I read the opinion piece by Sourish Mohan Mitra (Am I an in-house non-practicing advocate?) in your October issue with interest. It brought to the forefront a long running burning issue in the in-house lawyer fraternity. It was always a huge concern but was never voiced openly.
Most lawyers who move in-house today are opting for a retainership model, leaving those who have spent more time as in-house counsel completely in the lurch. As Mitra points out in his article, under the rules of the Bar Council of India, in-house lawyers who are in full-time employment are required to voluntarily suspend practice “and perhaps be re-christened in-house non-practising advocates”.
The reality is that today’s business is heavily dependent on in-house lawyers since very few companies have the desire to battle it out in protracted legal proceedings. They would prefer to have an in-house legal team not only for day-to-day advice but also for steering the company through critical situations and prevention of any disputes. Being in a law firm, I have had the opportunity to interact with many in-house lawyers and I find their legal acumen and abilities at par or at times even better than the so called “practising” lawyers.
I appreciate the efforts of the author and India Business Law Journal in raising this critical concern and I am confident that in-house lawyers are now in a better position to come together to reach amicable solutions.
Shaurya M Tomar
Partner, Universal Legal