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Where did your legal career begin?

I was born and brought up in Delhi and studied law at Delhi University. I entered law after a brief

stint in legislature working with the Parliament Secretariat. I found there is nothing like being an

independent legal professional where you can give expression to your pursuits in a much more

robust manner than serving an organisation.

What’s it like being a lawyer in India?

In India, lawyers and activism of lawyers through the court system are very important facets of

how the country is governed. Courts have laid law and helped to fill gaps in government and

public issues. Lawyers play a major role in strengthening and implementing what you may term

the “social contract” of law, which often gets lost in competitive politics. Of course you have

to earn your bread and butter, but you can also play a role in strengthening rule of law and the

development of democracy that is more meaningful than aesthetic professional achievements.

Why is LawAsia important to the international legal community?

If you look at how the international legal community is developing, over past years the business

aspect of law has become overpowering. LawAsia, conversely, still maintains rule of law

concerns and freedom of the Bar and judiciary at its core. This is so important in Asia because

the democracy template is still developing – it is not stabilised like in Europe where such things

are taken for granted. We also emphasise that regional organisations might have better access

and better standing with hostile legal regimes in Asia than the West. Such regimes are often

unreceptive to Western or European and American discourse on human rights and democracy.

The 2016 LawAsia conference will be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Why there?

During the recent civil war that only officially ended in 2013, Sri Lanka underwent a rough phase

from a rule of law point of view and independence of the judiciary point of view. LawAsia stood

by the Sri Lankan legal profession during this time and there’s now wide acknowledgement of

LawAsia within the Sri Lankan legal community. We wanted to showcase to the world how a local

legal profession can engage with, and be empowered by, international bodies like LawAsia to fight

battles in their own jurisdictions.

PRASHANT KUMAR, 46

Prashant Kumar is the President of LawAsia. He is a life member of the Bar

Association of India and the Supreme Court Bar Association and also heads

boutique law firm KPA Legal in New Delhi. He speaks to

KATE ALLMAN

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NEWS

ISSUE 22

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MAY 2016

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LSJ

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