Exploring law as a career option

The lowdown
Of late, law has become a promising career option. To start early, many aspirants opt for the five-year BALLB course right after Class 12. In addition to the traditional branches such as civil, criminal, corporate, taxation, labour and election law, there are new areas, including space, cyber, intellectual property, and international laws, that a person can specialise in. You could specialise in a particular area depending on your “interest and inclination,” says Pravin H Parekh, president, Supreme Court Bar Association. A number of courses are now available in fields like human rights, intellectual property rights, and cyber law. Ideally, a fresh lawyer should do litigation for five to 10 years, spending two to three years in a trial court to learn cross-examination, pleadings, drafting etc, says Parikh. “The scope is very good. Today’s law students are better equipped than those about 10-15 years ago. Students take law as their first choice now than earlier when it used to be the last resort,” says Parekh

Clockwork
A typical work day of a lawyer is as follows:
10am: Reach office. Check mails. Start work
10.30am onwards: Meetings with clients, discussions
11.30am: Hearings at court and discussions
3pm: Leave court premises for office
5pm: Counsel clients, draft appeals, prepare documents etc
10 pm: Head home
 
The payoff
A fresh independent lawyer earns “zero to Rs. 15,000” a month in litigation. While firms have fewer vacancies, “good” ones noticed in courts get picked by seniors, says Pravin H Parekh, president, Supreme Court Bar Association. Further on, a lawyer’s income depends on factors such as reputation, expertise and kinds of cases handled. There are advocates who are said to charge Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 1 crore for one court appearance  
    
Skills/TRAITS
* Good communication skills
* Quick responsiveness; excellent memory
* Open, flexible mind 
* Good authoritative leadership qualities
* Logical reasoning
* Good listening and powerful oratorical skills
* Out-of-the-box thinking ability
* Knowledge of all statutes, rules and regulations, and notifications
* Patience - for some cases can drag on endlessly

Getting there
Go for either a three-year LLB programme after graduation in any discipline, or for a five-year integrated BA LLB programme after passing Class 12. Admission to these courses is usually through a written competition, such as the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT). You could specialise in a particular area depending on your “interest and inclination,” says Parekh. A number of courses are now available in fields like human rights, intellectual property rights, and cyber law. Ideally, a fresh lawyer should do litigation for five to 10 years, including two-three in a trial court to learn cross-examination, pleadings, drafting etc, says Parekh. “No lawyer can become a good corporate lawyer or even a good lawyer without drilling in litigation though it initially pays less,” he says. "Corporate lawyers get good pay in the beginning — Rs. 50,000, Rs. 1lakh — but it remains at that level unless you become a partner in a firm or start one.” According to Parekh, the foundation of a good lawyer is laid in a trial court    

Institutes and URLs
* National Law School of India University, Bangalore
    www.nls.ac.in
* NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad
     http://www.nalsar.ac.in
* University of Delhi
     www.du.ac.in
* Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
    www.bhu.ac.in
* Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh
    www.amu.ac.in
* Panjab University, Chandigarh
    www.puchd.ac.in
* Government Law College, Mumbai
    www.glc.edu

Pros and cons
* It’s an exciting and challenging profession
* It can be satisfying to know that you have the ability to save an innocent person from a life in prison or from execution 
* With enough experience, you can have handsome financial gains and social and professional recognition
* Modest salaries and struggle at the entry level 
* It takes time to establish yourself and prosper in independent practice

No lawyer can become a good corporate lawyer or even a good lawyer without drilling in litigation though it initially pays less Pravin H Parekh, president, Supreme Court Bar Association, New Delhi 

 

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