Barrister and Senior Advocate in Comparative Perspective​s

Himanshu Sorout
Centre for Post Graduate Legal Studies, Jindal Global Law School, Jindal Global University, India.

Volume III, Issue V, 2020

This paper traces the development of the legal profession in British India and since the departure of the British to analyze comparatively, the post of Barrister or as it was known in India the Advocate, and the Senior advocate in the contemporary Quasi-Federal Democratic Republic of India. The Barrister had entered India as an aristocratic lawyer with imperial patronage. However, the paper argues that the Senior Advocate is, in fact, despite the long-standing protestations of contemporary Indian Vakils, the echo or retention of the erstwhile post of the Barrister. Particularly the position as obtained in the last days of the empire after the reforms of the late 19th century, wherefrom the English Barrister had materially converged with the native Vakil as an officer of the Court but specialized in pleading. Whereas for most of the early 19th century the Vakil had been a junior practitioner of law in the lower courts, by the end of the era he had transmogrified into a more fully-fledged lawyer led by eminent Indian vakils elevated to the post of Advocate (Barrister). The Barrister at once in danger of merging and disappearing altogether with the unified single practitioner under the newly emerging all India bar instead reappears as the Senior Advocate along with the Advocate as a junior practitioner and the Advocate on record as a specialist in acting, much like the erstwhile solicitor, as was considered beneficent to the Indian legal profession by the 14th Law Commission.

Keywords:  Barrister, Solicitor, Advocate, Senior Advocate, Advocates Act, 1961