Law as a profession : Article in the Without Reserve

Article in the current issue of Without Reserve Career Opportunities in the Legal Profession By Jayanti Ghose Education and Career Consultant Most people believe that lawyers work in law firms or are self-employed or work with a senior lawyer in private practice. Some might ask whether a lawyer is a criminal layer or a divorce lawyer or a civil lawyer. Beyond that people are not really aware that legal professionals can hold a variety of jobs in diverse workplaces and industries. There are many opportunities for lawyers and there are different kinds of lawyers. There are jobs for lawyers in the legal departments of all kinds of businesses and industries, both private and public, including insurance companies, banks, security companies, forensic services, investigation services, media companies, regulatory bodies and so on. The government is a major employer of lawyers as are the defence services. Why choose a career in law? People choose to pursue a career in law for a variety of reasons: ■ To influence and persuade people ■ Apply rules and regulations ■ To protect people ■ For pursuing social justice ■ Solving problems ■ Fighting for people wrongly accused / convicted ■ To make a difference Skills required ■ Commercial awareness which includes knowledge of current local, national, and global business developments to appreciate the social, political and economic issues impacting a client’s financials. ■ Attention to detail as accuracy is critical in a legal career ■ Communication skills- oral and written skills along with strong listening skills- the willingness to listen, to be persuasive, negotiating skills and ability to explain complex information to a client or in court. ■ Teamwork- the ability to deal with people from all levels of the legal hierarchy. ■ Organising skills are vital for a career in law. One has to manage case files, meetings with clients, be able to prioritise while remaining focused. ■ Research and information analysis are vital for lawyers. One must have the ability to read large volume of information, absorb it, analyse the material, and identify the relevant aspects out of all the information. ■ Problem solving skills- lawyers must be creative problem solvers as the easiest or the most obvious way is not always the best course of action to get a positive outcome for a client. ■ Ability to work under pressure, to take the initiative, to be independent, resilient and self-confident are other useful skills. ■ A healthy dose of scepticism is useful for lawyers so they must take time to verify information about which they are not certain or confident. ■ Perseverance and enthusiasm for lifelong learning is a must-have for success in law. In our tech-enabled world, lawyers must also be aware and familiar with the specialised software or software tools in the sphere of document management, project management, database management, billing etc. to manage their work effectively Legal education options The most direct entry into a career in law is through the Five-Year Integrated Law degree programme- BA LLB (Hons)/ BBA LLB (Hons) and equivalent course, after 10+2 in any discipline at various national and state level law universities and the various law colleges under different universities. Admission is based on an entrance test. Prominently, CLAT* (Common Law Admission Test) conducted by the Consortium of National Law Universities (https:// which includes more than 20 law universities in the country. Some of the other universities /deemed to be universities may also accept the CLAT scores to shortlist applicants to their five-year integrated law degree programme. In addition, a few law universities also conduct their own entrance tests and some states have state level common entrance tests for law admission. Notifications of the law entrance tests may appear from September onwards and the test may be scheduled between December and May. This means that students in class 12th would have to be on the lookout for the admission notification while in the first semester of class 12 for admission to the course commencing in June-July the following year. The other route for legal training is through a 3-year LLB degree course open to graduates of different disciplines in a limited number of universities in the country, including Delhi University, Mumbai University, Pune University, Jindal Global University, etc. Admission to these universities is either based on a university entrance examination or a state level common entrance test or LSAT-India While the shortlisting of suitable candidates for admission to the five-year integrated law degree course after class 12, or the three- year law degree course after graduation, may be based on performance in an entrance examination, the final selection would take into account prior academic record of the student, extra-curricular activities and achievements, as well. Specialised areas of law Corporate law, contract law, bankruptcy law, family law, immigration law, criminal law, estate law, civil law, constitutional law, labour law, environmental law, entertainment and media law, healthcare, insolvency, intellectual property rights law are among the fields of specialised practice in law. Right after a five-year or a 3-year law degree, a law graduate may be hired to work in any area of law based on the employers’ requirements. Based on the area of their legal work experience, they gather specialised experience and knowledge to continue their career in the same field. Taking up a masters/ doctoral degree would be advisable for law graduates who wish to pursue a career in teaching, advising and consulting in a specialised area of law. Employment prospects The judicial services examinations in every state recruit fresh law graduate at junior levels in the State Judiciary, while lawyers with three or more years of experience may apply for the senior level of the State Judiciary. Lawyers/ Advocates with at least ten or more years of experience may be shortlisted for openings as judges of the High Court, while some may be promoted through the state judicial service, especially those who joined at an early age. The defence services recruit law graduates into the Judge Advocate General cadre through their own selection process as indicated in their recruitment notification. Engineers and scientists may also work in the legal field in the areas of intellectual property rights, while law graduates with a technical/ scientific education work as patent lawyers. Regulatory authorities such as RBI, SEBI, PFRDA, TRAI, etc. also employ lawyers. Major law firms hire directly from the campuses of prominent national and state level law universities and the legal faculty of the prominent and reputed universities in the country. These lawyers are placed in various departments of a law firm such as litigation, mergers and acquisitions, property, finance, labour, family law, environmental law, etc. Teaching law is an important opportunity for a legal professional, not just at a law college/ university, but in different colleges and universities and departments where law courses are part of the curriculum of business, commerce, etc. Most consulting firms also recruit lawyers as do NGOs, and social welfare organisations. Prospects Studying to be a lawyer requires hard work, long hours, and continuous learning to stay updated on the new laws, policies, changes and trends in the legal environment. Law is an interesting discipline which has universal application as law governs a large part of our lives. Law is never boring and no two cases are the same. Each case throws up problems and challenges, and law is intellectually challenging and constantly stimulates the mind. There are rarely any ready or easy, clear-cut solutions and each case requires careful consideration and different perspectives. Thinking out of the box is vital. With the rapid growth of AI-powered legal software tools advancing upon us, the challenge for law firm managers, practitioners and partners is to determine what best suits their needs. Knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) is a good opportunity for those with legal training and is known as LPO or legal process outsourcing. Indian LPOs usually offer services in the areas of contract management, document review, legal research, deposition summaries, litigation documents, patent renewals, patent analytics, IP support services, data verification, IP records, patent research, trademark renewals, trademark watching, digital content watching, trademark search, etc. A few of them such as legal transcription, legal coding and indexing, etc. are manpower intensive work while patent and general legal research services are high value services. A law graduate may choose not to take up a job directly in the legal profession, but use the degree in social and business environments, management, advisory, sales, marketing, HR, recruitment, writing, journalism, media and coaching, based on one’s aspirations, and circumstances. Bright and confident people with strong communicative skills who are not lawyers, but may be pharmacists, scientists, engineers, doctors, accountants, as also any graduate / postgraduate can look for work in law firms in specialised and administrative roles. A lawyer’s work is challenging and the higher your responsibilities, the longer are the hours you work and consequently your earnings. Specialised and diverse work experiences, enthusiasm, resilience, perseverance, energy and continued learning are the keys to success and advancement in the legal profession. *My grandson (son of Reshmy Warrier) secured rank 213 in CLAT 2022 and is waiting for college allotment.-M G Warrier


Legalo Mumbai said…
Nice to read your post Sir. Thank you for the guidance in reserve legal careers.

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