According to an estimate of the Bar Council, around 1,200 to 1,500 lawyers enroll every year. It is consider that this is another male dominated field that has been stormed by women, although it is true that not many practice it. Many women prefer to join legal firms or corporate houses as legal officers, rather than take up practice. However, the scenario is noticeably changing and more and more women are now proudly occupying seats and proving their worth in the courts.
Eligibility & Training
Aspirant can either pursue a three-year law course after graduation in any discipline or a five-year course BA LLB (Hons) after twelfth standard examinations. Generally, all universities offer the three-year course LLB course for graduates.
Generally, eligibility is on the basis of marks scored at the graduation examinations. However, there are some universities that conduct entrance tests too.
The five-year course usually covers practical training too. This includes court attendance, hands on training at legal aid centers and research projects. To practice, it is mandatory to put in a year’s internship. This may be done during the course of the final year.
Nature of work
Equipped with a law degree and having completed the articleship, a person can become either an advocate or a solicitor.
An advocate pleads in court and is actively involved in litigation. He decides what legislation and what precedents are relevant in a particular case.
A solicitor offers legal advice to clients on a wide range of subjects, from personal to business matters. In the event of a case going to court, the solicitor briefs and advises the advocate who takes up the case on behalf of the client.
If one decides to become an advocate, he begins as a junior assistant to an advocate, performing routine jobs like filing, researching, securing adjournments and attending court with the senior. He gradually graduates to working on briefs and drafting plaints.
After several years of drafting experience, he begins to participate actively in court. In the case of the option to become a solicitor, one may join as a junior in a solicitor’s firm during the articleship, or while doing the law course.
Here too, the junior job begins at routine runs like studying law cases, looking up authorities from time to time and filing suits and notices. The junior may gain valuable experience in a wide range of matters, from labour laws and industrial disputes to taxation, under the guidance of his seniors.
Here too, after several years of experience, he may raise to the level of a senior and may eventually be invited to join as one of the partners of the firm.
Short Term Specialized Course in Law
For specialization, Universities offer below Post Graduate Diploma courses in –
- 5 year Law Courses for School Leavers
- Post Graduate Diploma and Degree Courses in Criminology / Forensic Sciences
- International Law
- Labour Laws
Fields of Specialization
There are several fields in which a lawyer may specialize,some are:
- Civil Law that deals with concerns of private rights of individuals, handling damage suits, breach of contract suits, drawing deeds, wills, mortgages, acting as trustee or guardian, etc.
- Criminal Law where one deals with offences against society or state. This is probably the most exciting branch of law. Here the job involves interviewing clients and interrogating witnesses, correlating findings, conducting trials, preparing a case for defense, examining, cross examining in court and so on.
- International Law specializes on treaties, customs and traditions observed by nations in their relations with one another.
- Corporation Law deals with advising corporations on their legal rights, obligations, privileges; studying statutes, constitutions and ordinances; and, helping the corporations to make the all-important decision of whether to go in for a suit at all.
- Tax Law has a tuned in focus on income tax, estate tax, real tax, franchises, problems of inheritance, etc.
- Patent Law focuses on securing patents for inventors from the patent’s office. Here the lawyer specializes in prosecuting or defending patent infringement and preparing detailed specifications of the patent and so on.
- Labour Law deals with workers, their associations, working conditions, workers’ rights and duties, etc. Frequently, a lawyer specializing in labour law is called upon to sort out issues between management and employees in firms.
- Real Estate Law covers conveyance of property, search records and deeds to establish titles of property; acting as trustee for property; and, drawing up legal documents for deeds and mortgages.
Generally, law firms employ fresh graduates as apprentices or assistants. During the final year of the course, a candidate takes up apprenticeship. After two years of articleship, the apprentice appears for an examination of articled clerk conducted by the Law Society.
Plunging into private practice immediately after graduation is practically impossible, unless there is a ready-made family firm. It generally takes several years under an advocate or solicitor before a person is ready to branch off into his own practice.
There are plenty of opportunities in private industry. There is also the possibility of becoming legal consultants (part time or full time) for companies. Opportunities are aplenty in government service.
A candidate who qualifies in the Law Service Commission or State Public Service Commission is eligible for appointment as munsif. Promotion may take a person higher up to sub-judge, District and Sessions Courts Judge and further (depending upon seniority and vacancy) to appointments in High Courts and the Supreme Court. Public sector undertakings and state and central government organisations also employ lawyers. Opportunities exist in the defense services too.