“It is a pleasant world we live in, sir, a very pleasant world. There are bad people in it, Mr. Richard, but if there were no bad people, there would be no good lawyers.”
― Charles Dickens
Lawyers occupy a critical and sensitive place in the functioning of a society governed by the rule of law. The way lawyers conduct themselves directly impacts public confidence in the profession and more broadly, in the administration of justice. For this reason lawyers have a duty to encourage public confidence in their profession. This means maintaining the highest of ethical standards and always acting in the best interests of a client and the community. The most familiar image of lawyers is litigating lawyers as they represent their clients in court. Litigating lawyers are called upon to argue various kinds of issues, ranging from property matters to criminal matters, constitutional issues to matters of family law. These lawyers argue the law to make sure that their clients’ interests are represented in the best possible manner before courts that deliver verdicts.
As a law graduate your can also choose to work with corporate law firms or the legal departments of corporate houses where you will be engaged in drafting agreements for mergers for acquisitions, joint ventures and the likes or giving legal advice on labor or corporate law-related matters. Lawyers help business work in the best possible manner, and are an extremely important part of any business transaction. Simply put, without lawyers, many corporations would find themselves struggling to understand how to actually put their ideas in place. Lawyers make it happen!
Lawyers are sometimes also referred to as ‘social engineers’. Many lawyers help people in distress, advocating areas that they are concerned about, such as child rights, women’s issues, or the protection of refugees.
- Lower Judiciary
There are two avenues open to become a member of the judiciary. The first and better-known one is to start a litigation practice and hope to get elevated to the bench. Since litigation lawyers are attorneys who work mainly with lawsuits, the main duty of a litigation lawyer is to take a lawsuit to court and try to win the case. Sometimes, litigation attorneys settle cases out of court, but themselves will handle most lawsuits they receive in court. Litigation Layers occupy the offices of the presiding officers of various courts right up to the post of District Judge.
- Higher Judiciary
The other option is to participate in the competitive process for the judicial services. Fresh graduates through an entrance exam conducted by the respective state public service commissions (Karnataka, UP, MP, Rajasthan etc.) or the High Court ( Delhi). An entry through this avenue assures you of promotions and a secured employment early on in the career.
As a lawyer, you can choose a specialization and focus your career in any of the following domains:
- Environmental Law
Environmental lawyers specialize in legal matters concerning air, land and water. They lobby for balanced regulations regarding pollution and environment safety and hazards, fight to protect biodiversity, agriculture and ecosystems, and confront issues of waste management. Environmental attorneys also help companies become greener and to draft business practices aimed at sustainability.
- Constitutional Law
Constitutional lawyers must be knowledgeable about the technicalities of constitutional law and its amendments, including Supreme Court decisions that have established new legal precedents. Additionally, constitutional lawyers must be detail oriented, interact well with clients, and possess excellent written and verbal communication skills. The ability to work well under pressure and think critically and analytically about the laws and concepts discussed in the constitution are also required.
- Intellectual Property law
Intellectual property law deals with the rules for securing and enforcing legal rights to inventions, designs, and artistic works. The purpose of these laws is to give an incentive for people to develop creative works that benefit society, by ensuring they can profit from their works without fear of misappropriation by others. Patents give inventors/develops the right to use their product in the marketplace, or to profit by transferring that right to someone else. Trademarks protect symbols, names, and slogans used to identify goods and services. The purpose is to avoid confusion, deter misleading advertising, and help consumers distinguish one brand from another
- Mergers Acquisitions
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is a sub-practice area under corporate law. Corporations are often involved in merging with other businesses, or divesting portions of the existing business. M&A lawyers assist their clients with the appropriate financing for mergers and acquisitions and provide advice concerning the drafting, negotiation, and performance of contracts for the sale of portions of the business. The vast majority of M&A attorneys work in large or mid-size law firms.
- Project Finance
Project finance lawyers must have mastery of legal and commercial skills as any other banking lawyer, ranging from the drafting of sophisticated financial covenants to creating security over every class of asset imaginable. They must also delve into assessing how large industrial facilities will be able to generate sufficient revenues to service their debt obligations over periods that often extend to decades. To say that gaining a thorough understanding of the inner workings of a project at the same time as applying sound legal skills is challenging.
- Foreign Investment
Lawyers specialized in foreign investment provide assistance to foreign companies for routing entry strategies for investment in a country and assisting them through Government regulations and procedures for setting up their operations. They advise clients on foreign business transactions, acquisitions, and tax issues of the country. These lawyers need to assist clients in complying with the provisions of Foreign Investment Management Act (FEMA) 1999 on routing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in a country . Lawyers should have in depth knowledge of international markets and FEMA and have comprehensive experience in cross border transactions.
- International Organizations
Lawyers specializing in this domain need to have a clear understanding of how conflicts and wars develop and how they may be managed or resolved, strategically, diplomatically or informally. In addition to the psychological, cultural and legal aspects of conflict, lawyers need to possess the tools to deal with conflict such as negotiation, mediation, public and economic diplomacy. International intervention, third party involvement and peacekeeping will also be part of their job descriptions, with particular attention to their integration into the strategies of governmental and non-governmental bodies.
- International Development
International development is a multidisciplinary field focused on improving the economic, political and social quality of life for people in developing countries through poverty alleviation, humanitarian and foreign aid, disaster preparedness, healthcare, education, economic and infrastructure development. Lawyers in international development provide legal education workshops to citizens in other countries, resolve disputes between host governments and project participants, or serve as a support for professionals on local laws in a host country. International development lawyers may work in NGOs, government agencies, non-profit organizations, or law firms and consulting groups.
- Human Rights
Human Rights are the basic rights and freedoms to which all human beings are entitled, like civil and political rights, the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and speech/expression, equality before the law, social, cultural and economic rights, the right to food, the right to work, and the right to education. In short, human rights are freedoms established by custom or international agreement that protect the interests of humans and the conduct of governments in every nation.
A human rights lawyer provides legal protection for people who feel that their civil and human rights have been abused.
- United Nations
The United Nations tries to help keep peace among nations by offering a platform for dialogue. This international organization also promotes economic development and human rights campaigns. Lawyers for the United Nations work in a wide variety of areas related to international law, such as environmental law, maritime law, trade law and the writing of treaties. To become a lawyer for the United Nations, you need a strong educational background in international law and experience working in inter-governmental organizations.
Research and Academics
Law teachers instruct students at law schools, perform research and produce scholarly articles and books. Additionally, law teachers are expected to contribute their training to the field, such as by doing consulting work and serving in organizations related to the legal profession, such as the All India Bar Association. Law teachers can also choose to practice law and teach part-time, while others are primarily professors, with the exception of consulting. Full-time law teachers usually have office hours in addition to their time in the classroom.
- Academic Writing and Research
Law by its very nature largely entails researching the law, communicating the results, and determining the best course of action for the client. The training for this important skill begins in law school and is in high demand at law offices. Legal research and writing has been called the “bread and butter” of any successful lawyer. As a student who like to read and research, and has a thirst for information, this lucrative career choice can be a fulfilling choice.
Media and Law
- Legal Journalist
Legal journalists possess strong research and writing skills, the ability to think critically, and an interest in law. Legal journalists research, document, uncover and write about stories that are of interest to legal professionals, as well as other readers. Becoming a legal journalist usually starts with first earning a degree in law and pursuing journalism courses afterwards. This provides them with knowledge of the law, as well as journalistic skills.
- Media Lawyer
Media lawyers provide legal services to clients in the motion picture, television, music, multimedia and online industries. This may involve production and distribution of entertainment products and services as well as multimedia software, copyright protection of creative content as distribution and piracy issues.
2. Academic Steps
Students can pursue law after clearing 10+2. This can be followed with a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Law.
The options are either three-year law course after graduation in any discipline or a 5 years’ course after 12th class. In fact, the 3 years’ course is now giving way to the 5 years’ one that is seen as a better option. In most cases, colleges run the 3 years’ course only for those whose main discipline in graduation is something other than law, or working professionals who want to do an LLB as an additional qualification. The five year course is meant for those who want to take up law as a career – be it as a litigator, or any other kind of legal professional.
- Entrance Exams:
Many universities/colleges have their own rules and regulations and conduct their own exams for taking admission in Law course. However at the national level in India, the Law School Admission Test, commonly known as LSAT is a standardized test of reading and verbal reasoning skills designed by the USA–based Law School Admission Council (LSAC) for use by law schools in India.
Delhi University for their LLB/LLM program conducts a separate law entrance exam.
SET Symbiosis- Symbiosis Entrance Test commonly known as SET is a common written test conducted for taking admission to undergraduate law programs offered by various institutes under Symbiosis International University.
ULSAT- UPES Law Studies Aptitude Test commonly known as ULSAT is conducted by the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (UPES).
- Exam Pattern
The CLAT is an objective type examination of 200 marks. Each question carries one mark. The duration of the examination is of two hours. Out of the 200 marks, the subject areas with weightage are as the following:
- English including comprehension – 40 marks;
- General knowledge and current affairs – 50 marks;
- Elementary mathematics – 20 marks;
- Legal aptitude – 50 marks
- Logical reasoning – 40 marks.
There is the provision of negative marking of 0.25 marks for each wrong answer.
- Higher Education
All students graduating from academic year 2009-10 onwards need to clear the All India Bar Examination in order to practice law in India.
Graduates can apply to take the All India Bar Examination only after they have enrolled as an advocate with the State Bar Council.
Master of Laws (LL.M.) – The LL.M. is most common postgraduate law degree that has duration of one/two years.
Integrated MBL-LLM/ MBA-LLM. -Generally a three year double degree is an integrated course with specialization in business law.
There are a host of opportunities on offer for a law graduate.
One can either practice as an advocate in a court of law or work with corporate firms. Passing the All India Bar Examination is a necessary condition for the practice of law in India for advocates who have graduated from academic year 2009-10 onwards.
By clearing exams conducted by Public Service Commissions, a law graduate can become a judge, which can lead to becoming the Solicitor General, a Public Prosecutor or offer services to government departments and ministries. You can also choose to work as a legal adviser for various organizations. Teaching in colleges, working with NGOs and working as a reporter for newspapers and television channels are other attractive options. With the advent of the Legal Process Outsourcing industry, yet another avenue has opened up for law graduates.
With the numerous options available, remuneration depends on the path you choose after your law degree. A lawyer who wishes to start practicing in a court can get a stipend of Rs 5000 to Rs 40,000 depending upon the advocate he is associated with whereas a law graduate working with Legal Process Outsourcing receives can earn attractive salary in the range of Rs 20,000 and Rs 50,000. A lawyer’s income depends on factors such as reputation, expertise and kinds of cases handled. They can earn between Rs. 127,000 to Rs. 4,105,000 per annum, depending upon the specialization and experience. There are advocates who are rumored to charge Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 1 crore for just one court appearance.
4. Information on Colleges
Given Below are some of the more reputed colleges in India (not in rank or order)
Note: This is not an exhaustive list.
- National Law School of India University– Bangalore
- NALSAR University of Law – Hyderabad
- National Law Institute University – Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
- National Univ of Juridical Sciences – Kolkata, West Bengal
- ILS Law College – Shivaji Nagar, Pune,
- National Law University – Rajasthan
- Symbiosis Society’s Law College – Pune, Maharashtra
- Gujrat National Law University – Gujarat
- Amity Law School – Uttar Pradesh
- New Law College – Pune
- Campus Law Center – Delhi
- Government Law College – Mumbai, Maharashtra
- Jindal Global Law School – Haryana, Punjab
- University Law College – Bangalore
- Faculty of Law Mumbai University – Mumbai, Maharashtra
- Deptt of Laws – Chandigarh, Punjab,
- Bangalore Institute of Legal Studies – Bangalore
- Army Institute of Law – Punjab
- University of Calcutta
- DES Law College – Pune
- Govt Law College – Trivandrum, Kerala
5. International Focus
- Yale University
- Harvard University
- Stanford University
- Columbia University
- New York University
- University of California – Berkely
- University of Chicago
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Michigan
- Duke University
- University of oxford
- University of Cambridge
- London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE),
- University of Nottingham
- The University of Melbourne
- University of Sydney
- University of New South Wales
- Australian National University
- Monash University
6. Top Companies
- Baker & McKenzie USA (Chicago, IL)
- Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom USA (New York, NY)
- Norton Rose Fulbright UK
- Linklaters UK (London)
- Latham & Watkins USA (Los Angeles, CA)
- Kirkland & Ellis USA (Chicago)
- Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer UK(London)
- Allen & Overy UK(London)
- Jones Day USA (Cleveland, OH)
- Sidley Austin USA (Chicago)
- White & Case USA (New York)
- Morgan, Lewis & Bockius USA (Philadelphia, PA)
- Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co
- AZB & Partners
- Khaitan & Co*
- Luthra & Luthra*
- Desai & Diwanji
- Kochhar & Co
- Wadia Ghandy & Co
- Fox Mandal
- Dua Associates