A legal career can never go out of fashion. The profession of black robes is now gaining traction as more and more youth are getting attracted towards it. Here is a low down on the career in law
If there was ever a time to make a career in law, it is now. India has one lawyer per 1,000 people which translates into 1.3 million in a country of 1.35 billion. And there are 12 judges per one million persons in India as opposed to 41 in Australia and 107 in the United States of America.
While the statistics do not sound good, on the economic front, India is poised to take the big leap in the comity of nations but is it equipped enough legally to face the barrage of issues that would inevitably crop up in corporate, taxation, labour, cyber, international laws and intellectual property. The answer is a big No. What is true is the opportunities in law are plenty.
In the recent World Justice Project’s latest Rule of Law Index that ranks 113 countries on their adherence to law based on 44 parameters, ranked India at 66th position. In another ranking-Variety of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute, a research project that tries to evolve new measures of democracy, India’s ranking is low and the reason cited is the increasing concentration of powers in the hands of one individual. The observations point to the need for good lawyers in times to come.
Law as a profession was always on top of the list and the growing number of students of class 11 going for coaching classes to gain entry into premier law institutions is an indication but the demand is about to out beat supply.
Unlike the past, the opportunities for law graduates are aplenty. They could join law firms, corporate, LPOs, NGOs, consulting companies, banks, legal publishing, legal correspondents in newspapers. With legal transcription, just like medical transcription gaining traction, many graduates are making a mark in the field.
With practically every field opening up post-liberalisation, specialisation in law has become the order of the day. There are people solely concentrating in cyber law, space law, aviation law, sports, media, arbitration, insolvency and bankruptcy. Sukvinder Singh, a prominent high court lawyer in Hyderabad says, “There was a time when one would either specialise in criminal or civil law. Today, young graduates have so much to choose from.”
A fine example is Jay Satya, from the National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS), Kolkata who started a website glaws.in in 2010 while he was in the first year itself and is today the most sought after expert in gaming laws. With online and offline gaming gaining traction in India, the question of whether a game contains skill, criminal liability and the like are issues that several states are grappling with. There are hardly any experts on gaming laws in India and Jay is being looked up to for a policy framework.
In the present era of information capitalism, economic liberalisation and WTOs, the facets of the legal profession has changed, with the line of work catering to a new breed of consumers namely the foreign companies and collaborations.
|What Does It Take To Become a Lawyer?|
For anyone aspiring to become a lawyer should have the following basic skills:
· The aptitude to read and comprehend difficult texts
· The ability to think logically
· The skill to write flawlessly, and
· The capability of speaking cogently
The Role of the Bar Council of India
The Bar Council of India was established under section 4 of Advocates Act 1961. The council was formed as a statutory body by the Parliament to regulate and also represent the Indian bar. Their task involves prescribing standards of professional conduct and etiquette, and by exercising disciplinary jurisdiction, they are also involved in setting standards for education in law and grants recognition to the Universities who provide degree in law to candidates eligible to become future advocates.
|The following statutory functions under Section 7 cover the Bar Council’s regulatory and representative mandate for the legal profession and legal education in India:|
1. To lay down standards of professional conduct and etiquette for advocates.
2. To lay down procedure to be followed by its disciplinary committee and the disciplinary committees of each State Bar Council.
3. To safeguard the rights, privileges and interests of advocates.
4. To promote and support law reform.
5. To deal with and dispose of any matter which may be referred to it by a State Bar Council.
6. To promote legal education and to lay down standards of legal education. This is done in consultation with the Universities in India imparting legal education and the State Bar Councils.
7. To recognise Universities whose degree in law shall be a qualification for enrolment as an advocate. The Bar Council of India visits and inspects Universities, or directs the State Bar Councils to visit and inspect Universities for this purpose.
8. To conduct seminars and talks on legal topics by eminent jurists and publish journals and papers of legal interest.
9. To organise legal aid to the poor.
10.To recognise on a reciprocal basis, the foreign qualifications in law obtained outside
India for the purpose of admission as an advocate in India.
11.To manage and invest the funds of the Bar Council.
12.To provide for the election of its members who shall run the Bar Councils.
The Bar Council of India can also constitute funds for the following purposes:
1. Giving financial assistance to organise welfare schemes for poor, disabled or other advocates,
2. Giving legal aid, and
3. Establishing law libraries.
The Bar Council of India can also receive grants, donations, and gifts for any of these purposes.
Current Scenario of Legal Education in India
Globalisation and the new found dimensions of India’s economy and polity have brought new summons, and among all other sectors, it is the law and order that emerges as one of the most important challenge that the country is tackling right now. As a result, the criminal and the civil justice systems are under severe stress.
Where in the past all that was required, was to impart knowledge that pertained black letter law and certain principles and provisions of law and that would help the students to start their careers as lawyers, the scenario has changed now where the whole concept of ‘local practice’ has transformed into ‘transnational practice’. The education of law has become an economic necessity, as was envisaged by Nathan Roscoe Pound – a distinguished American legal scholar and educator.
In the present day today, legal education has to touch-base the various facets that are related to it such as comparative Law, information technology, intellectual property, corporate governance, human rights, environment, and international trade law, investment, and commerce, transfer of technology, alternative dispute resolution and space.
As per experts, in order to ensure a successful implementation of an integrated legal learning the aim of the legal curriculum should imbibe a two-fold learning approach that would develop:
- The effective learning skills of the students, by competently completing tasks like interviewing clients or preparing them to cross examine witnesses, and
- Enhance their ability to remember the facts that the clients communicate to them
Law Universities in India
Where traditionally law education merely revolved around conferring degrees such as LL.B. (Bachelors of Laws) and B.L. (Bachelor of Law), the modern design and political vehemence of the country demanded a more refined and reformed form of legal education.
Hence, the Law Commission and the Bar Council of India insisted for a more specialised form of legal education in the country. The purpose of these law universities is to offer a multi-disciplinary and a more integrated legal education to the young Indian populace. With the decision to establish an exclusive law university the National Law School (NLS) of India University was established in Bangalore in 1985-86.
Other law universities include, National Law Institute University in Bhopal set up in 1997, followed by NALSAR university of law established in 1998.
The National Law University, Jodhpur offered for the first time in 2001 the integrated law degree of “B.B.A, LL.B. (Honours)” which was preceded by the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences offering the “B.Sc., LL.B. (Honours)” degree.
These specialised universities are meant to offer a multi-disciplinary approach to legal education and for the first time an exclusive degree in law was granted in India. NLS designed a five years law course upon the successful completion of which an integrated degree with the title of “B.A.LL.B. (Honours)” would be granted.
List of Few of the Best Law Colleges in India
|1. NLSIU Bangalore – Established under the National Law School of India University Act (Karnataka Act 22 of 1986), this university imparting legal education is one of the first exclusive law universities of the India. Because of the highly specialised legal education that this university imparts, it is popularly known as ‘Harvard of East’.|
The chief Justice of India is the Chancellor of NLSIU and Chairman of Bar Council of India is also the Chairman of General Council.
2. NALSAR Hyderabad – The National Academy of Legal Studies and Research was set in 1998 by the Statute of the State of Andhra Pradesh. Home to many vital conversations on law and justice, this university located in Hyderabad using law as an instrument of social change, has supported several crusades dedicated towards bringing a change in the society.
The faculty and learners both hail from India and abroad.
3. NUJS Kolkata – The National University of Juridical Sciences a part of the West Bengal National University was established under West Bengal Act IX of 1999, but was granted permanent affiliation by the Bar Council in July 2005.
Just like NLSIU Bangalore, even this university is also one among the few that has the honourable Chief Justice as its Chancellor. The university was one of the first few universities to provide integrated law degrees. NUJS offers ‘B.Sc., LL.B. (Honours)’ degree.
4. NLU Jodhpur – The National Law University – Jodhpur is one of the leading law schools of the country. Conventionalised in 1999, NLUJ produces a host of exceptional lawyers and legal scholars every year. The university offered an integrated law degree of ‘B.B.A, L.L.B (Honours) for the first time in 2001.
5. NLIU Bhopal – The National Law Institute University – Bhopal was established by an Act No. 41 of 1997 enacted by the Madhya Pradesh State Legislature. NLIU boasts of being one of the best centres of legal education, research and training in the world.
6. NLU Delhi – The National Law University – Delhi was established by Act No. 1 of 2008, is considered as a premier Law University, and is located in the capital city of India.
Hon’ble Mr. Justice Rajendra Menon, Chief Justice of Delhi High Court is the Chancellor of this university.
7. GNLU Gandhinagar – The Gujarat National Law University set under the Gujarat National Law University Act, 2003, is a statutory university established by the Government of the state.
The university boasts of holding regular Moot Court competitions, post which the students who gain the acclaim are sent abroad for Moot Court jamborees.
Law as a Career
As India progresses towards economic growth and due to a rapid development in different professional educations, ‘Law’ emerges as one of the hot career options for the next gen aspirants. Owing to its multi-disciplinary nature, the education of law emerges as a unique field quiet different from its contemporaries such as other social science subjects. This is the reason why there are comprehensive tests conducted for this field.
List of some Legal Education Examinations in India
|1. CLAT: Till 2008 all the national varsities providing degree in Law used to conduct separate entrance tests, but then the Common Law Admission Test was brought into existence. Students can sit for this exam after passing their 12th standard|
2. LSAT: Other than CLAT, the Law School Admission Test (LSAT – India) has gained a lot of distinction in the last few years, to the extent that some prominent law colleges today use LSAT’s scores. LSAT is a standardised test of reading and verbal reasoning skills designed by the USA-based Law School Admission Council (LSAC)
3. AIBE: The All India Bar Examination is conducted to access a lawyer’s capabilities to practice law in India. To be eligible to write the exam, a candidate must have cleared LLB and must be enrolled with any State Bar Councils
4. AP LAWCET: The Andhra Pradesh Law Common Entrance Test is conducted for 3 years and 5 years courses. The test is conducted on a state level annually. The test is managed by Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Anantapur on the behalf of APSCHE, Hyderabad
5. TS LAWCET: Telengana State Law Common Entrance Test is a state level test conducted by Kakatiya University, Warangal for 3 and 5 year courses in legal education
6. DU Law Entrance: The University of Delhi’s Faculty of Law conducts an exam to test the potential of candidates willing to take admission in LL.B and LL.M programmes. The aspirants should hold a bachelor’s degree of at least 50% marks
7. GLC Mumbai: The Government Law College, Mumbai conducts a Common Entrance Test (CET) for admissions to both 3 year and 5 year LL.B courses. The candidates sitting for 3 year LL.B programme should have passed any degree course, and candidates aspiring for 5 year LL.B degree program should be 12th pass with at least 50% marks
8. MH CET Law: The Indian Law Society’s Law College – Pune conducts the Maharashtra Common Entrance Test Law for admission in the BA.LLB and LLB courses
9. SSLC Pune: The Symbiosis Entrance Test is conducted by the Symbiosis Society Law College (SSLC). The eligibility for the selection in Bachelor of Law (BA-LLB) is 12th pass with minimum 50% marks, and the same stands for Bachelor of Law (BBA-LLB)
10. ULSAT – The UPES Law Studies Aptitude Test is conducted by the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (UPES). The test ascertains a student’s ability to take admission in B.A.LLB and LLB in Corporate Laws, Cyber Laws and Intellectual Property Rights.
Right from the beginning the profession of law has been quite competitive; however with the recent wave of changes, the legal line of work has become more rapid with the demands of law professionals increasing with every passing year.
A career option of law sounds quite lucrative. As per 2015 reports, the associates of large law firms like Khaitan & Company, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, S&R Associates and the likes, giving a base pay of 12 to 14 lakhs.
For a student planning to build up a career in Law, it is not only important to concentrate on cracking the examinations, but also to have in mind the various professions that branch out as prospective career options of legal education. Based on the same, a viable option of specialisation can be chosen.
Branches of Law
Here is a list of the various areas of specialisation available to law students:
- Civil Law
- Criminal Law
- Corporate Law
- Taxation Law
- Labor Law
- International Law
- Family Law
- Constitutional Law
- Administration Law
- Patent Law etc.
As per recent statistics, the Indian legal profession today consists of approximately 12 lakh registered advocates, close to 950 law schools with approximately 4-5 lakh law students taking admissions in them from across India.
The list of few of the highest paying legal jobs in India:
- Law Firms:
A law firm is usually either handled by a sole owner or established as a partnership venture. These firms usually engage lawyers on an exclusive retainer ship basis, and the hired professional is treated more like a consultant rather than an employee.
There are some top law firms in the country that are presently paying hefty salary, making law one of the most grossing jobs.
|Rank||Company Name||Number of partners||Number of lawyers||RSG Profile Score||RSG Client Satisfaction Score||Total Score|
|1||Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co||84||655||61||8.7||37.8|
|2||AZB & Partners||20||295||59||8.5||35.2|
|2||Khaitan & Co||81||354||55||8.7||35.2|
|4||J Sagar Associates||79||337||41||8.7||34|
|5||Luthra & Luthra Law Offices||42||292||30||8.2||30.4|
|8||Economic Laws Practice||25||129||5||9||26.2|
|9||Desai & Diwanji||27||187||12||8.5||25.8|
|10||Talwar Thakore & Associates||4||26||9||8.8||25|
- Trial Lawyer
Based on the skill and experience, a legal professional can climb up the ladder of attaining a position of a Trial Lawyer. They are one of the highest paid legal professionals not only in India, but also around the world.
- Cyber Law Jobs
This profession mainly branched out after the world progressed technologically, however, has attained quite a momentum in the recent past. Excessive population in the cyber world also brings with it nuances such as online injuries. Therefore to counter the cyber crimes, the Information Technology Act, 2000 was brought into existence, and along with it came opportunities for law professionals.
The cyber law professionals are really paid well, with an in house cyber law counsel getting ₹50,000 to 60,000 per month as their starting salary.
- Intellectual property rights
The professional in this field deals with copyrights, trade and patents. Publication, media and the likes are unending ball of games and so is the opportunity for a law graduate who enters this field of legal occupation. Considered as another top notch job, just like a cyber law professional, even for intellectual property dealing associate, the starting salary ranges from ₹50,000 to 60,000.
Considered as one of the most honourable professions, a judge generally enjoys real high earnings as well as certain special privileges like health benefits, contribution to retirement plans, increment and compensations, and also expense accounts and contributions to retirement plans.
As per reports the pay scale ranges from ₹80,000 to 1,00,000 per month.
- Professor of Law
Love for education and updating knowledge can take a law enthusiast to the level of becoming a law professor. In fact, in today’s date the profession of Professor is in high demand, and that is because not only do they contribute by teaching but also by their academic and scholarly articles.
A field of innumerable opportunities, with host of options to apply and study in, the education and vocation of law no wonder has steeped-up to become one of the most lucrative and promising career option of today.
However, like any other field even this one too has its own cons too. Where there are good options available, there are also parts of legal education that needs to be reviewed. As per experts certain hard decisions need to be taken by the Bar, Bench and Law educationists to improve the standards of law education.
The decision to uphold and improve the quality of higher education in India is a wholesome one that involves multiple stakeholders. The question here is who will take the first step towards a progressive thinking?
A lawyer and a politician
There is something about lawyers and politicians. Are top class lawyers destined to become politicians? If one were to go by the number of lawyers in the political firmament, not just these days but right from the days of Indian freedom struggle, one can infer that politics attracts lawyers and lawyer-politicians add that chutzpah.
Several lawyer-politicians don the robes when in need and wear the ubiquitous white kurta with equal ease. In recent times Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Kapil Sibal, Arun Jaitley and Ravi Shankar Prasad have been making their presence felt.
It is not surprising that several parties appoint lawyers as their spokesperson. Erudite, well-spoken and up to date with the happenings, these legal eagles come to the rescue of their parties and leaders.
The love for the profession though is strong and many go back to fight legal battles and resume practice when not in power. The classic examples are of P Chidambaram, Manish Tiwari, Salman Kurshid and Kapil Sibal.
The rough and tumble of politics has also put lawyers in a spot and party high command disappointed. When Kapil Sinil represented Trinamool Congress, Congress leaders were an unhappy lot, likewise, the BJP leaders were angry when Ram Jethmalani represented Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh in cash-for-votes scam.
How to draw a distinction between politics and the legal profession? Can lawyers be dispassionate on the one hand and also align with a particular party? Where does one draw a line? These are questions that have no straight answers. The debate would go on and in the meanwhile, BJP member and Supreme Court lawyer filed a petition seeking a ban on legislators practising law.
Among lawyer-politicians Kapil Sibil is one who has the fought cases for almost all top politicians from different political parties. Similarly, Satya Pal Jain of BJP, a sought after lawyer represented politicians from across the spectrum. He fought for Modi, Advani, Subramanyam Swamy, Bhajan Lal and many others.
Several lawyers who specialise in constitutional and election matters are in demand. One of the busiest lawyer-politicians has to be Abhishek Manu Singvi of Congress recently said that he gave up more than 80 cases as it would offend his party.
Pinaki Mishra of Biju Janata Dal, Majeed Memon, NCP, Prashant Bhushan, Swaraj Abhiyan, Nalin Kohli of BJP and KTS Tulsi are all active lawyer-politicians who are adding flavour to the political scene in India.