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Exploring the new frontiers of law


VINOD SURANA

The International Law Students Association (ILSA) is a body which enjoys advisor status to the U.N. and Mr. Vinod Surana, partner in Surana and Surana International Attorneys, is its first Indian president.

Fresh dynamism in the ILSA's mandate of promoting international cooperation among law students will be his endeavour. He tells K.Ramachandran, that legal practice is likely to shift in significant measure from Court rooms to corporate board rooms.

TRAVELLING A lot, learning more everyday, planning future activities for an international student body. And still keeping abreast of global developments in legal practice and studies. Mr. Vinod Surana has his hands full.

Mr. Surana is the first Indian to become world president of ILSA. Earlier, he was its Indian region Director.

ILSA's flagship project - the Philip C Jessup International Law Moot Court competition - gives students of international law around the world an opportunity to battle on issues. This year, he was the force behind the Indian rounds held recently in Chennai. The final rounds will be held in Washington D.C in April.``The well-known Jessup programme is but a part of ILSA's main aim of promoting international cooperation and understanding by bringing in talented legal brains. In the week-long world rounds, law students of different nations get to understand other systems and cultures better through interaction,'' says Mr. Surana.

``My first mandate during the year long presidentship was to increase ILSA fraternity. We have promoted new chapters in India and the region in the past few months. Our team has energised the sister-schools programme to increase partnership and flow of resources from law schools of developed countries to those in developing countries. For example, the Dr. Ambedkar Law College, Chennai, can hope to get books and journals from a sponsoring institution in the U.S.''

``We also sponsor brief internships for young lawyers in legal firms and institutions in other countries to gain first hand experience of other legal systems''.

Keeping with the times, ILSA's website (www.ilsa.org) is regularly updated and its journal reaches its 10,000 members and 32,000 associate members.

Armed with law and management course certificates from Cornell and Harvard, Mr. Surana - the only son of an advocate couple - sees a sea- change in the legal profession in the very near future.

``Today commerce influences economics and policy...even the concept that a Nation-state is Supreme. Soon, international trade and commerce will change lawyers, law firms and Laws themselves.''

In India, 90 per cent of legal profession is confined to litigation and courts, as each lawyer is an institution. But in the next few years, the trend will change drastically. As per the present trends in GATT/TRIPS negotiations, ``we have to open up our service sector which means entry of foreign law firms. We may stall but cannot stop the turn of events.''

Clients, he predicts will demand so. Foreign law firms have specialists in different branches of law such as international mergers, corporate acquisitions, power purchase agreements, cyber-laws and intellectual property rights. ``Today, when business agreements and new protocols are signed in these areas, only firms which have sufficient resources, expertise and data bases, might be able to help Indian and trans-national clients here.''

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