Should not mislead the court and should not influence the decision of court by any illegal means.
- Should appear before the curt in the prescribed dress and shall not wear the band and gown in public places.
- Duty towards the client
- Shall uphold the interests of his clients fearlessly by all fair and honorable means.
- Shall not disclose the information relating to a client’s case to any other person.
- Shall act only on the instructions of his client or any authorized agent.
- Shall not withdraw from the case without any sufficient cause and reasonable notice given to the client.
- Duty towards opponent
- Shall not communicate directly with the opponent party in the absence of their advocate.
- Shall not mislead the opponent regarding the case at any point.
- Should uphold all the legitimate promises made whether in writing or not.
- Duty towards colleagues
- Should not solicit or advertise his work either directly or indirectly by way of pamphlets, personal communication, broadcasting etc.
- Younger advocates should pay respect to the senior advocates.
- should not get envious of the other advocates who are earning well and have higher position.
- Should guide and help the younger and new advocates regarding the proceedings or a case.
Since an advocate has dual responsibility, he needs to maintain a balance between them. Being an officer of court, the above-mentioned duties are also essential for an advocate. They must follow all the code of conduct and professional ethics while practicing law. In case if an advocate is found guilty of professional misconduct, then he can be punished by the court and may remove his name from the advocate’s roll. Such advocates shall not be allowed to practice in any court of law.
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