Advocate a legal practitioner. He is an agent of his client and an officer of the court at the same time. An advocate has a responsibility to his client as well as to the court. The institution of the advocate is a colonial creation. The advocate's equivalent person during the pre-British period was the wakil who represented his client at the Mughal Darbar but was not a member of the organized profession regulated by the law of the land.

The system of advocate began with the establishment of the Supreme Court of Judicature in Calcutta in 1774. The system was incorporated in the cornwallis code in 1793. Under Regulation 7 of 1793 Sadar Dewani Adalat was empowered to grant certificates to qualified persons as vakils to allow them to practise before that court or courts subordinate to it. By Regulation 27 of 1814 District courts were empowered to grant certificates to the pleaders of those courts. Regulation 12 of 1833 made provisions for granting certificates to the vakils to practise before the Sadar Dewani and Nizamat Adalats. Legal Practitioners Act of 1846 further defined the qualifications and functions of advocates. After the establishment of Calcutta High Court replacing Supreme Court, Sadar Dewani and Sadar Nizamat Adalat, High Court was empowered to grant sanads to advocates, attorneys and vakils to practice before that court.

In 1850, provision was made for granting certificates to those persons who had qualified in the pleadership examination for enrolment of pleaders. Law graduates were not required to sit for such examination for enrolment. Under the provisions of the Legal Practitioners Act of 1865 certificates were granted to qualified persons to practise as pleaders, mukteers or revenue agents. Under the provisions of Legal Practitioners Act of 1876, the High Court was empowered to grant certificates to the pleaders, mukteers and revenue agents. Pleaders could practise in all subordinate civil and criminal courts and revenue offices, mukteers only in criminal courts, and revenue agents only in revenue offices.

Originally, advocates could practise in the original side as well as the appellate side of the High Court and vakils could practise in the appellate side only. By the Bar Council Act of 1926 this distinction between advocates and vakils was removed. Subsequently, the Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Act of 1965 abolished the distinction between the advocates and other legal practitioners and made a provision for the enrolment of two classes of advocates, one for practising before the High Court and the other for practising before subordinate courts. This law abolished the names of pleaders, mukteers and revenue agents and designated them as advocates of subordinate courts. An advocate of a subordinate court could be enrolled as an advocate of the High Court after some years of practice.

From 1972 advocates are being enrolled and regulated under the provisions of the Bangladesh Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Order of 1972 and Rules made thereunder. The Bar Council has been constituted under the said Order with the elected representatives of the advocates, and with the Attorney General of Bangladesh as its ex-officio chairman. Bangladesh Bar Council grants licence to duly qualified persons to practise law either before the subordinate courts or before the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. After graduation in law from specified universities or often becoming a barrister, a person is eligible to appear in the examination held by the Bar Council for enrolment of advocates provided he has completed six months pupilage in the chamber of an advocate who has practised as an advocate for not less than seven years and who fulfils in turn other requirements. After passing such a written examination the candidate will have to pass the viva voce examination and also to complete a Bar Vocational Course conducted by the Legal Education and Training Institute set up by the Bar Council for enrolment as an advocate to practise in the subordinate courts of Bangladesh. After completion of two years practice as an advocate in any subordinate court a person is eligible to be enrolled as an advocate of the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, unless exemption is granted to him from the requirement of such a practice by the Bangladesh Bar Council and by fulfillment of other requirements amongst which are the written and oral examinations. Such a candidate has to appear and pass in the written as well as viva voce examination conducted for such enrolment by the Bar Council.

After enrolment as an advocate of the High Court Division and completion of five years practice in that court a person may apply to the Chief Justice of Bangladesh for enrolment as an advocate of the Appellate Division. An experienced advocate with several years of practice in the Appellate Division may be enrolled as a senior advocate of the Appellate Division. [Kazi Ebadul Hoque]