Legal Profession: Meaning & Development

Legal profession is one of the most prestigious and old occupations of almost every society. An advocate or a lawyer is a member of the legal profession, who represents aggrieved people’s concern. In other words, a lawyer or friend of the court, is a representative of justice. It goes without saying that the administration of justice is the primary duty of the legal profession. An advocate aids the parties in varieties of ways, including the drafting of legal documents such as wills, contracts, agreements, and other economic transactions. On humane grounds, an advocate ought to offer free legal assistance to the needy and underprivileged people.

What is the Meaning of Legal Profession?

The legal professional must apply a combination of formal legal knowledge and formal legal skills in a more creative way. The legal profession refers to the whole of occupational roles purposely oriented towards the administration and maintenance of the legal system, including judges, lawyers, counsellors, as well as experts in legal education and scholarship.

Development of the Legal Profession

As the legal profession grows, it can be understood in the following time frame −

I. Legal Profession During Ancient Period

In former times, people in India lived in close−knit communities. In front of everyone, the leader of these tribes or groups administered justice outside under the open sky. Back then, there was no such thing as a lawyer with a specialty. Justice was carried out by the king once he assumed the throne. The king's advisors provided advice. The Hindu religion and customs were the foundation of the legislation in those days.

II. Legal Profession During Medieval Period

The legal profession existed during the Islamic era, the king or his representative usually heard the cases and based on that gave his judgement. However, it was the time, when parties were given privilege to choose their representatives (usually legal professionals). This body rendered the decision and was compensated with a portion of the settlement. However, the legal profession was not properly defined and organized. Vakils worked as the principal's agent; they were not attorneys. In fact, they were the experienced people not qualified and trained, as there was no as such exclusive training center.

III. Legal Profession in British India

In India, the model legal system was created during the British era. However, in the beginning, the East India Company, not the British Crown, was the source of the courts' authority.

Authority Description
Charter of 1753 It was published in order to amend the 1726 charter. The legal profession was not established after this charter since it disregarded important measures for legal education and training pertaining to legal practitioners.
Charter of 1774 In 1774, the British crown issued a charter that founded the Supreme Court of Judicature in Calcutta. The state Supreme Court was given the authority to authorise and enrol attorneys and advocates under Clause 2 of the Charter. Any advocate or attorney could be fired for a good reason by the Supreme Court. Even the Charter of 1774 did not include language allowing Indian legal practitioners to stand before the Supreme Court and make arguments.
  • British and Irish barristers are referred to as "advocates."

  • The term "attorney" refers to a British solicitor or attorney.

Indian High Courts Act, 1861 This statute authorized the British Crown to create a High Court in each presidential town. Subsequently, provinces also formed their own civil courts.
Legal Practitioners Act, 1879 It was passed in order to modify and codify the law governing attorneys. It stipulated that an advocate or vakil listed on the roster of any high court may practice in all courts. The High Court was given the authority to create rules that were compliant with the statute regarding the suspension and dismissal of pleaders and mukhtars under this act. The Indian legal profession was represented by Pleaders and Mukhtars, but barristers were to be advocates.
Indian Bar Committee, 1923 It was established under Sir Edward Charminar’s leadership. The topic of the bar’s organization on an Indian basis was to be discussed. The All−India Bar Council wasn’t created with the committee’s support. A bar council should be established at each high court. A single grade of practitioners, to be known as Advocates, was proposed by the committee for all High Courts. It is further proposed that the High Court should be granted disciplinary power to punish the guilty and the bar committee should have the authority to investigate matters requiring disciplinary action against a lawyer.
Indian Bar Council Act, 1926 The Indian Bar Council Act was passed in 1926 to give effect to some of the suggestions made by the Indian Bar Committee in 1923. The act's primary goals included establishing and incorporating the Bar Council for certain courts, confirming their authority, and imposing obligations on them, as well as consolidating and amending the laws governing the legal professionals who practise in such courts. The statute created a provision for the creation of a Bar Council for each high court. Each Bar Council was required to have 15 members. The concerned High Court had to designate four of these members, and the Advocates of the High Court were to choose ten of them from among.

IV. Legal Profession After Independence

The legal professions after independence are −

  • All India Bar Committee, 1951 − Under the leadership of Justice S.R. Das, the All India Bar Committee was established. A state bar council and an All India Bar Council were suggested by the committee in its report. To the Bar Council, it suggested recommending the authority to enrol, suspend, or expel advocates. It was also advised against hiring any more mukhtars or pleaders who hadn't received their diplomas.

  • Advocates Act, 1961 − The Advocates Act was passed by the federal government in 1961. All of India has been subject to this law. It led to radical changes in India’s judicial system. It aims to uphold the dignity and usefulness of the legal profession throughout India. The legislation changes and consolidates the law dealing with legal practitioners, according to the act’s preamble.

    The Indian Bar Council Act, 1926, as well as all other related statutes, are repealed by the Advocates Act of 1961.

    According to the Advocates Act of 1961, each state is required to have an independent bar council, and there is also an All India Bar Council made up primarily of representatives from the state bar councils. According to the act, a state bar council is responsible for enrolling qualified individuals as attorneys and creating a list of attorneys who practice in the state. The bar council of India is then responsible for creating a list of attorneys who represent clients throughout all of India. The important provisions under the act are −

Provision Chapter Description
Section 1−Section 2 Chapter I Preliminary
Section 3−Section 15 Chapter II Bar Council
Section 16−Section 28 Chapter III Admission and enrolment of Advocate
Section 29−Section 34 Chapter IV Right to Practice
Section 35−Section 44 Chapter V Conduct of Advocate
Section 45−Section 52 Chapter VI Miscellaneous
Section 53−Section 60 Chapter VII Temporary and transitional provisions


A society's moral integrity serves to govern it, and this is why laws exist. Since lawyers uphold and defend the societies’ integrity and morality and strive to maintain the welfare the society, the legal profession is considered to have the most responsible role to play. Because of all these reasons, legal profession is considered to have one of the most noble professions. Its primary objective is to put the needs of society first.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are the duties of the legal professionals?

Prima facie, legal professionals protect and maintain the integrity of the Constitution, which is the basis or core of the law. They also aid in keeping the judiciary, executive, and legislative branches under check and help in resolving the dispute if any arises between two parties. Likewise, the legal professionals play a key role in how justice is administered in the nation.

Q. What sets the legal profession apart from others?

The legal field is an honourable one. It is not a company or a line of work rather it is an institution that fights for public cause and strives to maintain law and order in the society. As part of the professional ethics, a lawyer must conduct themselves honestly and not with the intention of causing trouble or making money.

Q. What are the legal profession's ethics?

Legal profession’s ethics' primary goals are to protect the honour and dignity of the legal profession, promote a climate of cordial communication, ensure that attorneys treat clients fairly, and safeguard their obligations to the public.

Q. What are the duties of an advocate?

It explains laws, judgments, and rules for natural and legal individuals. Assemble evidence and do legal research. Prior to document execution, confirm that all necessary approvals are in place. Legal guidance and an explanation of the law. And, argue the case inside the court on behalf his/her clients.