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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014
On the defensive
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, April 09, 2013
First Published: 16:56 IST(9/4/2013)
Last Updated: 17:21 IST(9/4/2013)
Crime decoded: Criminal lawyers have to ensure their clients are cleared of charges in cases or get reduced sentences

The lowdown


Criminal law is the summation of the principles which govern the behaviour of people in society. The practice of criminal law in India can be divided into two broad categories: a) trial and b) appellate. The role of a criminal lawyer at the trial stage is to put forth the case of his/her client by means of evidence and cross examination. At the appellate stage, the lawyer tests whether the applicable law has been correctly applied to the facts of the case. Today there is a dearth of quality criminal lawyers (in the country), and therefore, there is immense potential for aspiring criminal lawyers. Earnings, however, depend on the field you work in and your expertise. Representing high-profile clients for corporate and other crimes, successfully defending them or working out a reduced sentence for them is likely to get you bigger clients

Clockwork
8am: Reach office
8.30am: Check mails; draft appeals, applications etc
10am: Proceed to the courts
4pm: Leave court
4.30pm: Counsel clients
6pm: Prepare for the cases listed for the next day
10pm: Call it a day

The payoff
A criminal lawyer with five years’ experience can earn Rs. 10,000 per month. The income increases with time depending on one’s ability and dedication. At the mid-level, a person with more than five but less than 15 years experience can earn between Rs. 50,000 and Rs. 2 lakh per month. The earning potential is endless at senior level. Some senior criminal lawyers charge lakhs of rupees for a single appearance in court

Skills/TRAITS
* Quick responsiveness
* Open and flexible mind
* Authoritative leadership qualities
* Good listening and powerful oratorical skills
* Out-of-the-box thinking ability

Getting there
Pass Class 12 in any stream. Take the common law admission test (CLAT) or any other test to get into a five-year BA LLB  course. You can also do a three-year degree programme, LLB. After BA LLB or LLB you can do your masters, LLM. Then you can join a law firm/industry or start independent practice

Institutes and URLs
* University of Delhi www.du.ac.in
* National law schools/universities, multiple locations
 www.clat.ac.in
* Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi www.isical.ac.in
* Aligarh Muslim University www.amu.ac.in
* Government Law College, Mumbai www.glcmumbai.com

Pros and cons
* Handsome financial gains 
* Modest salaries and struggle at the entry level
* It takes time to establish and prosper in independent practice

The arsenal of a criminal lawyer is the ability to entice, flatter, intimidate and sometimes insult people to defend one’s clients  ---KTS Tulsi, former additional solicitor general of India, and senior advocate at Supreme Court


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