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Career Options in LAW | Bell Clat

Law As Career

ROADMAP TO CAREERS IN LAW

What is the mental picture of a lawyer? More often than not, it is that of the pleader in a courtroom, in black and white. Those who do well in law school inevitably say that when they sat for their law school entrance examinations, they had a ‘picture’ in mind of what they wanted to do with their degree.

While for a lot of people it might not be possible to start off with a clear picture of their careers, it helps to explore the available options. While the first few years in law school might be spent in developing the basics, smart students start giving direction to their aspirations long before graduating, through internships and the like.

There are some law graduates who opt to set-up their own independent practice. It depends on your confidence in handling litigation independently.

✔ Litigation – both civil and criminal ✔ International Trade (WTO) Adviser / Lawyer
✔ Intellectual Property Lawyer ✔ Alternative Dispute Resolution
✔ Sports Lawyer ✔ NGOs and Thinktanks
✔ Environmental Litigation and Advocacy ✔ Legal Process Outsourcing
✔ Competition Law / Antitrust Lawyer ✔ Entrepreneur
✔ Corporate Law (law firms and companies) ✔ Tax Law Firms / Company Secretary
✔ Judiciary ✔ Legal Journalism
✔ Public Prosecutor ✔ Legal Academia
✔ Consultancy ✔ Politics

I. Litigation

To start practicing as an advocate and to make appearances in courts, it is essential that you clear the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) after graduation. Please visit this website for details: http://www.allindiabarexamination.com/

After clearing the AIBE, you can become a pleader and appear before a court. Initially, you can practice under a senior lawyer, with many years of experience. For 1 to 2 years, you will be required to assist your senior with his cases. In the process, you will get to learn the ropes of the profession. During your association with the senior, you will learn how to speak before the court, how to draft pleadings, how to conduct legal research and most importantly the procedure involved in the filing and pendency of the cases.

But maybe the single greatest benefit of exploring your options is that you will never feel disheartened if you don’t feel like you ‘fit in’ to the mould of popular career choices. There is no dearth of opportunities, and at the end of this article, you should be able to know that you will certainly ‘fit in’ somewhere. If you don’t, that’s okay too! You can create your own niche.

Civil Litigation: Dealing only with cases which do not involve criminal law, these advocates can specialize in company and commercial laws, property disputes, matrimonial disputes and so on. The purview of civil litigation is quite broad, and it is suitable for students who don’t want to practice criminal law (one can, however, do both).

Criminal Litigation: These cases involve arguing in favour of the accused in a case involving the commission of crime. The other side is represented by the Public Prosecutor (a career option elaborated below).

Intellectual Property Law: Intellectual property, meaning the ownership of ideas and original creations, is greatly in demand because it is a specialized branch of law. This field includes commonly known rights of copyright, trademark and patent. Intellectual Property law is constantly evolving as newer modes of creation are being developed (apps, mobile games, audio books, etc.). This branch of law is, hence, always in need of subject matter experts.

Sports Law: A fairly recent addition to legal services, sports law deals with the legal representation of athletes, sports teams, corporations and sponsors of sporting events. This field has great demand, because a handful people practice in this area. And with the massive expansion of sports leagues in India (like in cricket, football, badminton, kabaddi etc.) over the last few years, the demand for good sports lawyers will only increase.

Environment Litigation and Advocacy: The National Green Tribunal was instituted in 2010, for the sole purpose of providing timely judgments on cases involving aspects of violations of environmental law. With the setting up of this tribunal, environmental litigation has been streamlined, and instead of being grouped along with civil litigation, environmental issues now have their own demand for legal practitioners.

Competition Law: It is the branch of law which deals with the prevention and regulation of ‘unfair trade practices’. Unfair trade practice would include actions by companies that tend to limiting competition in the market. The most well-known example of this practice is ‘monopoly’, where only a single enterprise is supplying a particular good or service. This is unhealthy for the market, and disadvantageous to the consumers, as the monopoly may hike prices, which consumers will be bound to pay. Thus, competition law is a growing field in India and only bound to attract more lawyers in the future with high paying jobs.

II. Corporate Law (law firms and companies)

Working in a law firm is an extremely lucrative option, especially when considered from the remunerative point of view. Law firms in the country offer attractive salary packages to students fresh out of law school. Law firm work involves the drafting of contracts for client companies, analyzing the records of a company to make sure legal requirements are being complied with, preparing research briefs for clients, making sure contractual obligations of the client are fulfilled, to name a few. Moreover, firms have specialized practice areas such as Intellectual Property Law, Antitrust and Competition Law, Mergers and Acquisitions, each of which require a separate skillset.

General counsel for companies are required to advise the company on the legal position to be taken in litigation involving the company, in the form of research briefs or drafts. They may also be required to draft a template on which contracts of the company would be based. Perhaps most importantly, in-house counsels have to communicate with advocates pleading on behalf of the company, and keep track of ongoing litigation.

III. Judiciary

The journey to becoming a judge starts right from law school, where your fundamental legal knowledge and reasoning would be strengthened. After graduation, you can appear for Judicial Service Examinations conducted by states. On qualifying the Preliminary Exam, Mains Exam, and the Interview stage, you will be appointed in the lower judiciary as a judge. Civil Judge (Junior Division) and Judicial Magistrate II Class are the entry level positions in the judiciary in the civil and criminal courts, respectively. States conduct these examinations on a need basis, i.e., only when there is a vacancy in the post of a judge, the exams are conducted. States like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, all conduct judicial service examinations in their states.

IV. Public Prosecutor

A public prosecutor is a law officer of the state who conducts proceedings on behalf of the state. After the police conducts investigation into an alleged offence and files the chargesheet in court, it is the role of the prosecutor to conduct prosecution on behalf of the state. Exams for these posts are also conducted by states on a need basis. The role of a prosecutor, simply put is to advocate on behalf of the state in criminal cases.

V. International Trade (WTO) Advisor/Lawyer

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Secretariat offers two employment opportunities to lawyers. However, most of these positions require to complete a master’s degree in law.

  • Dispute Settlement Lawyers: Dispute settlement lawyers contribute to the dispute settlement process of the WTO by assisting a panel established for a dispute or the Appellate Body members considering an appeal. Their role is to deliver substantive legal advice and to conduct research on legal, technical or procedural issues in dispute settlement or appellate proceedings.
  • Trade Policy Analysts/Specialists and Legal/Economic Affairs Advisers: Trade policy analysts/specialists and legal/economic affairs officers work in various divisions of the WTO Secretariat. In addition to providing specialist advice in their respective divisions, they provide support to bodies serviced by WTO divisions (e.g. committees, working parties, negotiating groups, etc.) and contribute to trade policy review mechanisms established at the WTO. They also conduct research and analysis and deliver technical assistance and training on relevant topics.

For more information, please see: https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/vacan_e/career_e.htm

VI. Alternative Dispute Resolution

In order to avoid the long-drawn out process of litigation, litigants, primarily corporates are increasingly turning to alternative methods of resolving disputes. Not only do these methods reduce the time spent in dispute resolution, it allows companies to maintain friendly relations with the opposite party, and increases the ease of doing business.

Predominantly, arbitration, mediation and conciliation are the mechanisms of choice in India. While as lawyers, you can represent a party to an arbitration proceeding, or even function as an arbitrator (the counterpart of a judge in the arbitration proceeding), in mediation, you have to bring two parties to a dispute, to come to an amicable resolution.

Conciliation is a more informal form of alternative dispute resolution mechanism. Any party can request the other party to appoint a conciliator. One conciliator is preferred but two or three are also allowed. As a lawyer, you can operate as a conciliator.

VII. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Think-Tanks

Although this was an unusual choice for law graduates even 5 years ago, lots of law students are opting for this unconventional choice. Those who feel passionate about nation-building and want to do field studies, engage with citizens, teach underprivileged children or find themselves attached to a cause, find non- governmental organizations to be a good training ground to make a positive change.

A think tank is a research organization that performs research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, technology, and culture. If research to improve the administrative, legislative or other social impediments is your cup of tea, this might be a suitable career choice for you.

VIII. Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO)

The concept of legal process outsourcing is based on the practice of division of labour prevalent in law firms, where various time consuming and onerous processes like due diligence are delegated to paralegals, document reviewers or interns. This allows the firm to address the various legal issues that arise on a daily basis while being able to streamline productivity. Cost saving is the biggest attraction for the western firms that outsource their legal work. India’s legal services are widely considered affordable, efficient, and above all, skilled.

An associate at an LPO is required to perform various services as a back-office for law firms. A lot of students are opting for this career, and the industry has scope for growth in the future, creating jobs for law graduates.

IX. Entrepreneurship

With an increasing trend in entrepreneurship by Indian youth, law graduates are diversifying into novel fields. Lawyers would have an advantage in setting up startups, law firms, or think tanks. This is because of the need for legal compliance at the inception of a business, right from the registration of the organization, to its day-to- day functioning. Law graduates are well-versed in commercial laws, and hence, can maneuver the legal maze involved with the setting up of a business.

X. Tax Law / Company Secretary

Tax laws require subject matter expertise, and are different from civil and commercial litigation. A commerce background in school might come in handy, and so will dexterity with numbers. The Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal, Income Tax Directorate see a number of lawyers who specialize in this domain. There are also law firms which focus on tax matters.

The Institute of Company Secretaries of India conducts examinations to bestow the designation Company Secretary (CS) to a candidate qualifying for the membership of the Institute. There are three courses offered by ICSI, the Foundation, Executive and Professional Course. After +2 examinations, you can apply for the Foundation course. The executive course can be pursued after graduation, while the professional course can be pursued after clearing the executive course.

Please refer to this site for details: https://www.icsi.edu/home/

XI. Legal Journalism

Print and web media frequently require current affairs to be analysed from the legal perspective. When a bill is pending in the Parliament or State Assemblies, or in issues involving the amendment of law, or reporting on a judgment of the courts, news agencies prefer articulate law graduates. Being well-versed in the basics of law, you require less ‘skilling’ than a graduate from other discipline, which is profitable for news agencies.

XII. Legal Academia

If you have a passion to teach, you may find teaching law at universities to be a favourable proposition. Apart from the job satisfaction, teaching positions now offer attractive salary packages. However, you would need to complete your Master’s degree in Law and then clear the National Eligibility Test (NET) in order to be eligible for teaching positions.

It might be useful to focus on focusing on writing research papers, articles for journals, and other academic internships. Some colleges offer teaching internships for law school students. This can be a good training ground for your teaching career.

XIII. Politics

While politics can seem incongruous with the conventional functions of a lawyer, the most famous example of a lawyer revolutionizing politics is Mahatma Gandhi. It should not be surprising that a law degree would help in understanding the legal necessities of the country, and help with the legislative responsibilities that come with being an elected representative.

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