Ever since India Inc developed the need has always been there to have a voice for General Counsels in India, so the idea of General Counsels’ Association of India (GCAI) was mooted a few years ago as a need was felt to institutionalise the General Counsel’s profession by way of statutory recognition. The key objective is to create a distinct professional identity for General Counsels and recognise their experience and expertise as a separate, specialised stream of legal practice.
To have your services as a General Counsel recognised, which will be subject to regulation, at par with lawyers and other professionals on the practice side. To enhance your professional capabilities, networking and employment opportunities. To contribute to thought leadership in the field to promote public service, diversity and ethical standards.
GCAI has been formed with clear aims and objectives. It is being managed and led by General Counsels within the community unlike most other organisations which have come up in the past. GCAI is the only organisation which has been constituted with a focus to seek recognition for the in-house practice, engage in professional development of in-house counsels and provide industry relevant internships, mentoring and training opportunities to law students. It also seeks to advance diversity and ethical practices in the profession. It looks to leverage the combined power of General Counsels pan India to achieve the objectives for which it has been constituted.
A General Counsel for many years has been a legal advisor to the organisation he/she works for and provides legal services, which are for all facets of legal work and of a very high quality.
However, under Rule 49 of the Bar Council of India rules, an Advocate shall not be a full-time employee of any person, government, firm, corporation or concern and on taking up such employment shall intimate such fact to the Bar Council concerned and shall cease to practise as long as she/ he is in such employment. Therefore, General Counsels are not permitted to practise law, which GCAI seeks to amend.
Several other legislations do not recognise in-house counsel as full-fledged members of the legal profession. It is imperative that due credit be given to these professionals and their years of practice of law and that they be recognised for the seniority that comes with it.
GCAI has received very positive feedback from government, judicial platforms, law firms and their associations, fellow General Counsels, for the need to have an association to create public opinion for ensuring statutory recognition of in-house counsel as members of the legal profession. GCAI will work with various stakeholders and seek their assistance for feedback to secure recognition for General Counsels under various Indian laws.
In the modern world, large corporations are driving economies for which professional legal support is a must. Rather than being only a legal advisor, the expectations from a General Counsel today are to be a member of the Board of Directors, effectively manage the risk and compliance function, support the advocacy and regulatory requirements of a company with external stakeholders. To enable a GC to step up to these new responsibilities, a paradigm shift on the quality and accountability of services is essential for which regulation is a must. GCAI strives to seek recognition for the In-house Counsel services to ensure excellence and meet aspirations of the Indian corporate sector.
GCAI is committed to enhance professional excellence of in-house counsel and law students. GCAI will provide opportunities for up skilling, mentoring and networking to in-house counsel and law students. To make that happen, GCAI is collaborating with institutions, academia, industry, law firms and the judiciary to develop various specialised practice areas. GCAI will also create opportunities for students and aspiring legal professionals in the form of training, mentoring programmes and internships.