Law and Career Choose Your Right Fit

Dr. Nachiketa Mittal Legal Education Expert Consultant & Law Teacher

Law is one of the most rewarding career options. It has traditionally been a very noble and respectable profession. And with the passage of time, needs for lawyers in almost every walk of life has only increased manifold. We need legal consultancy in almost every major decision making of our lives involving property, financial transactions and even marital or live-in relationships of all genders. However, several law students in our country are still unaware of umpteen opportunities and promising career options which are available for a law graduate. Many of these career opportunities can be opted even without enrolling with the Bar Council by appearing for the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) conducted by the Bar Council of India (BCI), after completion of a law degree. Every law graduate has to appear for AIBE which examines candidate’s capability to practice the profession of law in India.

This exam assesses candidates’ analytical abilities and understanding basic knowledge of law. It is a basic level test. AIBE qualified candidate is awarded a “Certificate of Practice” by BCI. AIBE is conducted in almost 40 cities across the country and in around 11. It is an open book exam with multiple choice questions as the exam format. This means a law graduate can enrol as an advocate after qualifying AIBE.

This opens floodgates of opportunities for a lawyer. Foremost, is the traditional opportunity of starting a law practice in any court in India. Generally, it is advisable to start law practice from the trial court or judicial magistrate’s court at the district level or from the district and sessions court. This enables a candidate in grasping the foundation of law practice. For a lawyer to be effective and success at the High Court and the Supreme Court level, it is vital to have a deep understanding of the civil and criminal litigation at the district courts. It is these finer details of law practise that enables a High Court and Supreme Court lawyer in successfully fighting a case when it goes in appeal to the High Court or the Supreme Court. Besides, law graduate can also join a law firm which has a litigation department or a team.

Almost every law firm has a team which handles only court room litigation work. Starting law practice independently in the beginning is generally quite tough as a beginner lawyer lacks and experience and does not enjoy the confidence of the clients. So one should either join a private lawyer’s chamber as a junior associate or a law firm in the starting to get stable salary and learn the craft of litigation. In addition, many companies recruit law graduates who have cleared AIBE and have enrolled as an advocate with the Bar Council. Working as a legal executive is one of the very stable job opportunities these days. As the companies have a proper work profile for a lawyer, competitive salary structure, generally fixed job hours and other perks and benefits.

This attracts many young lawyers. These companies can be working in several areas like- telecommunications, real estate, construction, textiles, pharmaceuticals, software, etc. AIBE therefore provides extra edge to a law graduate as these companies can utilise the legal knowledge of the candidate effectively in the court once a person is AIBE qualified and eligible to practice. Most AIBE qualified candidates also appear for judicial service examination of several State judiciaries
in India.

However, it does not mean that candidates without qualifying AIBE have no career options or very limited career choices. AIBE is needed only when a law graduate wants to undertake court room advocacy. Otherwise, these days’ law graduates have wide range of exceptionally high paying job opportunities even without AIBE. One of the most promising job opportunities without AIBE is to work as a legal researcher. Legal research is traditionally seen as underpaying job. But this myth is now breaking. Many think-tanks, Non-Governmental Organisations or even research centres of Universities like National Law Universities offer quite rewarding salary to law graduate.

Many of such organisations work on policy mattes or have grant based legal research projects from Government of India or State Governments or International organisations. Another impressive job opportunity without AIBE is to work as a law teacher. But this requires an additional qualification of Master of Laws and Qualifying National Eligibility Test (NET). But joining legal academics as a law teacher is seen as an increasing trend among young law graduates these days. This is because now the pay scale as provided by the University Grants Commission (UGC) has improved considerably and is quite promising. Some of the major Public Sector Undertakings like Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL); National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC); Oil India Limited (OIL); Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC); Power Grid Corporation of India Limited and others also sometimes recruit through Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) for Post Graduate level.

This varies from Memorandum of Understanding between the PSUs and the CLAT Consortium. Besides, law graduates can appear from Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) which is one of the most competitive exams but highly rewarding socially as well as professionally. Law graduates without AIBE also join as a law clerk in the Supreme Court or the High Court. These are generally one year contractual jobs where a selected candidate assists the Judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court in legal research. The Supreme Court of India conducts a national level entrance test generally in the month of April every year. And for the High Courts the method of selection may vary. This is one of the very coveted contractual job opportunities for the recent law graduates.

Lawyers also make exceptional law makers and policy makers. Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and several others from the independent struggle to the contemporary senior lawyers who are either Member of Parliaments or Member of Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council of any political party in India clearly lay a path for every law graduate to join hands in contributing to the nation building. Law graduates are today blessed with greater job opportunities than ever before. Identifying suitable job opportunity needs every law graduate to plan in advance and seek right career guidance from their teachers or mentors. Job avenues are wider and fulfilling even without AIBE and law graduates must act wisely in choosing correct fit of job profile for themselves.