Currently, there are two approved courses in India, through which a person can join the Legal Profession, one is LL.B (Three Years) and LL.B (Hons.) (Five Year Course).
After passing any of the above two degrees from an institution recognized by Bar Council of India, and subject to other conditions of Advocates Act 1961, one can enrol himself/herself as an Advocate.
However, it has often been seen that after completing the graduation course in Law, many people want to take post graduate degree of Master of Laws (LL.M) also, while continuing in practice.
The situation before 2009 was not clear, that as to whether it is permissible to do LL.M while practising as Lawyer, however the Bar Council of India in its meeting held on 18 & 20 December 2009, resolved as follows:
“RESOLVED that the Practising Advocates can join in LL.M Course as Regular Student without Suspending the practise.”
As such YES, Lawyers/Advocates can do LL.M. without suspending their practice.
Issue Came up Before the Delhi High Court
Law graduates who wanted to pursue LLM at Delhi University were asked to quit their jobs or stop practising as Lawyer. This was challenged before the Delhi High Court.
A bench led by Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said:
“The Bar Council of India, which supervises the legal profession, enables advocates to enter LLM as ordinary students while carrying on their profession, therefore how can DU place limits on carrying on of the practice of law?”
Rahul Dutta and Padma Landol, two law graduates who qualified for admission to the LLM program this year, petitioned the court.
For admission to the two-year LLM course, DU requires 50% in the LLB degree course for general applicants and 45% for SC/ST candidates, as well as merit in the entrance exam.
When the petitioners went to the Faculty of Law to inquire about the documents they needed to bring to counselling on Thursday, they were told that, in addition to other documents, they needed to provide an affidavit saying that they will neither practice law or take up work while studying.
Their counsel, S. N. Singh, told the court that this restriction amounted to preventing petitioners from practicing in courts, which is essential for their careers. He said that the Bar Council allows working lawyers to pursue LLM full-time courses without having their license suspended.
Rajat Rajan Singh
Editor-in- Chief at Law Trend
& Advocate at Allahabad High Court Lucknow