Legal Profession in Nepal

Enepalese Published on: January 28, 2024

Legal profession is one of the most recognized and prestigious professions in the
world to play an active role as a representative of the concerns of the oppressed or aggrieved
in the society or country. The history of it is a complex and varied one, spanning different
cultures and time periods. In earlier days, there was no provision of lawyers and judges,
however, there were representatives, and they were like the judges of today who
distinguished between right and wrong. Its development in world history can be seen in three
periods, namely the ancient Roman period, Europe in the Middle Ages and America in the
modern era.

In our context, Kuther, Sulli, Ligwal & Mapchowk were legal institutions during the
Kirant and Lichhivi period. Kuther’s main task was to collect revenue, Sulli to perform
functions related to criminal nature, Ligwal to investigate and resolve agricultural and
irrigation disputes and Mapchok was given to administer cases of family feuds. Apart from
these, the Mundhum was the main religious text that governed all the affairs of that era. At
that time five crimes were deemed heinous crimes called ‘Panchkhat’ (Murder, Theft,
Treason, Jari and Abetment). And those who would commit the Panchakat were given death
penalty. Additionally, During the Lichaavi period, judicial institutions i.e. the Purbadhikaran
and Paschimadhikaran were formed. And there was a system of Gram Panchayats that settled
local disputes.

During the time of Malla period, two courts were established i.e. Kottilinga and
Itachapali, the former dealt with criminal cases and the latter dealt with civil cases. Another
important point is that King Jayasthiti Malla issued “Manab Nyayashastra” which was the
first codified law of the state. During the Rana reign, many things were changed and
reformed. The examination of judicial officers was introduced in 1961 B.S. Candidates had to
pass four subjects and only then they were eligible to become court officials. At that time the
Pradhan Nyayalaya, the Court of Appeal and the District Court were the form of courts.
Similarly, the Pradhan Nyayalaya Act was enacted in Nepal in 2008 B.S. During this period
the Bar Council was established and the provision of licensing of lawyers was also

The Supreme Court Regulation was formed in 2013, following the replacement of the
Pradhannyayalaya Act that classified legal practitioners into four categories i.e. Senior
Advocate, Advocate, Pleader & Agent and their certain qualifications and experience were
also prescribed. Later, Legal Practitioners Act 2025 B.S. and its regulation also came into

After the issuance of the Bar Council Act 2050, the Code of Conduct for Legal
Practitioners was also passed in 2051B.S. The main objectives of the Bar Council Act are to
conduct examination of law professionals and issue licenses to them, monitor and regulate
their conduct, punish in case of violation of Act and code of conduct, and conduct advanced
training and seminars to enhance the skills and capabilities of law professionals. Likewise,
the purpose of this Code of Conduct is to provide professional and ethical regulation for law
professionals. Now law professionals are classified into three categories namely senior
advocate, advocate, and pleader.

Present Scenario of Legal Profession in Nepal
At present, individuals eligible to take the Bar exam must pass a licensing
examination to become a legal practitioner. After the enactment of the Bar Council Act, 2050,
those eligible to take Bar exam are required to pass the Bar examination conducted by the Bar
Council for being a legal practitioner. The sole purpose of the Bar is to conduct examinations,
issue licenses, and monitor legal practitioners. According to the Bar Council Act 2050 B.S.,
legal practitioners are divided into three categories i.e. Senior Advocates, Advocates &

There are certain criteria (qualifications and experience) to become senior advocates,
advocates, and pleaders, however, as it has been several years since intermediate of law was
phased out from the Nepalese legal education system, the Bar Council does not conduct
examinations for pleaders now. But there are still provisions for agents too. So, both the
examination and license for agents are conducted and issued by the District Court, however
these days it is not in regular practice.

Today there are more than 20 thousand legal practitioners (license holders) in our
country, but it is believed that less than 15% of them are practicing law as legal practitioners.
In fact, there are not enough legal practitioners or not as many as the country needs. The
funny and surprising thing is that although there are few legal practitioners, most of them
have not been able to compete in the market. The reason behind this is that neither the law
students are properly trained and tested in the campuses or universities, nor are they trained
after obtaining the license of legal practitioners nor the law degree courses are designed in
accordance with the bar examination. First, to become a legal practitioner or engage in any
legal field, students must complete their law degree up to graduation(LLB/BA.LLB) and then
they have to pass the licensing examination conducted by the Bar Council. After that, they
must compete fiercely with their competitors in the market. But unfortunately, proper
assessment of students is rarely found/possible in our country. Except for exception, in most
of the law campuses/universities where law is taught, there is a practice of giving needed
marks to the students.

There are some campuses/universities where students require certificates, and the
campus or university requires money. And from so called assistant lecturers to Deans to vice
chancellors want to secure their post as most of them are appointed by various sources and
forces. As a result, when students pass the exam, all the tripartite are happy, but they do not
know that the future of the student is in darkness. As a result, students face many problems in
their life. Students who pass in this way don’t pass the bar exam and in case they pass the bar

exam, they are not able to run easily in their field. In the end they have no other choice but to
remember the past and hit themselves on the head. Frankly speaking, the entire legal
profession has been brought into disrepute due to such devastating and harmful acts or
activities committed by our legal education system. The status and position of most law
professionals in this sector is as a matter of fact precarious.

Today lawyers (Legal practitioners) are considered as the most prestigious and
respected profession in the world, but in practice, it is not so in our country. There is an
interesting incident in my life related to the legal profession. One day two years ago, I took
my brother to the local police office, and called an Advocate to write an FIR and the ordinary
level police officer (ASI) said that he would write it himself and I told him it would be better
to get it written by an advocate. Then, he directly said that he could write a better FIR than
the advocates around there and began to laugh. His laughing style made me laugh there too
but I also felt sorry for the status of legal practitioners. After that we did not go to the
advocate office and the police officer wrote the FIR himself.

Our degrading legal education system and nepotism, favouritism and partism are the
main factors in lowering the standard of legal profession. There are many legal practitioners
as well who are looking for clients on the pretext of having tea in the courtyard in the hope of
getting a case. Even so, their routine is going on. The remaining so-called legal practitioners
teach in certain law schools/campuses and universities. Often, they do not have profound
legal knowledge, nor do they have command of the English language, nor do they have in-
depth jurisprudential knowledge and dashing powers of explanation and interpretation. As a
result, they are ultimately bound to compromise with the students. And how can progress be
made in this way? and what can we expect from law students who have acquired legal
knowledge from such incompetent lecturers? I am not blaming only the lecturers here. We
students are also more or less guilty of this. Being students, we don’t want to work hard but
want to get involved in politics and other activities so that we can impress the lecturers and
other officials of the concerned campuses/ universities and get enough marks to pass the

These above-mentioned subjects are seen and understood by the common people. Now
let’s go to a higher level. We all know that judiciary is one of the three major pillars of the
state. The main function of the judiciary is to give justice to the people. Having said that, are
the courts of Nepal giving justice to all the people? If I said yes, it would be injustice to the
real victims. In fact, justice is sold for money, political power, and position. Those with
money, political power and position are getting away with it despite committing crimes and
the real victims remain victims.

We have provisions on the rule of law, transparency, accountability, independent
judiciary, etc., but in practice, they have not been implemented and followed. Although the
judiciary is believed to be independent, the judiciary is politically dependent. From the
appointment of assistant lecturers to the appointment of the Chief Justice, there is a political
power here. It is not only a game of political power but also of money. As reported in the
media, at a later stage, deals for recommendation/appointment of justice and judges were also
made in foreign countries. What a disgusting game! There are hardly any areas of the legal

profession where there is zero political influence. Due to political influence and money game,
the trust of the common people towards the judiciary is decreasing day by day.

A Career in the Legal Profession
To be frank, the legal profession has a significant scope and wide opportunities if one
is competent enough in the legal field. We know that law practitioners play a crucial role in
upholding justice by interpreting the law and navigating the complexities of the legal system.
We are in the phase of dynamic or postmodern society and as the society evolves, new legal
challenges undoubtedly emerge. which is why, there is always a huge demand for legal
experts/practitioners in diversified fields of the society or country like technology, intellectual
property, cybercrime etc. apart from traditional crimes. Similarly, increasing business
complexity also contributes to the demand for corporate lawyers. Now every sector is looking
for legal advisors. There are many sectors/positions in the legal profession such as litigators,
officers of judiciary, company secretaries, policy makers/legal advisors/legal officers in
INGOs/NGOs, lawyers, law professors/lecturers, notaries publics, liquidators, arbitrators,
mediators, judges/justices etc. Talking about the salary, it depends on the field, position,
personality, professionalism, qualifications, experience etc of the person concerned.

Prospects of the Legal Profession in Nepal.

It is said that the present shows the future. Looking at the situation of the legal
profession, the future is very bleak in this field, but the present cannot show and predict the
future in all cases. Let’s hope that all the negative aspects of this field will disappear at the
earliest. For this, first, the judiciary should be free from political influence and corruption.
Fair justice should be the sole goal of the judiciary. Every judge or justice must respect and
comply with the law and always act in a manner that enhances public confidence in the
integrity and impartiality of the law. If this is done, every level of courts, judges or justices,
senior advocates, advocates, pleaders etc don’t get entangled in disputes and common citizens
also feel that they have got justice.

Despite the various negativities and challenges in this sector, there are many
opportunities as well. The demand for legal profession in various fields is increasing day by
day, but the problem is that what will the legal profession be like in the respective
sectors/positions? Now the question arises: Does a legal practitioner interpret the laws
correctly? The answer to this question is fraught with complexity. For example, if a doctor
kills a person, then the person concerned loses his life and his family members have to face a
lot of difficulties, but if the judge/justice does not give the right decision, not only the life and
property of the concerned person losses, but thousands upon thousands of people suffer due
to bad decision or wrong precedent. As a result, the entire society and country is badly
affected. So, the matter here is very deep-rooted.

Legal profession can be rewarding for those who are very passionate about law and
committed to making a positive impact on society in their own potential. However,
prospective legal practitioners should be aware of the demanding nature and challenges of the

profession. And everyone should know that the legal profession depends on personal
preferences, values, and career goals.