Resisting the winds of change


Murali Neelakantan argues that India’s legal profession is insecure, has lost its commitment to public service and is failing to move with the times

While national legal systems seem very different from each other, there seems to be a set of common principles that regulate the legal profession across continents – integrity, independence and public service. One explanation for why we see them as so very different is the social milieu, cultural uniqueness and the values that we promote as a society.

Murali_Neelakantan_-_Cipla_-_full_length_4The legal profession has evolved globally to nurture the growth of specialization. Yet, we in India continue to resist the winds of change. While there is a high level of specialization at the tribunals and subordinate judiciary, lawyers as they get more experienced seems to want to turn into generalists. A number of specialist lawyers who were well regarded seem to actively seek out a wider variety of matters once they are designated as senior advocates. Similarly, once appointed as judges, they are expected to become experts in every aspect of law.

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MURALI NEELAKANTAN is a former global general counsel of Cipla. He was previously a senior partner at Khaitan & Co, and before that an equity partner at Ashurst. He is a dual-qualified (Indian and English law) lawyer.