Law as a Career
Career options in law
The evolution of Law as a profitable career option is nothing short of remarkable. No longer does one have to envision visits to the court to further their career! One can now very well sit behind a sleek desk and conduct the legal affairs of some of the world’s multi-billion dollar global giants. One can also envision getting pro-active in social issues and work at prestigious institutions like the United Nations and the World Bank or teach at the premier Law institutions across the world. Keeping in mind India’s legal system which is similar to that of several jurisdictions across the world, a career in Law in India acquires international dimensions.
A list of career options in law is as follows:
The field of corporate law has evolved a lot as the rules governing companies have been virtually rewritten with the opening up of the market in the last decade. With existing businesses growing in size and with a large number of new business enterprises opening shop each year, corporate lawyers are definitely on a growth flight. Corporate law defines the rules of the game for business corporations. And corporate lawyers come into play whenever any of the parties involved cries foul – which is very, very often, indeed – to advise their corporate clients, to argue their cases in court, draw up business contracts for them and so on. Corporate lawyers advise corporations on their legal rights and obligations, are responsible for drafting and vetting and in negotiating contracts for the company, ensuring and monitoring compliance with laws and handling legal disputes that the company may be involved in. They also ‘brief’ leading lawyers who appear for the company in courts and tribunals.Large corporate houses like Princewater Coopers, GECapital, ICICI bank, ITC,IBM, Infosys, KPMG , HLL ,Wipro frequent law school campus recruitment programmes.
Corporate lawyers are paid handsomely and also enjoy various perks over and above the salary. A 'company job' offers tremendous security and also recognizes hard work.
Research and Academics
An education in Law provides an expertise in the area of legal research which requires patience, hard work, genuine interest and passion for research. Opportunities are available in the form of posts of research assistants, lecturers and scholars to head research departments. Prestigious scholarships promoting research provide incentives to people interested in research in other countries like UK and the USA. Hence, this provides opportunities to pursue studies abroad. Research in a law school is not just confined to a specific field, but today an average law student has to conduct studies and examine issues on diverse fields ranging from intellectual property rights, environmental law and space law to international arbitration. A law student gets a chance to publish and present one’s work at the International arena in publications like International Law Journals such as Harvard Law Journal, Oxford University Law Journal etc which brings international acclaim and a lot of money. People with a flair for teaching can take up the posts of lecturers, professors and become a part of faculty of leading Law Schools.
A career in media after a Law degree
For those who have good communication skills and are highly inquisitive, this is the right option. Working as a journalist is not only challenging but is also monetarily very rewarding. A legal education arms you with comprehensive writing and researching skills as well as teaches you to be conversant with facts and figures. You have the choice of reporting on legal issues or a number of other issues. As long as you are interested in a career that is socially relevant, and willing to pursue a career that is not strictly related to law, then this is certainly a very exciting career option to explore. It is without doubt that this career is extremely satisfying and intellectually very stimulating.
In India, the impact of journalism is on the rise. The readership of newspapers and television news channels ‘audience has increased. Hence the demand for journalists has all the more increased. So if you feel that you have a flair for communication, then this option is the most suitable for you.
Business Management after Law
Some people wrongly feel that the products of a law school can only become lawyers and nothing else. But we need to understand that law graduates are well versed with the legal skills and knowledge about all business dealings, too. Students graduating from law schools are quite familiar with all the legal procedures involved in a business. Usually they have excellent communication skills and are quite confident. These virtues open up new horizons for these graduates.
Many big companies are now opting to recruit law students keeping in mind all these advantages. The need for a high-paid senior adviser can be avoided to a great extent. This gives the company an added advantage as they end up hiring a person who can multitask well. A law student taking up business management and working in the non-legal department of a company is quite lucrative for both the employee and the employer. The employee gets a wonderful chance to lay a very strong foundation for his career as he now is aware of the business management skills. And the employer is happy as what else could he ask for when he finds an efficient person to govern a part of his business and at the same time also manage legal matters. Law students who take up business management are waiting to be received by many important establishments with very attractive pay packages.
Remember the Bollywood movies you have seen with those dramatic court scenes? The traditional picture of a lawyer wearing black robes is based on this popular image! This involves arguing in court on various issues ranging from property matters to criminal matters, constitution’s law, family law etc. Success of legal practice depends on mouth publicity by the clients. Normally a junior who joins the senior in chambers either ends up with his own private practice or as professional heir of his senior. But as he advances in career he may charge ‘per-appearance’ fee in the court which may range from a meager twenty thousand rupees to sums ranging in lacs, whereas an appearance may range between few seconds to minutes depending on the case and the lawyer’s reputation. Professionals like K.K.Venu Gopal, Fali Nariman, Soli Sorabjee are a few names who have followed this career path. Success in litigation requires a lot of patience, hard-work, subject expertise, experience and relationship building.
Like any other firm, in a Law firm also there is partnership among lawyers who share liabilities and profits of a firm and engage other lawyers to work with them as associates. These associates can work in the firm for a period of time and can even become partners in the firm and share in the profits of the firm.
There are separate litigation and corporate departments. The litigation department deals with the legal disputes of the clients of the firm. Corporate department advises companies on the corporate deals like acquisition of companies, important inter - company agreements, investment by foreign clients etc. Major law firms, both Indian and foreign, recruit from the top Indian law schools. Among the major recruiters are top law firms such as Amardas Mangaldas A. Shroff & Co.AZB Partners, J. Sagar & Associates and Luthra & Luthra law offices. Recruits join as junior associate in these firms and are later promoted based on performance. The top Indian law firms offer salaries that can go as high as six lac rupees a year and for foreign firms the figure is substantially higher. Recruit in a law firm enjoys a better salary than his counterpart in a company. At a law firm you get a chance to interact with senior officers of client companies and handle huge responsibilities at a young age.
The true aim of law is to bring about a social change in the lives of the less empowered, the deprived and the discriminated. Opportunities for social advocacy are available through non-governmental organizations, human rights organizations and allied organizations like United Nations, Amnesty and UNICEF. Environmental protection, gender concerns, caste-discrimination, unemployment, working condition of labors are prominent social issues that are not only part of course curriculum of certain law schools but issues for which NGOs stand. A sizeable number of law school students join NGOs that work for these issues. Graduates from law schools are also offered opportunity to work with international organizations (such as the United Nations) and with international war and crime tribunals. If you adopt this career path you receive job satisfaction, respect and recognition along with perks. If you want to make a difference to society then no other career option can be a better deal!
The judiciary can be a suitable option for those aspiring to take up job in the public service or the state. Through this, one can not only remain connected with the law throughout his professional life but also command the respect of the common man. An independent judicial system is the backbone of a vibrant democracy, and India is fortunate enough to have one.
Government services: Lawyers are appointed in central services
(Indian Legal Service) through UPSC. Posts covered under Indian Legal Service
are law officers, assistant advisors, deputy legal advisors and legal advisors.
State legal services appoint lawyers through SPSC exams in senior position in
State Police/Revenue/ Judicial Departments. Posts in the judiciary include
magistrate, district and sessions judge, Munsifs (sub-magistrate), public
prosecutor, solicitors, attorney general, advocate general, notary and oath
commissioner. There are also legal secretaries appointed in legislative
assemblies, law inspectors, and legal officers in banks, judicial members of
income tax, sales tax, excise departments, government advocates, and legal staff
in a company’s office. Examinations for these posts are conducted regularly and
recruitment for such vacancies is advertised regularly in the mass media.
Magistrate and Sub-Magistrate: A candidate who qualifies for the Law Service Commission or State Public Service Commission is eligible for appointment as Magistrate and Sub-Magistrate (Munsifs). While Magistrates preside over criminal courts, a Munsif delivers judgment on civil cases. Promotion may take a person higher up to the post of sub-Judge, District and Sessions Courts Judge and further (depending upon seniority and vacancy) to appointments in the High Court and the Supreme Court.
Public Defender: At the state, federal and local level, public defenders serve as court appointed lawyers for those who cannot afford a lawyer.
Public Prosecutor: As government pleader/counsel these represent the state in session courts and advise district officers in all legal matters as and when required.
Solicitors: Advise the government on legal matters and submit statement of important cases to the Attorney-General of India, for his opinion or appearance in the Supreme Court as necessary. He is assisted in this by the Solicitor General.
Attorney General: The Attorney General is appointed by the President and advises the government on such legal matters as may be assigned to him by the President. He has the right of audience in all courts of India and participates in the proceedings of Parliament without the right to vote.
Advocate General: Similar to the post of Attorney General at the Center, each state has an Advocate General appointed by State Governors. This office generally prosecutes cases that have statewide significance and work with the local District Attorney’s office in the prosecution of cases. One of the best ways for young lawyers to gain trial experience quickly after graduation is to work at a State Attorney’s office.
The Notary, Oath Commissioner: A Notary is a legal practitioner of at least ten years service in the profession. He is appointed on application by the central or state government to draw, verify, authenticate, certify and attest the execution of any deed by virtue of his office. Oath Commissioner is another established authority similar to the Notary.
District Attorney: Assistant State Attorneys (also called District Attorneys) are primarily responsible for criminal matters and prosecution. The District Attorney is usually an elected official. Depending upon the size of the District Attorney’s office, they may have multiple units that focus upon different types of crime such as domestic violence, homicide, appellate work or sex crimes. If you work with a smaller District Attorney’s office, you may have the opportunity of handling diverse cases.
Legal Advisors: Public sector undertakings and state\central government organizations also employ lawyers as advisors.