The ambition to enter the legal profession is usually drawn from inspiration. Most law aspirants tend to find their motivation coming either from personal heroes (family members), fictional ones (Atticus Finch, Harvey Specter, Perry Mason), or because they are drawn by the idea that advocates can truly bring equity and justice in the society. Let us discuss the opportunities for law students.
From Mahatma Gandhi to Barack Obama, the list of luminaries who have used this profession as a stepping stone to greatness runs long and wide. Gone are the days of black robes and courtrooms, lawyers have moved to swanky law firms and corporate offices.
Careers in Law
Law, for a layman, means a system of rules and guidelines, legally enforceable. But as a profession, it means lots more and encompasses various fields such as litigation, media, IP, academics, etc. Lawyers are the most sought after people by corporations and individuals, leaving a dearth of lawyers when looked up against the demand. There are many opportunities for law students.
As law incorporates diverse fields, it opens various opportunities for law students. The demand for savvy law school graduates, with the requisite skills to handle key positions at leading organizations across diverse sectors, has surged dramatically.
With a growing economy and an increasing number of foreign investors targeting the Indian market, the requirements of legal expertise will only increase, making law a very lucrative career.
Identifying the Appropriate Sector
The traditional career path is to “practice law” in the courts and tribunals. But it is essential for any fresh graduate to learn the ropes under a Senior Counsel. Litigation provides a wide range of employment options in both private and public spheres. A fresher may specialize in a particular field of law such as Taxation, Constitution, Family, etc. or choose to focus on appellate work, trial-level practice, civil litigation or criminal cases. For a newcomer having no family background in the legal field would be a daunting task to establish the practise, however this may not be a deterrent for someone who is passionate about practising law in the courts.
A fresher may work with a company/corporate entity as an in-house legal counsel, advising on legal matters related to its business. An in-house counsel plays an important role in drafting, vetting and negotiating contracts; ensuring and monitoring compliance with rules and laws; and handling legal disputes.
Private Domain: One may join Multi National Corporations, Private companies, Private Banks, etc.
Public Domain: Counsels/ legal officers are also required in Government Agencies, Public Sector Undertakings, Public and Nationalized banks, etc. These government organizations usually recruit lawyers through a written competitive exam followed by an interview.
One needs to be very watchful about the vacancies/ opportunities for law students in this sector and keep an eye on the employment news in newspapers and various other media.
These are business entities engaged in the practice of law. A noticeable trend that has emerged in the last few years is to shift from solo practice to well organized law firms, which comprise several lawyers working together as one entity. As part of a law firm, one advises clients about their legal rights and recourses as well as other legal matters. In addition to the full service law firms, there are many boutique law firms focussing on specific sector.
To secure a place in the law firm in addition the good marks law students need to undertake internships. Students can use their vacation time to join the internship programme. A CV having couple of internships not only increases the chance of getting opening in the law firm but also to get PPO (pre placement offer).
A sizeable number of law school graduates join Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that work for social causes. If you are passionate about socio-legal issues, then this is the right avenue for you. One may work with NGOs and Civil Society Organizations on issues based on environmental protection, gender concerns, caste discrimination, employment, working conditions, marginalization of various sections of the society, etc.
Law school graduates are also offered opportunities for law students to work with international organizations such as the United Nations and with international tribunals like the International Court of Justice, International Criminal Court, etc.
Judicial Services/Civil Services
The State Judicial Services Examination organized by the High Courts for their respective states, is a safe and sound option for those of you, who wish to pursue a stable government career. One may also opt for the Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission, which is the most prestigious examination in the country.
Legal Process Outsourcing
Legal Processing outsourcing (LPO) is the delegation of core legal functions like making first drafts of cases, compliance work, legal research, etc. to an external counsel. The assigned task is completed on the basis of set parameters and fixed timelines. You can become an important part of reputed MNCs by forging a career in LPO.
A career that not only allows you to pursue your intellectual interests and work on research projects, but also offers a wide degree of flexibility and autonomy and pays you to read, talk and think.
A judicial clerkship is an extremely valuable experience for students interested in either litigation or transactional work; it provides invaluable insights into the workings of the legal system. Law clerks act as legal assistants whose duties vary from court to court and judge to judge.
As professionals, both journalism and law are intertwined as they require superior research and writing skills as well as a critical knowledge of the government and the legal system. Legal journalism covers legal proceedings in courts, arbitration events, criminal matters, etc., which are disseminated to the public.
Legal Publishing: Lawyers get an opportunity to work as editors for various types of print and electronic media. It is a good option for those with a knack for writing.
Law Reporting: One can take up a career as a law reporter with TV channels and newspapers. Ranging from high profile cases to concerns related to social issues and human rights, a new path for lawyers has opened up in this field.
Honing the Skill Set
Largely, certain skills such as and inquisitiveness, attention to detail, logical reasoning, persuasiveness, sound judgment and writing ability are significant for success as a professional in law. Whilst these skills remain essential tools, in the changing landscape of the law they are no longer adequate. Today, more skills are required to practice law competently and successfully. Some of these are:
Financial Knowledge: Almost all civil cases involve financial complications in some way. Therefore, having financial knowledge becomes essential in such a scenario.
Technological Affinity: It has become one of the basic qualities of a lawyer these days. If an advocate cannot efficiently use e-mail, access the Internet, work with instant messaging, networking site and the like, it’s become impossible for him to communicate effectively. Further use of digital data base is more essential to reduce the office space and ease of access.
Time Management: To achieve and meet deadlines, whether it is in corporate or litigation practice, time management is very essential. An effective management of time will ensure better work life balance and enhanced output.
Emotional Intelligence: Clients need the empathy, perspective and personal connection of their lawyers to feel whole and satisfied where colleagues need engagement, respect and understanding to be their best. A lawyer must have this skill set to be a successful one.
Perseverance: During initial years a fresh law school graduate may face harsh working hours but one must be patient and focus on deserving instead of desiring.
Cross-Cultural Intelligence: Due to liberalised policy and open market there is a big pool of foreign clients to cater in Indian market. It’s become very essential for the lawyer to understand their culture and requirements.
When I started my profession post-law school, I was clueless about the career path and just followed what came in my way. I have worked in-house, practiced in court, and now working in a law firm. I like my present work and feel very proud of the same. My advice to the budding advocate is to follow the path in which you will have job satisfaction. You will achieve success in the field which creates interest and satisfaction in you. It is just a matter of time and one should be confident about self and be patient.
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