“Lawyers should ensure justice is accessible to all by reducing the cost of litigation, which is beyond the means of large sections of society. Unless everyone has access to justice, we cannot say all can seek justice for their grievances,” Patil said in her speech at the 19th annual convocation of the National Law School of India University here.
Admitting that disputes were inevitable but litigation was not, the president said as dispute resolution could be done in many ways, lawyers could suggest simplified options to their clients so that justice was neither denied nor delayed.
“As lawyers, you should be engaged in securing justice for your clients or as judges, in finding justice for litigants to make your lives meaningful for others,” Patil said and quoted 16th US president (1861-65) Abraham Lincoln, who said: “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbours to compromise whenever you can. As peacemaker, a lawyer has a great opportunity of being a good man”.
Noting that globalisation had thrown up many challenges and issues were getting more complex, Patil said legal education must equip law professionals to meet the challenges and dimensions of functioning in a globally integrated world.
“Expertise in international law and knowledge about legal systems in other countries is still lacking in our country. Law courses must take international and comparative law perspectives in the syllabi, along with understanding of domestic law,” she asserted.
Recalling her years at the government law college in Mumbai in the sixties, Patil told the graduating students that though much had changed in the past five decades, principles and values of the legal profession remained the same, like the North Star in the sky, which was at the same spot year after year.
“As a lawyer you will be expected to obtain favourable verdicts in cases you represent. It is not money, fame or having high profile clients that make a good lawyer. They (clients) come to you with hope and belief that you shall give them honest advice. As honesty and integrity are valued most, a true lawyer should uphold truth and justice,” she said.
Those who choose to become judicial officers should be upright individuals, beyond the scope of any external influence. As members of the judiciary, they should uphold the highest standards of ethics.
“Your true worth will be to be objective about issues on which justice is sought, like the symbol of justice – blindfolded with the scale of law balanced,” the president said.
The president said legal systems had to cope with the impact of the 21st century in diverse fields such as information technology, biotechnology, medicine and intellectual property.
“Though some principles in life remain unchanged, other realities such as technology and its application change with the passage of time. As lawyers you must be able to cope with change in technology and its application to your profession,” she reiterated.
Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj, university chancellor and Supreme Court judge Justice Altamas Kabir and a host of dignitaries and officials were present at the hour-long convocation held in the grand banquet hall of the imposing Vidhana Soudha, the state secretariat in the city centre.