Law As A Career

Law As A Career

With the rapid growth of trade and industry in the era of globalised liberalisation, increasing use of internet, e-commerce and convergence of technologies in the near future, new vistas of opportunities in all professional fields, including law have been heralded.

Legal profession is no more a mere “court affair”. Today the legal profession is one of the growing and lucrative professions all over the world. Demand for bright law graduates continues to be on the rise. Career in law offers exciting opportunities as an Advocate, Solicitor, Consultant, Academician, Researcher, Author, Social Worker, Court Reporter, Legal Editor, Political and Business Correspondent or Analyst in print, audio-visual and cyber media, Legal or Personnel Manager/Executive in Multinational Companies or Government Service, Banker, Arbitrator, Judge, Advocate-General department in Defence Forces, Police Service, Criminologist, Politics, LPO (Legal Process Outsourcing) apart from much coveted and the prestigious Judiciary.

However, in a highly competitive job market or professional turf, the truth is that one has to explore a bit before taking the plunge, even in the field of law. Although, legal profession is both adventurous as well as exciting, there is absolutely no place for complacency and resting on one’s laurels. Mantra for survival in the profession is to keep in pace with latest developments to ensure that one stay’s ahead of other contemporaries.

Law is an ongoing and continuing process, an orderly arrangement which morphoses with time. The fast evolving concept of law affects the daily lives of people, services and business, thereby encompassing all facets of human life in a civilised State. All day-to-day matters, howsoever, complicated or complex, may have to be addressed, which necessitate a legal approach, understanding of legal procedures and interpretation of rules of law. Each State frames certain laws, rules and regulations for its citizens to stop the detrimental effect of actions of one or more individuals, in the interest of their fellow beings. Under the law of the land, one can seek legal remedies when his legitimate interests and rights are being harmed either by an individual or by the State authorities. The parties to the dispute engage professionals to defend their interest by interpreting the legal provisions in their interest. This breed of professionals who analyse and interpret law properly are termed as lawyers, pleaders, attorneys and advocates. A good lawyer not only keeps himself abreast with changes in the law but also with the applications and implications of those changes.

Entry into Legal Profession

There are more than 900 Law Colleges in India but it is of utmost importance that one steps into a reputed Law School for proper grooming. In India there are two types of LL.B. – 3 years course and 5 years course. One can join the 3 years LL.B. course after graduation whereas it is 5 years after 12th std.

In the recent past 5 years LL.B. degree has gained a lot of importance because more serious students are entering the legal education stream straight after school.

Most of the Law Colleges conduct their own Entrance Examination during May and June every year. Since 2008 Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) has been introduced wherein a single exam is held for most of the National Law Schools.

The syllabus for entrance exams is similar but the pattern differs from University to University. Most of the Law School Entrance Exams are conducted at different centers across the country so that it becomes easier for an aspirant to appear.

Legal Profession in India

Broadly, the legal profession consists of lawyers and Judges who administer, interpret and apply law. Lawyers in private practice, on either civil side or criminal side or both, advise clients on their legal rights and legal issues affecting their personal and professional interests and also represent them in the courts of law. Some also appear on behalf of the Government, public bodies, local authorities, etc. Lawyers are also retained as Legal Advisors by corporate houses to aid, advise and represent their legal interest in the courts of law. Usually, lawyers set up their practice at different courts/tribunals as per the work demand and location.

Judicial Members of Tribunals are appointed from the legal profession.

Magistrate presides over criminal court, decides cases and delivers judgment on judicial matters filed in or transferred to his court. They are appointed on the basis of State Judicial Service exam conducted by High Courts.

Delivers judgment on civil cases of Sub-division filed in his court. He studies preliminary arguments and examines documents in support of complaint. He issues notices to other parties for filing written statement supported by affidavits. He frames issues, records evidence and admits relevant documents as exhibits.

Government Pleader/Government Counsel represents State in Sessions Courts and lends advice to officers in districts in all legal matters when called for. He studies records of cases sent to Sessions Courts by Trial Magistrate and ensures against omissions and commissions and irregularities which might vitiate proceedings in Court.

Attorney General for India is appointed by the President. He holds office during the pleasure of the President. He must be qualified to be appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court. His duties include advising the Government of India on such legal matters as may be assigned to him by the President. He has the right of audience in all courts of India . He can also participate in the proceedings of Parliament without the right to vote. Attorney General is assisted by a Solicitor General and Additional Solicitor Generals, Government Standing Counsels or Government Panel advocates in the proper performance of his duties.

Generally advises the Government on legal matters and submits statement of important cases to Attorney General of India for his opinion or appearance in the Supreme Court as and when necessary.

Similar to the post of Attorney General at Centre, each State has an Advocate General appointed by respective State Governors. He performs the same duties in the State which his senior counterpart performs at the Centre.

A Notary is a legal practitioner of at least ten-years’ standing in the profession. He is appointed by Central/State Government to draw, verify, authenticate, certify and attest the execution of any deed by virtue of his office. Similar to the Notary, there is another established authority called the ‘Oath Commissioner’. An Oath Commissioner is also authorised to attest various kinds of documents by charging some fee duly permitted by law.

Those who possess law degree and have specialised in Labour Laws, in one way or the other, are eligible for these posts.

Some of the positions available for law graduates in Government of India are:

(a) Law Secretary
(b) Joint Secretary and Legal Advisor
(c) Additional Legal Advisor
(d) Assistant Legal Advisor
(e) Deputy Legal Advisor
(f) Assistant (Legal)
(g) Central Government Advocates in States.

There are other positions existing in the judicial system of Central and State judiciary which are enumerated as follows:—

(a) Legal Secretaries in the Legislative Assemblies.
(b) Legal Assistants in Railways.
(c) Officers in the Registrar of Companies.
(d) Legal Assistants/Law Officers and Legal Advisors in Banking Institutions.
(e) Law Inspectors.
(f) Assistant Government Advocates.
(g) Judicial Members of Income-tax, Sales Tax and Excise Departments.
(h) Registrars, Dy. Registrars, etc. in High Courts.

There are a large number of big business houses and commercial organisations which employ legal professionals to defend their business interests. Similarly, Corporate/Public Sector organisations such as Life Insurance Corporation, General Insurance Corporation, Unit Trust of India and such other organisations also engage Legal Advisors, Law Officers and Legal Assistants to handle their respective matters bearing legal implications. The Legal Advisors aid and advise their employers on matters of legal importance. Law Officers frame law suits with active assistance from Legal Assistants and follow them in the court of law.

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Employment Opportunities

The prospects in any of the posts listed above will depend on hard work and sincerity. There is more satisfaction in any one of the jobs as many of them can lead to advancement to a more senior professional status.

The job market being highly competitive today, it is desirable to possess additional relevant qualifications. In order to get an edge over others and more gainful employment, there are certain important professional courses useful for law graduates. Few prominent professional courses are as follows:—

(a) Business Management/Administration.
(b) Company Secretaryship.
(c) Chartered Accountancy.
(d) Diploma in Intellectual Property.
(e) Diploma in Cyber Laws.
(f) Diploma in International Law.
(g) Diploma in Labour Law and Practice.
(h) Diploma in Corporate Laws.
(i) Diploma in Human Rights.
(j) Diploma in Environmental Law.
(k) Diploma in Arbitration Law.

Employment opportunities for legal professionals are available in all the Central and State Government Departments, Lower Courts, High Courts, the Supreme Court of India, Banking Institutions, autonomous organisations and Public Enterprises, Labour Courts and Tribunals. Candidates looking for regular employment must keep a watch for the vacancies in respect of various positions in popular local dailies, Employment News and Departmental Notifications.

The expanding horizons of law can be seen most obviously in emerging corporate management where in-house lawyers are steadily making it to the top. It may also be noted that in bigger cities, law firms employ a number of lawyers at junior and senior levels who may be linked to departments specialising in a particular branch of law. A fresh entrant could start earning from Rs. 10,000 to
Rs. 50,000 per month, depending upon the reputation of the institute he/she has graduated from, personal skills and attitudes, location and other factors.

Opportunities for Self-Employment

Besides jobs available to the law graduates, self-employment opportunities are plenty in this area. One has to enrol oneself with the local State/Central Bar Council. After enrolment as an Advocate, he is in a position to practise law in any of the Courts as per rules. A lawyer may be in service or may practise law in a Court. A law graduate may be engaged by various firms of repute to look into their legal matters. He may act as counsel and may appear on their behalf in a Court of Law to defend the interests of the firm which engaged him for the purpose. A legal counsel may take up legal work with several firms, organisations and agencies at a time. He may work as Civil Lawyer, Criminal Lawyer Income Tax Lawyer, Sales Tax Lawyer, Matrimonial Lawyer, IPR Lawyer, Corporate Lawyer, Excise and Customs Lawyer, etc.

A law graduate may become an author for journals, legal commentaries, text books, etc. Lawyers may act as trustees of various trusts and thus defend the trusts against any legal complications that may arise from time to time. While working in above positions, they may engage junior lawyers in turn to create job opportunities for many more. If practicing law, it demands thorough knowledge as to how to implement a particular law to the benefit of your client. For this, one is required to read cases of importance and as many judgments and arguments as possible. So to say, a law professional has no time to relax if he has to have his presence in the leading chain of professionals. Age is no bar in this profession

Opportunities at a Glance

Choosing your Specialisation

Out of the plethora of specialisations available in the legal profession, one has to decide a particular field of practice. First consideration in this regard shall be personal liking – whether it is handling criminal or civil or corporate or family dispute cases, or a combination of 2-3 or more specialisations. Specialisation in particular area of law such as Civil, Criminal, Constitutional, Corporate, Labour, Taxation, Intellectual Property or Cyber Law, is beneficial for a legal practitioner in the long run.

There is no end to studying in law. Each day a lawyer needs to read and research new cases, new amendments in Law, new modes and techniques to be drafted for defending one’s client. After LL.B. one may take up LL.M. and further Ph.D. Higher Studies can be done in India or even abroad. All top Universities of UK and USA such as Harvard, Cambridge , Oxford , LSE, NYU etc., provide for LL.M. giving admission to Indians on the basis of their LL.B. degree from India .