Whenever I hear about the regulatory easing of the legal industry in the US, UK, Canada, or Australia, I have mixed emotions.
As a global citizen, I feel great about the reforms.
Each reform feels like a software update for the legal industry.
We seem to be reducing its monopolized nature, and making space for innovation — by reducing the ‘punishment’ on innovation.
The discourse about updating justice is genuine, and inclusive. Stakeholders from all corners of the industry: inventors, entrepreneurs, designers, public law professionals, private practitioners, regulators, governments are participating to update their regional and national legal sectors to make them current and relevant to the times we are living in.
We are empathizing with the very people who ultimately need justice. The people for whom law and justice exist.
As an Indian citizen, though, I feel… concerned.
Unlike the ABA (for example), we don’t have any Body or Council in India that is truly invested in improving the professional and business competence of our lawyers.
There is no single leader of our legal profession that TRULY voices and reflects the ground reality.
The laws that regulate our legal profession continue to remain so eerily vague, that lawyers have no choice but to feel like they are walking on eggshells.
“Does putting my picture on this handout count as a violation?”
“Can I monetize my side-hustle?”
“Can we do [ABC] on our website?”
“Does [XYZ] count as solicitation?”
“Can I do this?” “Can I do that?”
“I don’t want to lose my license. I rather not”.
We don’t have the culture of looking out for public justice at large. Our citizens don’t have even basic frameworks or systems to be able to self-represent themselves, no matter how intellectually capable they are.
Our entrepreneurs are in a constant state of anxiety. Because we have a culture of takedowns. When startups try to innovate in this ungodly mess of a justice crisis we are in, instead of being grateful to them, helping them with our expertise, we file public interest litigation and criminal complaints against them.
Our Chief Justices weep – in public – about the paralyzed state of our judiciary.
Our lawyers work as Uber drivers and paid interns.
And now, our Bar Council is passing resolutions/amendments that essentially ban criticism on the institution(s). Couched in vague language that can cover just about anything you can say if you had the ba**s to question their conduct.
(I am acutely aware of what is going on on the legal front with respect to this resolution, including the recent developments. That is NOT the point of this post).
The point is merely this: we cannot unlock innovation if our environment sets us up to fail. If it punishes us for taking risks.
Entrepreneurship is a friend. It solves society’s most crooked problems. The legal industry’s mess will also be solved by entrepreneurs. But if our industry remains this rigid, opaque, and protectionist, our kids will walk into the same mess we have grown up seeing from three generations.
Innovation doesn’t just rain down from the skies.
It doesn’t “just happen”.
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