The Indian education system, by default, creates multiple stages of stress in the academic journey of students. Arguably, the most intense amongst these is the Higher Secondary Examination (HSC or Class 12 board). HSC students are on the verge of choosing their life path (well, almost) after their exams. This dilemma is unexplainable – for some, it is the lack of options, and for others, it is the ocean of options to choose from. Either way, it is a huge stress on young minds.
Law as a profession offers a plethora of career avenues for students to explore and conquer. Thus, it is no surprise that more and more youngsters these days are gravitating towards law as their preferred choice of career and with good reasons. For every person with proficiency in communication, keen and logical reasoning, analytical skills and capacity to read and imbibe – legal sphere is the place to be. Law schools add on to these skills and make students legal professionals. This process has various steps.
Firstly, an entrance exam needs to be cleared to gain admission into a good and reputed law school. The most sought after ones are – CLAT (For most National Law Schools), AILET (NLU-Delhi), LSAT (scores accepted by various colleges like IIT Kharagpur’s Law School, OP Jindal Global University, Amity Law School, etc.).
Secondly, you need to know which course to opt for. The integrated 5 year graduate degree comprises bachelors of law coupled with other disciplines like B.A, B.Sc., B.Com and B.B.A. Students can choose their subjects based on interest and proclivity and the stream studied by him at the HSC level. The three-year law degree can be pursued by a graduate from any discipline.
Thirdly, a call needs to be taken during their final years in college, when the curriculum divides into specialisations like corporate law, intellectual property law, criminal law, etc. Moreover, by this time the student is well-armed to make an informed choice, having learnt the nuances of these specialisations during internships.
Upon graduation, the career options available to a law graduate are –
Litigation – Litigators or legal practitioners provide dispute resolution services to their clients by representing them in the courts of law. They handle a multitude of matters ranging from criminal, civil to commercial cases. However, at the onset of their careers, litigators have to learn the ropes by working under senior lawyers. Thus, the salary is not very lucrative during the learning stage and can be expected to range between Rs 15 – 20,000 per month. However, it rises exponentially with the level of experience and increase in clients.
Corporate Counsel – Corporate lawyers handle all transactions on behalf of companies either as a part of their in-house legal team or as part of corporate law firms who have been retained to provide legal services. The work area ranges from negotiating contracts to facilitating mergers, ensuring compliance of regulations, et al. A fresher starting off at a decent law firm can expect to earn between Rs 6-8 lakh per annum.
Judiciary and Civil Service – Exams for entering judicial services are conducted state-wise. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts a nationwide exam for recruitment to various civil service positions in the Government like Indian Administrative Services (IAS), Indian Foreign Services (IFS), Indian Police Services (IPS), etc. These are safe options for graduates desirous of a stable government job and for the ones who would like to view things from the other side of the table by becoming judges. However, it is recommended to sit for these exams after obtaining 1-2 years of work experience. Salaries for judges and government officials are revised from time to time as notified by the Government.
Judicial Clerkship – One can also gain experience and put his researching skills to good use by working under judges in various courts by opting for judicial clerkship which is offered on a contractual basis. A Supreme Court judicial clerkship can pay between Rs 40 – 50K per month.
Media and publication – Law graduates can also work towards the dissemination of information to the public on important legal matters by writing books, reporting news by covering courtrooms (legal journalism), etc. People with a penchant for writing, current affairs and politics will find it to be a very satisfying career.
Legal Process Outsourcing – By working at LPOs, law graduates can provide intelligent solutions to overseas clients like document review and support, contract vetting.
Academia – Another option for law graduates is to give back to the community by taking up the noble profession of teaching. However, one needs to have a Masters degree to become eligible to apply for teaching posts in colleges and universities. NET will also have to be cleared to get tenure. Salary will depend on the applicable Pay Commission. A Masters in Law (LL.M.) degree will add a ‘specialised’ status to your profile, especially when pursued abroad. Further, LL.M. in international laws like international commercial arbitration, international trade, international law and policy, will place you in the unique position to pick a country of your choice to settle in.
Social Work – Lawyers are, arguably, best equipped for undertaking social work as they are aware of the legal rights and obligation of all strata of society. Meaningful work can be done by working with NGOs and Government Commissions like National Commission for Women, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, National Human Rights Commission, etc.
In today’s world, there is no pigeon-holing of careers into neat, distinct compartments. Hence, law graduates can also combine their degree with other disciplines like business administration, company secretary, etc., or take up freelancing or even work with the think tanks. They can even end up carving out new careers for themselves in the days to come.
The author is Director, Manupatra Information Solutions Pvt Ltd (online legal research in India)