Supreme Court Judge Justice Hima Kohli on Saturday said the entry of first-generation lawyers from diverse backgrounds and the increased representation of women in the legal profession are steps towards inclusivity.
Justice Kohli was speaking at the Forbes India-Legal Power List 2022 finale to felicitate lawyers.
She said that the Indian legal profession no longer operates in silos but has witnessed remarkable changes in its demographic composition over the past few decades. It is a vibrant, ever evolving organism that grows richer with each new voice that joins the chorus, Justice Kohli said.
"The entry of first-generation lawyers from different backgrounds and the increased representation of women in the legal profession are steps towards inclusivity. They send a powerful message across the country that the tide has truly turned and status quo is passe," she added.
The Supreme Court judge said that the first-generation lawyers coming from diverse socio-economic backgrounds often enter the field with a sense of purpose and mission that transcends traditional boundaries.
"It is often said that when fresh winds blow, the air feels crisp and new. Unlike those who may have inherited a legal practice, these first-generation lawyers coming from diverse socio-economic backgrounds frequently bring with them an outsider's perspective that can challenge entrenched practices. This is critical for stimulating an ethical discourse within the legal community," she said.
First timers are more likely to question established paradigms, be it in the attorney-client relationship, billing practices or the just considerations of advising corporate clients when confronted with conflicting interests, Justice Kohli said.
"In their zeal to do so, they compel the entire profession to revisit and re-evaluate some of its most foundational principles. Their queries and challenges to status quo serve as a refreshing ethical audit of sorts, compelling the legal community to sit up, introspect, improvise and adapt," she added.
Regarding the growing presence of women in the legal profession, she said it was not merely a matter of statistical representation but it signifies a fundamental shift in the legal landscape.
"It marks a positive step forward, not just for gender diversity, but for the evolution of honest thinking in the practice of law. Women with their multitasking skills bring diverse experiences and perspectives to the workplace, often leading to a more nuanced understanding of moral considerations," Justice Kohli said.
She said that the inclusion of first-generation lawyers and the growing representation of women in the legal field has had a transformative impact on the very fabric of the profession.
"Their contributions are far from mere tokenism. They bring to the table a wealth of diverse perspectives that challenge established norms and infuse cliched discussions with fresh ideas rooted in social justice, fairness and equity," she added.
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