Critical Professional Ethics | Overview
- Professional Ethics of Advocacy
- Legal Ethics
- Principles of Advocacy
- The Seven Lamps of Advocacy
This article aims to examine some of the critical aspects of the professional ethics of advocates, with a special focus on the seven lamps of advocacy. The seven lamps of advocacy are the main factor in driving advocates’ professional ethics in a correct and right way. The author has examined what all factors comprise under lamps of advocacy then discussed each of the lamps in detail and their importance in shaping the professional ethics in advocates’ profession.
For the study purpose, the article is divided into three main sections; the first one is an introductory section which will deal with the basics of ethics. The second section provides a brief overview of professional ethics of advocacy, the legal ethics, and on the third section, it lists all the seven lamps of advocacy and discusses them in detail one by one. The author has provided a suitable conclusion in the end.
The word ethics is derived from the Greek word ‘ethos’ meaning ‘character’ and from the Latin word ‘mores’ meaning ‘customs’. Both the terms when gets combined provide a definition of how an individual chooses to interact with one another. Ethics in philosophy represents what is good for the person, for the society in general, and the established nature of duties people owe themselves and one another.
When talking about ethics in general, it encompasses many essential qualities to be said as ethical behaviour. One such quality is integrity in a person’s character throughout their life. A good integral behaviour suggests that an individual will exercise the ‘right’ option even if the wrong one seems more comforting and appealing. Honest officers possess that integrity and the related ethical behaviours which make them worth and qualitative than others.
Ethical values and legal principles are interconnected with each other, but an ethical obligation typically exceeds legal duties. This is true in some cases when the law mandates unethical conduct, especially when a law is unjust, but the law has decided the ethical duties to supersede over the legal obligations.
Professional Ethics of Advocacy
The Legal Profession is a noble profession, and its nobility continues to be maintained with the observance and adherence to a set of professional norms by those indulged in this profession. It is known as legal ethics. The Supreme Court of India’s observation on profession of advocacy is given as below:
“Advocacy is not a craft but a calling; a profession wherein devotion to duty constitutes the hallmark. Sincerity of performance and the earnestness of endeavour are the two wings that will bare aloft the advocate to the tower of success. Given these virtues, other qualifications will follow of their own account. This is the reason why the legal profession is regarded as a noble one.”
On the other hand, professional ethics is referred to the personal and corporate standards and norms that govern a person’s behaviour within the context of a particular profession. The main objective of the professional ethics of advocacy is to maintain the legal profession’s dignity, which can be achieved by inculcating ethical values in the profession. The idea of ethics entails several other morals and traits that one must possess in their professional life, that’s why termed as professional ethics.
Ethics play a significant role in the legal profession, as advocates are often looked up doubtfully by others. Their clients have major trust issues, which mostly leads to arising of conflicting problems. An advocate is accountable to his client and should be honest and loyal towards them.
Besides honesty, he should exercise his duty in the interest of his client, respect the court and seta of justice, respect the laws of the land, and adhere to the other professional rules and ethics. It is noteworthy that if an advocate breaches upon his professional duty, it is regarded as a ‘professional misconduct’ or can be filed for contempt of court.
The definition of legal ethics, as given by Chief Justice Marshal, is produced as under:
“The fundamental aim of legal ethics is to maintain the honour and dignity of law profession, to secure the sprite of friendly cooperation between bar and bench in the promotion of highest standards of justice, to establish honourable and fair dealing of the council with his client, opponent and witnesses, to establish a sprite of brotherhood in the bar itself and to secure lawyers discharge their responsibility to the community generally”.
The fundamental of the legal ethics may be defined as a written or unwritten code of conduct for regulating the behaviour of an advocate himself, his clients, and his adversary in law and towards the Hon’ble court. In India, the legal profession has a statutory code of practice in the form of Advocates Act and Bar Councils Act which regulate the behaviour and professional conduct of advocates.
The Bar Council of India, a statutory body created under the Advocates Act, 1961 regulates and represents the Indian Bar members, prescribes standards of professional etiquette, conduct, and exercise disciplinary jurisdiction.
Principles of Advocacy
Professional ethics are guided with six essential principles that are as listed below:
The seventh principle or say ‘lamp’ was added by Justice K. V. Krishnaswamy Aiyer in his book “Professional Conduct and Advocacy”, named as Tact.
Tact refers to a person’s ability to handle people and situations skillfully without causing any offence. In respect of advocates, they are required to be in a position to tackle the case cleverly and win it for the client in a smoother way without causing offence to the opposing party and the opponent advocate.
Many incapacitated people of unequal ability have failed for want of tact. An advocate should have to remain calm and not quarrel while presenting his/her arguments and especially not loose temper over trifle things either inside or outside of the court. As the Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla has aptly said:
“Men of unquestioned ability have suffered for quarrelling with the tribunal or for standing on their dignity over trifles, for getting their clients, or for losing their tempers; they are men of parts but without tact.”
The Seven Lamps of Advocacy
The seven lamps of Advocacy an admirable book written by Judge Abbot Parry refers to the essential qualities that must be possessed by an advocate for success in his legal profession and the bar.
To have a clear overview of what these lamps indicate and what is their importance and value, let’s discuss each of them one by one:
Honesty is the most crucial quality that an advocate must possess and it should be reflected in his thoughts, words, and deeds. An advocate should be dependable and reliable in a fiduciary capacity to all who seeks his services and advice. Honesty in the profession will increase both professional and personal reputation and respect in the society.
It is an advocate’s duty to work to uphold the interests of his/her clients by all fair means without fearing of unpleasant consequences to himself or any other person. Knowledge and skill increase the courage and confidence in an advocate to present its best foot forwards in a case that is in the client’s interest.
Industry indicates hard work which is absolutely necessary for an advocate. The legal knowledge of an advocate should be up to date and not ignorant of the current law in force and to gain the required knowledge, an advocate must do a systematic study to get acquainted with the latest law. If they ignore the right law in force, the law will also ignore them. That’s why it is said that “law is the jealous mistress” which require one to be updated with the changes and amendments.
The lamp of wit is necessary to lighten the darkness of advocacy. Wit means a clever and humorous expression of ideas; the liveliness of spirit. It flows from intelligence, understanding, and quickness of mind. Having a smart wit works in reducing the workload of an advocate and relaxes its mental strain. Often an advocates’ wit turns a Judge from an unwise course where judgment or rhetoric would certainly fail.
Eloquence is related to oratory art, which means fluent oral communication and skilful use of language with persuasion to appeal to others’ feelings. The eloquence quality plays a crucial role in the success of advocates in their profession as the fluent speaking tends to impress the bench and attracts observers’.
Judgment is an intellectual capacity, ‘the inspiration which enables a man to translate good sense into right action.’ An advocate must exhibit a wise judgment-making quality to estimate, consider, and form an opinion on the concerned issue with good sense and ability. Judgment here means the deep study of the case and makes an informed opinion about the same with the related consequences that could arise out of it. After estimating the issues of the clients, he should them inform them of the accurate legal position openly.
The lamp of fellowship means the membership in friendly association or companionship. It is pertinent to remember that although advocates are adversary parties before the bench, they are not enemies and their conflict should ends right after they come out of the court’s doorsteps. Advocates should keep burning the fellowship lamp and encourage each other in the legal field while unmistakably expressing individual thoughts and views.
Advocates have a professional duty and large responsibility towards society. They are expected to act with utmost honesty and sincerity and are under an obligation to uphold the rule of law and preserve the public justice system. In all professional conduct, an advocate should be diligent in his/her functions and conform to the prescribed law, rules, and etiquettes under Chapter II, Part VI of the Bar Council of India Rules.
Any violations of the professional ethics of advocacy are as unfortunate, as is unacceptable. Therefore, the aforementioned seven lamps of advocacy acts as a guiding principle for the all the lawyers, and those who are yet to be, to inculcate the sound principles and ethical values in their profession and enable the justice system to function full potential.
 J.S. Jadhav v. Mustafa Haji Mohamad Yusuf, AIR 1993 SC 1535.
 Hon’ble Mr. Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla, Legal Profession: Challenges and Prospects & The Art of Advocacy, last assessed 1st Feb 2021, at
 Section 49(1) (c), Advocates Act, 1961.
 Krishnaswami Aiyar, Professional Conduct and Advocacy, (2007).
 Supra at 2.
 Parry, Edward Abbott, Sir, 1863-1943.Seven lamps of advocacy. London, T.F. Unwin .
 Sandeep Bhalla, Professional Ethics in Legal Profession in India. N.p.: n.p., (n.d.).