The judiciary represents the third
wing of any democratic system; the other being the legislature and the
executive. It is the organisation that guards the rights of an individual.
Being a lawyer isn't only about talking and debating. You have to continuously read, keeping yourself up-to-date with the latest happenings the world over. Apart from legal knowledge, you should be capable of quick thinking and logical reasoning, both rounded off with a thick finishing coat of self-confidence and excellent communication skills.
If you choose law you can be a lawyer, solicitor, advocate or a legal executive. Of course you can also become a judge after years of experience.
Solicitors only prepare the paper
work while an advocate represents the case before the judge. A legal executive
works for a corporate firm and acts on behalf of the firm.
Apart from these activities, lawyers also vet contracts between parties, corporate or individual, advise on transfer of technology law, corporate mergers and acquisitions, oversee statutory adherence, legal compliance, etc. They handle matters related to property, insurance, taxation, contract, and so on.
There are various specialised areas you can work in:
Corporate lawyer: You'll specialise in matters such as violation of Company laws, Income Tax laws, Industrial dispute Act, Agency laws, Copyright Act, Consumer protection laws, Patent laws, etc.
Criminal Lawyer: You'll specialise in matters with legal implications under Indian Penal Code such as murder, rape, theft, dacoity, arson, abduction, burglary, etc., which are considered as serious offence.
Civil Lawyer: You'll specialise in cases involving civil damage, compensation for damage, breach of contract, insurance claims and other such civil matters. Preparing and drafting various types of deeds and contracts, lease agreements, sales agreements, rights transfer agreements, mortgages, wills and other related documents will be your area of work.
Property Lawyer: You'll deal with cases involving properties - mainly real estates. Property tax, disputes on real estates, transfer of property, leasing of property, rental laws and other related cases will be dealt by you.
Income Tax Lawyer: Obviously deals with taxation - wealth tax, capital gain tax, gift tax, excise duties, etc. You'll advise individuals and corporate organisations on matters relating to taxes.
International Lawyer: You'll specialise in human rights, trade and commerce, citizenship, criminal acts, etc.
Intellectual Property/Copy right/Patent lawyer: You'll deal with intellectual property laws, patent acts, copyrights and all other related matters.
Information Technology Lawyers: This is a relatively new field, which deals with cyber crimes. India is a new entrant in this field.
An ability to see through the surface into the deep waters, however murky, to get at the truth is called for. As a lawyer, you need to defend your client to the hilt, provided that you are absolutely convinced your client is innocent. Further studies, ability to handle more than one case at a time and constant reading are imperative in this field.
On the educational front there are two possibilities: you can either do a five-year course after HSC or a three-year post-graduate course which is open to graduates, immaterial of their previous academic background, provided they clear the entrance examination of the institution. However, you can even opt do your BSL degree (Bachelor of Socio-Legal Sciences) after completion of the five-year course.
Graduates in any field are also
eligible for a two-year Masters Degree course in Labour Welfare. There are even
one-year diploma options in DTL (Diploma in Taxation laws). Graduates in any
streams are eligible for this course.
Note: To be eligible to practice at the Bar you ought to have completed the three or five-year courses, plus another year of internship for which you have to register with the Honorary Secretary, Bar Council of the state where you reside.
Government Law College, Mumbai, offers both, the five-year and three-year course. Each of these courses is independent from each other and is affiliated to University of Mumbai. Each has its own admission criteria.
* In Solicitor firms specialising in Corporate Law/Criminal law/Income Tax law/Real estate law and other specialised areas of law.
* You could first practice as a junior lawyer under a senior lawyer and then become an independent corporate or criminal lawyer. 000
* In legal and secretarial department of a company
* In government judicial services like Central Government Legal Services and State Government legal services, Intelligent services like in CBI, etc.
* Defence services like Army Law cadres
* In management consultant firms
* In corporate auditing firms
* Notaries - they are public officers appointed by State Government to draft, authenticate and certify various types of deeds and documents
* Journalism - to write on legal matter and issues in various newspapers and law magazines.
* Publishing - publishing of law books and journals is quite a big industry. You could work as editorial assistants with the publishers and then with experience become Co-ordinators.
* In teaching institutions - you can get a job as faculty members or as research associates. Possible if you have a Master (LL.M) or higher degree in law.
Now let's get down to the numbers.
If a law firm employs you, you will begin with about Rs 2,500-8,000 per month.
But once you are senior and reputed, you will rake in moolah by the hour.
As a junior of a senior lawyer, you can earn about Rs 3,000-7,000 per month in the beginning.
In Government jobs and Army, your starting salary will be around Rs 8,000-10,000 a month.
Corporate attorneys in large cities generally make good money. Depending on the size of the firm and the city, typical salaries for a first-year corporate lawyer will be between Rs 14,000 to Rs. 100,000 or even more per month.
The real earning starts when you are practicing independently. There is no limit to that. A reputed lawyer earns Rs 1,000-5,000 or more per hour of work for a client - whether just advising or advocating.
A career in law has always been sought after, very respectable and paying. Growth in your career entirely depends on your performance, which builds up your reputation. Reputation will get you clients and thus build up your career. After a few years in the session courts, you can enroll yourself in the high court with recommendation from an attorney on the rolls of the High court. Practicing in High court will bring you more money and reputation.
More and more jobs are opening up in the corporate sector as well. With Multinational companies setting up base in India in large numbers the competition is high and so are the legal issues, legal implications of corporate decisions, disputes, and claims. All this adds up to the opportunities for aspiring lawyers like you.