Career Options in Law
Gone are the days when engineering and medicine were considered to be the right career choices and any other field was considered as “an escape from the rat race”. Over the years, the humanities stream has caught up, slowly evolving into the “it” thing. Among the varied subjects that humanities exposes one to, law is one such area that has piqued your interest and you are solidly considering opting for it be your lifelong companion. At the outset, I would like to mention that law as a career choice is vibrant and is very seldom accused of being unexciting.
The diversity of career options in the field of law is bound to be comforting; however, a law school aspirant might be overwhelmed with making a decision to choose something particular. Rest assured that no one, at the time of admission in their dream law school, is 100% sure about what they would be inclined to pursue as their career at the end of five years. There is no urgency to make up your mind about the type of lawyer you wish to become and law schools do a good job of exposing you to different legal subjects through the course of your academic curriculum. However, it is always important to gauge and understand the possibilities that a legal career entails. We shall briefly glimpse on what each career option has to offer and the steps you could take, during your law school years, to garner your interest in the like.
The one true old school classic. Litigation has always been a career option in law that has been looked upon with high regard. The thrill in litigation is in the very fact that you get to see the results of what you’ve sown during the preparation of the documents and while arguing in the courtroom, on first-hand basis. Litigation is broadly divided into civil litigation (conflicts between people or businesses with the claim being monetary in nature) and criminal litigation (prosecution of individuals by the government for having violated the laws of the land by commission of a crime).
The road down this career option is rickety at first but as the years roll by and you’ve toughed it out, it transforms into a decision that is completely rewarding and satisfying, to say the least. The best way to understand whether litigation has the potential to be your forte would be to intern under a senior advocate in either the High Court in your preferred city or at the Supreme Court in Delhi and learn the ropes of drafting legal documents and presentation of legal arguments before the court. Another way to expose yourself to the courtroom action would be to pursue a judicial clerkship that would require you to assist a sitting judge of the High Court or the Supreme Court. It is a research-based internship but is also a wonderful practical experience because you get to witness the interactions between the bar and the bench at proximity.
A booming career prospect and the preferred choice of most law school graduates. On a day-to-day basis, the corporate sector faces innumerable legal issues and challenges that are tackled by an efficient team of legal associates, who are well-versed with contractual law, mergers and acquisitions, compliance law, labour law disputes and other trade-related matters. Apart from representing their companies and advising their corporate clients whilst taking into consideration their welfare, corporate lawyers must always ensure that the commercial transactions they enter into are legally safeguarded.
If you are interested in pursuing a career related to corporate law, you have a plethora of entities that you could possibly represent. Law firms such as Khaitan & Co., Luthra & Luthra, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, Trilegal and AZB & Partners are a few of the top-tier law firms in the country. Working under any of these firms would entail drafting of agreements related to mergers & acquisitions or providing legal advice on matters related to corporate law.
You could prefer working as an in-house counsel at a particular company or a bank where your only concern would be that very company, for whom you would draft agreements related to transactions and acquisitions. Many multi-national companies employ in-house counsels and this exposes you to legal compliances followed by other countries as well.
Furthermore, corporate lawyers are provided opportunities to work for the regulatory bodies in India where they would be giving legal advice on issues related to surveillance, IPO irregularities, exchange, competition law and any other discrepancies that might escalate into a scam. Examples of regulatory bodies in India are Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), University Grants Commission (UGC), Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Competition Commission of India (CCI), Bar Council of India, etc.
Judicial and Civil Services
In the judicial system, a judge occupies the foremost honourable position and is vested with the guardianship of the people’s fundamental rights. To become a Civil Judge or Judicial Magistrate, you will have to appear for the Judicial Service Examination for various states. There is also an option of appearing for the Higher Judicial Services and upon clearing it, you will be posted as an Additional District Judge. However, the eligibility for the examination is a minimum experience of seven years as a practicing advocate before a high court.
Since time immemorial, civil services has remained one of the most prestigious career prospects in the country. The system is considered as the backbone of the administration that runs the country and who better to administer the affairs of the nation that those who are well-acquainted with the law of the land? To join the services, you must qualify the Civil Services Examination that is conducted by Union Public Services Commission (UPSC). The law graduates have an edge over other aspirants because most of the questions are based on administrative law and constitutional law.
At the end of the five years, you are bound to have a few favourites amongst the overabundant courses that you are tested on during your law school stint. Your passion for such a subject can be well-channelled when you decide to delve into further research or disseminate your legal know-how by choosing to teach at one of the prestigious law universities in the country. A few of the law schools offer “Teaching Assistantship” to their students in the final year and if you find yourself taking pleasure in teaching the young minds in the hallowed portals of your law schools, then you should consider pursuing it in the future as your vocation.
Apart from teaching, you can also venture into the field of research and policy, which promises to be a budding career path. The Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, Centre for Law and Policy Research, Centre for Public Policy Research and the Centre for Internet & Society are a few examples of the legal research institutes in India. You can also intern at these institutes during the course of your law school and gain experience in researching on myriad legal issues.
After graduating from the top law schools of the country, you might consider pursuing a Masters’ degree from abroad. To obtain the same, your performance during law school matters tremendously and the entire admission process is quite challenging. In order to practice abroad, you will have to obtain the degree required by the jurisdiction in which you wish to practice law (such as a Juris Doctor (JD)). There are other graduate-level law degrees such as PhD in Law, Doctor of Juridical Science or Doctor of Laws that focus majorly on academic research.
Your law school years are a crucial time and at times, they will test you beyond your comfort zone. However, the good news is that gaining admission in one of the top law schools of India spoils you for choice. What you make out of the time during your law school journey depends completely on you and your mantra should ideally be – “In it, to win it!”