The Alumni Association of Campus Law Centre, Delhi organized a "Virtual Panel Discussion on Coping with Covid-19: Navigating the Challenges to the Legal Profession" on Sunday, 19th April 2020.
The panel included eminent judges, senior advocates, corporate lawyers, academicians and NGO personnel. The discussion addressed questions, primarily of final year law students and young advocates, pertaining to current and forthcoming challenges in the legal profession. The discussion was moderated by Prof. Dr. Usha Tandon, Secretary, Campus Law Centre Alumni Association ("CLCAA"), and Mr. Siddharth Marwah, Treasurer, CLCAA.
Speaking from the perspective of the Bench, Justice Gita Mittal, Chief Justice, J&K High Court and Chairperson, CLCAA, encouraged students to utilize this period to acquire more knowledge and be optimistic about the future. She stated that post-Covid, the nature of work in the legal profession may change, but not the quantum of work. She also emphasised on the importance of access to technology. Justice A.K. Sikri, Former Supreme Court Judge and Patron, CLCAA, said that whenever there is any calamity, there is rise in litigation and it also brings in new kinds of cases. This period should be utilized to bring in more judicial reforms to use technology to smoothen the process of justice administration and to make justice more accessible.
Justice Madan Lokur, Former Supreme Court Judge and Honorary Member, CLCAA, advised young lawyers to focus more on the High Courts and the District Courts practice as that is where the changes are most required.
Senior Advocate Mr. Mohan Parasaran, President, CLCAA, focused on how technology can be used in justice delivery even in the post-lockdown period. He explained how cases can be classified into that category which can be decided through videoconferencing and cases requiring policy matter etc., that have to be taken up in the physical courts.
Additional Solicitor General Ms. Pinky Anand, Vice Chairperson, CLCAA, expressed difficulties regarding evidence and the principle of open courts in the context of virtual courts. She stated young graduates must understand and make new building blocks of lawyering in the post-Covid period.
Senior Advocate Mr. Sidharth Luthra, Vice President, CLCAA, stated while the criminal work might reduce considering the decrease in the crime during the period of lockdown, litigation in other fields will increase. He advised young students to be prepared and quickly adapt to the changing times which hopefully would be more blissful for everyone.
Putting forth the view of corporate advocates, Mr. Ajay Bhargava, Partner, Khaitan & Co., stated that law firms had already been using technology in their offices and it has only increased during the period of lockdown and so it has been easy in terms of adaptability for the corporate sector which has also in a way increased the efficiency.
Mr. Hardeep Sachdeva, Senior Partner, AZB, opined that restructuring, insolvency, distress deals will only increase and there shouldn't be any adverse impact for the corporate litigation. He further advised the students to relax as the world cannot survive without a lawyer and the need for a corporate lawyer has only increased as can be seen from past experience.
Mr. Joginder Yadav, General Counsel, Cisco India & SAARC stated that it is important for corporate lawyers to know the business of the client. For a while drafting or research can be outsourced, however, it is fundamentally important to know the business of the client.
Ms. Anu Monga, Partner, IndusLaw and Member, GB, CLCAA, urged the students to focus on their final semesters and ace them and by that time there will be a better picture of the future. Expounding statistical data, she stated that the legal industry is always at '3 X' (three times) of the economy.
Speaking through the lens of academia, Prof. (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar, Vice-Chancellor, JGU, emphasized on "Stay in India and Study in India" that students should defer pursuing Masters from abroad, in case they were planning to do so. Prof. (Dr.) Usha Tandon, Professor, CLC, University of Delhi and Secretary, CLCAA, stated the need for encouraging the students to carry out more research and providing them a suitable environment for research.
Mr. Ravi Kant, President, Shakti Vahini, motivated the students to do more social work and join NGOs considering the rising need for legal aid during the period of lockdown, especially with rise in cases of domestic violence and child abuse.
The YouTube Link for the panel discussion can be accessed here