New Delhi: The Supreme Court has asked the Bar Council of India to expand the scope of online legal advertising by allowing lawyers to disclose details of their experience and areas of specialization, in addition to the list of basic information currently permitted.
The council is the regulatory body that prescribes standards in professional conduct for Indian lawyers and legal educators.
Larger play: Employees at Karanjawala and Co., a law firm in New Delhi. The apex court has asked the council to let lawyers also give details of experience and specialization in their online ads
The suggestion came from a bench headed by justice B.N. Agarwal when a resolution passed by the council in March, which amended its rule 36 that prohibited all forms of advertising by lawyers, was placed before the court on Monday.
The court took up the resolution for its formal consideration while hearing a petition that was filed in 2000 by advocate V.B. Joshi opposing rule 36.
The March resolution, validating an amendment to the rule, said it “will not stand in the way of advocates furnishing website information” subject to the information provided online being limited to the lawyer’s name, address, telephone number, email, details of his enrolment to the state bar council, relevant bar association, professional and academic qualifications, and areas of practice.
While approving the form prescribed in the resolution, the bench asked the council to let lawyers also disseminate details of their experience and specialization as it would be “misleading” for a client to know about a lawyer’s areas of practice without details of his experience and areas of specialization.
Senor counsel M.N. Krishnamani appearing for the council agreed to consider the suggestion of the court.
Lalit Bhasin, appearing for president of the Society of Indian Law Firms, or SILF, an association of India’s top firms, told the court that “the resolution be extended to advertising in brochures and online legal directories”. SILF had approached the court last year to be made a party to Joshi’s petition.
Bhasin and additional solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam, who appeared on behalf of the government, were asked by the court to communicate their suggestions directly to the council by next hearing.
“We are happy that everyone is applying themselves to this issue,” remarked justice Agarwal.
The case was adjourned by the court without providing any specific date for next hearing.