On June 12th, 2010 about thirty Criminal Defence attorneys gathered in Coimbatore, India to learn about “The Role of Lawyers for Effective Justice.” The following day, the conference was held in Mahe, India where another thirty attorneys participated. These were the fourth and fifth events held by IBJ India after its First International Criminal Defence Training Program in New Delhi. Previously a panel discussion was also held in New Delhi in Sep 2009 and besides two training events held in Pondicherry and Kolkata last year. Continuing on a path to raise awareness and teach ways to improve the issues affecting lawyers in India, the Coimbatore and Mahe conferences were successful.
Participants at Coimbatore Conference
A diverse group of trainers came to speak to the participants on a variety of topics throughout the day. Sanjeewa Liyanage, International Bridges to Justice’s Program Director, flew in from Geneva, Switzerland and began the program with an introduction to IBJ, its purpose, goals, past events, and activities. In a post-training survey, participants said they found this helped them better understand the organization as a whole.
Sanjeewa Liyange, International Program Director IBJ, Geneva speaking at the Mahe Event
After a short tea break, speaker Dr. K. P. Kylasanath Pillai, a Senior Advocate from Supreme Court of India, a recognized face in Kerela amongst Legal Fraternity and Academia, spoke to participants about the importance of cross-examination and how to effectively cross-examine a witness. During this presentation, a training video from the IBJ Legal Training Resource Center was shown to the participating attorneys. Overall, participants thought this session was the most relevant and useful to their careers and rated it as the best of the sessions. They found Mr. Pillai to be a very motivational speaker.
Dr. K.P. Kylasnath Pillai, Senior Advocate Speaking at Mahe
Following this, Ajay Verma, Fellow IBJ, spoke on the client and lawyer relationship. In particular he gave a step-by-step instruction on how to conduct interviews and spoke on his personal experiences with clients. Participants felt the information, teaching methods, and materials for this session were very good and effective.
Ajay Verma, Advocate & an IBJ Fellow,spokeon the lawyer-client relationship
After lunch, the conference resumed with a session on defense strategies by Mr. Pillai, who spoke on the various ways to effectively defend your client against the prosecution in trial. Hon’ble Judge K. Uthirapathy, Member Secretary Union Territory of Pondicherry Legal Services Authority, also came to the conference as a Guest Speaker and followed Mr. Pillai with his talk on the “Role of Lawyers in Initiation of Criminal Cases” and ethics and professional responsibility of attorneys. One participant said, “Learning about the professional responsibility and ethics of an attorney is very important these days and I think IBJ did well by presenting this in this conference.” This keynote address by Hon’ble Judge K. Uthirapathy was also inspiring to us; it made us realize how lawyers can be a strong support to the Criminal Justice System. His enthusiasm and passion was reflected by his stories and poise.
Hon’ble Judge K. Uthirapathy speaks at Coimbatore Conference
The final session after another short tea break was a reflection on what was learned and developed during the day’s conference. This Visioning exercise? also focused on what the participants thought should be improved in the Indian justice system and what their future goals are. This encouraged and motivated participants to take what they learned during the training and utilize it effectively in their respective practices.
On the whole, participants left saying they would recommend the training to others because it was interesting and they themselves are very likely to attend another IBJ conference if given the opportunity to do so in the future. Participants came from all regions and age groups– some just started their practice and have only worked on one case, while others had seventeen to twenty years of experience. Most fascinatingly, the participants in Mahe, a small town where there is only one judge who handles all kinds of cases, were particularly unique and diverse, including the president of the Bar Association and paralegals. This inspired some interesting interaction because the Union Territory of Pondicherry Legal Services Authority (UTPLSA) is the only authority to have started the Paralegal System effectively in their area. The UTPLSA has trained the paralegals, mostly women, to help the fellow women in small matters, andit is said to be working effectively.
In all, the lawyers gathered not only to learn from the trainers, but also to share their own wisdom that they have acquired from a number of years of practice. Their individual input and feedback throughout the conferences added diversity and light to the events. Those less outspoken and more reserved even took initiative by the end of the day and actively participated. The success of such events is vital to the development and education of lawyers in India. With this positivity and drive, IBJ India is conducting our next event; a panel discussion on July 18th at Kotputli, Rajasthan
Group Pictures of Participants & Trainers at Coimbatore
Group Pictures of Participants & Trainers at Mahe, Union Territory of Puducherry, India
Blog by Anisha Singh, IBJ India Intern