Legal Problem Solving 101: Identifying and Selecting Issues for Analysis
By Prof. Padmanabha Ramanujam

When trying to solve a legal problem, the first step is identifying what is the “legal” in the problem at hand. That is, what would be the legal issue under contention in the given set of facts. So, how do we identify such issues for analysis?

First, we begin by trying to narrow our focus to only those questions which fall within the scope of our problem. There are two ways to determine the scope. Either it mentioned expressly or we must derive it from the relationship between a client and other parties, the relief sought, and the procedural posture of the case. Such as, in a case between a client and the defendant, we cannot raise a contention against a third party.

Second, we identify all relevant questions. For this, we need to apply the potentially applicable rules to the given facts. It might so happen that the rules we thought were relevant at first, don’t even apply to our case. A rule would apply to a situation when it affects the rights and responsibilities of a person.

Third is being concise. There would be certain issues that are both within the scope and relevant, yet whose answer is also obvious. Such issues should not be discussed. Legal documents should be concise and discuss the issues succinctly or with as much detail as they deserve.

Fourth crucial organizational habit for identifying and selecting issues for analysis is to divide them in separate issues and sub-issues. For the sake of clarity, we analyze the legal problem one issue at a time. There may be further sub-divisions within the issue. This happens when a legal rule includes several elements with distinct and contentious applications. In such cases, we make use of sub-issues but only where needed.

This summarizes the steps that we must take toward legal problem solving. Stay tuned to know what happens next!

  Bachan Singh v State of Punjab AIR 1980 SC 898

“The death penalty is not about whether people deserve to die for the crimes they commit. The real question of capital punishment in this country is, do we deserve to kill?”

(Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption)


Philosophers, moral theorists, fiction writers, and the legal fraternity have widely debated the death penalty. While many countries have completely abolished it, India has taken a restrictive approach instead, in response to various contentions. Bachan Singh v State of Punjab is a landmark case by the Indian Supreme Court (SC) that dealt with the constitutionality of the Death Penalty. In this case, the Sessions court awarded the death penalty to the appellant for the murder of three people, Desa Singh, Durga Bai, and Veeran Singh. There were two issues for consideration in the appeal raised in front of the SC. Firstly, whether the punishment of the death penalty for murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code is unconstitutional. And secondly, whether the sentencing procedure laid down in Section 354(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is unconstitutional because it vests unbridled and unguided power for sentencing. The SC dismissed the question of the constitutionality of the two sections. It did, however, propound the doctrine of ‘rarest of rare’ and reiterated the condition under Section 354(3) CrPC, i.e., the courts should award it as an exception and not the rule. Only in cases that are heinous and extreme, which shake the collective conscience of the society should the courts sentence someone to die.

Now, the issue that plights us is how do we decide which cases fall under the broad category of being heinous and grave enough that it shakes our collective conscience. The latter bit is also quite dependent upon the kind of media coverage a case receives. This makes the doctrine susceptible to arbitrariness and reliant on the judges’ values and sensitivity. The SC critiqued this vague nature of ‘shaking the collective conscience’ in Santosh Kumar Satishbhushan Bariyar v. The State of Maharashtra.

Despite, the doctrine and its recognized ambiguities, the death penalty continues to be imposed widely, especially by the trial courts. There is, therefore, a need to revisit the law and reconsider the appropriateness of the death penalty.

  Niche Area Of Law- Artificial Intelligence and Law

“As more and more artificial intelligence is entering into the world, more and more emotional intelligence must enter into leadership.”

~Amit Ray


Some of the best scene in the Marvel Universe is where Tony Stark asking Jarvis (AI) a question and Jarvis answering in the form of a sarcastic conversation. When I was younger, I thought this was utterly amazing and, of course, I wanted my own Jarvis that would answer any question I cared to ask it. This was around the time when Nokia Phones were king and the BlackBerry were coming on the market, so needless to say, a computer that could talk and interact was quite a ways off. Today, we are living in the age of the internet. The usage of technology has become an integral part of human life almost to the extent of it being an essential component of existence. With the interdependence of life and technology, technology has become a crutch for interaction. This has opened up a new host of problems with increasing avenues for exploiting the vulnerability of the apps and its userbase.

For example- Whether the rules of the virtual world would be the same as compared to the real world? Would it be possible to attribute the same essential ingredients of a crime in the virtual world? For example: “Sweetie 2.0”, a chatbot developed by Terre des Hommes that can be used globally to fight webcam sex with children. The issues with such an experiment were related to Sweetie 2.0 being an AI and not a real person. Can one be prosecuted for the crimes against an AI?

Considering the size of the legal market, this represents a significant opportunity for value creation. As artificial intelligence, and in particular natural language processing, continue to mature, they will unlock massive opportunities to transform and revitalize the field of law.


Alien Laws

When in Singapore say no to ‘chewing gums’!  

Chewing gum was banned in Singapore by the Regulation of Imports and Exports (Chewing Gum) Regulations. Importing, selling, or manufacturing chewing gum is punishable by a heavy fine and a possible prison sentence. It is expected to have a negative impact on the environment and human health. In fact, there are no gums for sale in Singapore. However, the chewing gum prohibition was partially eased in March 2004 after the government agreed to allow the sale of gum as part of a free-trade agreement with the United States of America. However, on the other hand, permitted gums are limited to those that had medicinal benefit, such as nicotine gum and oral dental gum.


According to the authorities of Greek ancient and classical antiquities in 2009, female travelers to Greece must wear shoes that do not damage the artefacts. These monuments have skin, and high heels, according to them, might cause holes because they are under the weight of the entire body. Along with heels it also bans food items. Alexander Mandis, the Odeon's chief archaeologist said, "This monument is quite tired,". "Poking it with heels and cleaning the marble to get rid of dried gum makes it hurt even more."

  Off Heels in Greece.

Nani Palkhiwala

Nani Ardershir Palkhivala (16 January 1920 – 11 December 2002) was a lawyer, Jurist, a taxation expert, a corporate leader, a diplomat, an economist or an orator par excellence . He completed his Schooling from St. Xavier’s College Bombay. He was a dedicated scholar and, not letting a stammer hold him back, he excelled. A Law Graduate from Government Law College Mumbai. He became an asset to the country and inspired a lot of youngsters to become law graduates and become not just a part of the bar but eminent economists, political leaders and judges of highest courts. He was one powerful, beautiful mind blending all these facets.

He ranks amongst the greatest intellectuals of modern India. He joined the Tata Group in 1961, became a director of Tata Sons at the young age of 41 years, and worked very closely with JRD Tata for over 30 years. He served as director of Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Indian Hotels, and as chairman of Tata Consultancy Services.

At the heart of Nani Palkhivala’s success was that he was true to his beliefs, a man of absolute intellectual integrity. He became a part of Legendary judgements which shaped the Constitution ahead from when it was framed.

In Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala (1973) Nani Palkhiwala arguing from the side of the petitioner persuaded the Apex court to accept the basic structure doctrine and this judgment was considered as landmark in defining the concept of Basic Structure Doctrine making Justice Khanna remark It was not Nani who spoke. “It was divinity speaking through him."

In Privy Purses Case Nani Palkhiwala challenged the Government’s midnight executive order derecognizing the Privy Purse since he was appalled by the Government’s breach of faith

For many years, he was President of the Forum of Free Enterprise, which advocated a progressive, liberal economic agenda for the country something he wanted and was very passionate about. Palkhivala’s annual budget speeches were legendary, and held the public spellbound. The address, which began at a hotel in Bombay, would one day be held in Mumbai’s packed Brabourne Stadium. These speeches became so popular that they were, in 1983, to the Brabourne because no other venue in the city was large enough to accommodate the crowds. He argued that the law should not only be understood by judges and lawyers, but also by the general public.

When Palkhivala was inducted into the Tata Group, he had been given a dispensation to continue his private legal practice as well. In 1975, In one of the most legendary moments in the Indian History he agreed to defend the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, when the Allahabad High Court overturned her election to the Lok Sabha, on grounds of corruption. He decided to become her lawyer even if he never agreed with many of her economic policies only because of his belief that the judiciary should not be permitted to dismiss an elected official on what were, in his view, inadequate legal grounds and what was travesty of justice unbalancing the basic structure of constitution.

Palkhivala won a stay in Indira Gandhi’s favour, but the moment he heard thereafter that she had declared a state of emergency, he felt outraged. A man defending the Constitutional rights of people This was, in his view, a subversion of the Constitution. So, at personal risk to himself, he decided to withdraw his brief as her lawyer. The Tata Group allowed Palkhivala to follow his own conscience, and to take this call. The Man of principles and epitome of legal ethics had remarked to Law Minister “This is not negotiable. I am only informing you of my decision."

This invaluable and rare combination of intellect, integrity and humility was accompanied by his total commitment to hard work. At the young age of 29 years, he worked intensely for 12 to 15 hours each day, and this for several months at a stretch, to write his first book, “Law and practice of Income Tax", co-authored with Jamshed Kanga. This book has served as a veritable Bible for students and practitioners of taxation in India. His contribution to the country was so immense that C. Rajagopalachari is widely quoted to have said “Nani is God’s gift to India”.

His life can be summarized in this quote where he put across the purpose of life of a lawyer.

“The Constitution was meant to impart such a momentum to the living spirit of the rule of law that democracy and civil liberty may survive in India beyond our own times and in the days when our place will know us no more.”

~Nani Palkivala

By Prof. Deepu Krishna
  News & Events  
Memorandum of Understanding: IFIM Law School and YCM Conflict Management & Mediation Initiative

We are glad to announce the launch of the YCM Bengaluru Chapter at IFIM Law School. YCM Conflict Management and Mediation Initiative along with IFIM aims to propagate culture mediation and conflict management in the present generation. It will build an army of smart individuals, who will be able to tackle every problem in an amicable and fruitful manner.

Read Here:

International Scopus Publication

“Conflict is the primary engine of creativity and innovation”
~Ronald A. Heifetz

Our Faculty Member Prof. Apoorvi Shrivastava  published an article titled “A Quagmire of Public-Private Arbitration” in Q1 scopus journal Oeconomia Copernicana, Poland. She highlighted the issues of the twisted triad-“private entity, public unit, and arbitration”. Further, she has also proposed the necessary provisions and required amendments so as to create a smooth path for successful Public-Private Arbitration.

Read Here:


"What do you get when you cross the Godfather with a lawyer? An offer you can’t understand."

The Paper Chase, Loving, The Client, 13th, Into the Abyss, Marshall, Erin Brockovich, 12 Angry Men, Michael Clayton, Suits, Boston Legal, Jai Bhim…….

Do you know what’s common with the above list? It is the list of movies/TV series we have watched. These stories took us through the lives of lawyers, their work, their idea of justice, the impact of lawyers on society, etc. I always ask this question to Law School aspirants, “what do you truly desire?”. Is it the money or fame or both? Is being a Legal Professional an answer?

Let’s go through the scope of pursuing law in India.

Well, I wish I could list them all down here. But let me start with the most picked/chosen areas by a law student.

Law-related competitive Exams (For example- Judiciary, Bank Legal Advisor, Other govt. legal advisory departments)
Independent Legal Practitioner
Law firm Associate/Partner
Academics (on qualifying UGC-NET JRF)

That’s all?

That’s the list of a few of those areas where law students can make their careers in.

Corporate Lawyer
Policy Maker
NGO Head
Business Leader
Chartered Accountant
Company Secretary
Data Privacy and Security attorney


Freelance Drafting, Freelance legal advisor, or anything else you want to be. The time at Law School is an investment. The focus should be on holistic growth and development.

Do you know why?

Because my friends, competition is high and for sure you would not like to settle for less, right?

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks!


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