The lockdown imposed to prevent the novel coronavirus pandemic in India has forced its citizens to bring a change in their usual way of life. Such changes proved to be difficult for majority of the lawyers, who practice litigation , case hearings in courts , not used to the usage of technology and so on .
Perhaps the biggest change is no access to an office or the courtroom or clients. The system of legal services goes back to its beginnings. A client ,first approaches an advocate, who, then files the required papers as per the legal procedure , prepares and present the case. If required , argues the case before the Honourable Judge and the opposing advocate . It is also the responsibility of the advocate to update the client at all stages of the case and then, do the necessary to follow up when a verdict is reached and action is mandated.
How Has Lockdown Affected Lawyers?
In short, the work of a lawyer is highly personal as well as highly professional.With the lockdowns lasting over the past 3 months, the work is made difficult , if not impossible. Perhaps the easiest ,maybe, is not that easy for all ,is to adapt to work-at-home technology using apps like Zoom, WhatsApp video calling and other videoconferencing platforms. To do so , requires the proper and functional computers or laptops , good internet connection, printing access and hours of note-taking while on video call. Many lawyers may not be familiar with using of various video-conferencing platforms like Zoom which requires minimum technological knowledge and familiarity in the digital arena.
Their clients most likely, may not be used to the digital world or its usage which deters many from accessing different apps mainly , the video-conferencing apps .Business clients are familiar with, regarding e-mailing and digital scanning of documents and other materials. For personal matters, fluency in reading and drafting of e-mails along with attachments inclusive of documents and materials is necessary while for professional matters, there may be more standard forms. These still need to be printed out and signed, even if ,with a digital signature.
All of this increases the difficulties in the client-attorney relationships, proper representation of the client, submission of required documents and materials before the courts and case management. This is , if it is possible to move matters in the Court which can be difficult at present.
During the lockdown, the courts decided to hear only cases which required urgent hearings. Visitors were restricted from entering the Court premises while chambers of lawyers and the Bar Rooms were closed. To add up to the list of lawyers’ woes , client-attorney relationships, technological barriers and adequate consultation with the client is also affected .
Therefore, with the coronavirus lockdown, litigation lawyers are facing serious financial crunch in their profession as most advocates depend on the filing of new petitions and hearings for their continual income. As everyone is sitting at home due to lockdown , there are not many cases at all.
Family court is one of the best generator of income to lawyers but because of the lockdown, most family courts do not function too.
The mental well-being of lawyers, especially young ones, are in a critical situation. Most young lawyers only earn about Rs.2,000/- to Rs. 15,000/- a month. Without the family court income, they are finding it very difficult to meet their daily needs.
Some lawyers were stuck in the hostels, or room in a rented house, where they do not have enough money to pay the rent or even to have food. This stress leads them into depression.
Those lawyers fortunate enough to have basic needs met have been benefitted by the lockdown as the time to update themselves on latest laws and technologies. Some lawyers have done legal courses during this period. Some got into positive habits of reading and writing so as to prepare themselves once the lockdown is lifted.
But for many, the lockdown meant struggling with depression and meeting basic requirements. The lockdown has brought depression to lawyers due to the following reasons:
Majority of the lawyers have faced financial struggle during the imposed lockdown . Further legal information can be provided by Lawyers in India.
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