Bar Council of India will legalise websites of lawyers and law firms by passing a resolution to amend Rule 36 in Section IV of BCI rules in the second week of March, reports BarAndBench. Bar Council of India (BCI) chief Manan Kumar Mishra made the statement at a conference hosted by the American Bar Association.
In 2008 the Delhi bar council had allowed (pdf) law firms to set up websites within the existing restrictions on advertising, according to which, advocates lawyers must not advertise or solicit either directly or indirectly through the media. It allowed to furnish “website information as prescribed in the Schedule under intimation to and as approved by the Bar Council of India”. This allowed for little more than publishing of advocates’ contact details, qualifications and areas of specialisation. However, websites of several law firms currently also have testimonials and detailed biographies of lawyers, apart from other publicity material.
In 2010, bar council was planning to regulate these websites especially some of the foreign firms that set up base here, but that has not been been done yet.
Many lawyers feel that such websites can help promote new law firms that otherwise struggle to get clients unlike established law firms that people are aware of. It is also worth noting that big law firms have their own PR teams at times and some even sponsor events, which could be construed as advertising in a way. That being the case, such a heavy handed approach to websites did not make much sense and proposed amendment is a step in the right direction.