Now is the time for entrance exams and admission for students who have completed class 12. Many might wonder which course to take. Here, lawyer Chacko Simon explains everything about the profession and the qualification path.
An excerpt from an interview.
Role of a lawyer
The primary role of a lawyer is to render justice to his client. So whether you are a lawyer drafting an agreement for your client, giving legal advice to your client, or appearing in court and pleading on behalf of your client, the goal remains the same: to obtain justice for your client. .
Now why is this important? There is a statement carved into some of the federal courthouse buildings in the United States of America and right outside the Attorney General’s office in Washington, DC. And he says, “America wins every time justice is served for one of its citizens.” Now, nothing like that is etched in our courthouses here in India. However, this principle is perfectly applicable to India and all other nations of the world. Justice is the cornerstone on which a civilized society is built and lawyers strive to achieve justice.
To give an example of the crucial importance of the role of a lawyer, take the case of our country itself. The greatest movement this country has ever seen is the struggle for freedom. And the fight for freedom has been led by advocates such as Mahatma Gandhi, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai and Jawaharlal Nehru – to name a few. And after India’s independence, it was Dr. BR Ambedkar, a lawyer, who played the most instrumental role in the drafting of our Constitution. Our country’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was a lawyer. Our country’s first deputy prime minister, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, was also a lawyer. And our country’s first president, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, was also a lawyer. Thus, one can never overstate the importance of the role of lawyers in society.
When should a student start preparing for class?
People often joke that the ones who end up taking up law are the ones who couldn’t take any of the other courses. Probably, it could have been possible at the time. But now, if you decide to go into law only at the last minute, it may be extremely difficult for you to get into law school, let alone a good one. Because nowadays the entrance exams to get into law schools have become much more competitive than before.
For example, around 60,000 students take the Common Law Admissions Test (CLAT), which is the entrance exam for admission to around 3,000 places in national law universities.
The entrance examination syllabus for entering law schools mainly includes English, General Knowledge, Current Affairs, Legal Reasoning, Logical Reasoning, and Basic Mathematics.
The ideal time to start preparing for these exams would be when you are in 11th grade. That said, some students pass these exams even after starting the preparations when they are in 12th grade or even after finishing 12th grade.
Best Colleges and Courses
If you want to study law in India, you can either take a five-year course after your 12th year of school or take a three-year law course after getting your bachelor’s degree. The most reputable law institutions in India are the National Law Universities. Currently, there are 23 National Law Universities in the country. The one in Kerala is in Ernakulam and is called the National University for Advanced Legal Studies. There are many other public and private colleges which are also good and renowned including Symbiosis Law School, Pune; Faculty of Law, Christ University, Bangalore; St Joseph’s College of Law, Bangalore; and Jindal Global Law School, Haryana.
What matters in the end
The only thing you need to bear in mind about this is the fact that the laws – for example, whether it is the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Evidence Act or the Indian Contracts Act , which you learn in all these colleges, are the same. And therefore, your success as a lawyer will mainly depend on your ability to learn the law and interpret the law.
Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that law is one of those professions where what you’re taught in college is just the tip of the iceberg of what you need to do a once you start practicing. And therefore, the fact that you were the best of your lot in college might give you an edge over others, but it is not a guarantee that you will succeed in this profession. Similarly, poor or below-average academic performance in college does not prevent you from succeeding in this profession.
Many career opportunities await you once you graduate in law. Some of the most popular options are writing the bar exam and registering with the Bar Council and practicing as a lawyer in court, or joining a law firm or the in-house legal team of a company or a bank, or do a master’s degree and go into teaching, or take the UPSC civil service exams, or take the judicial service exams and be a magistrate.
Legal journalism, i.e. reporting on legal issues in the media or on legal portals, is also becoming a very popular option these days. There are also wonderful career opportunities for law graduates in the armed forces. Thus, some law graduates join the army, navy or air force after studying law. Finally, some legislators hire law graduates to help them write and critically evaluate laws passed by Parliament and state legislatures.
Possibility of higher education
To practice as a lawyer in India or to undertake any of the career options mentioned above, all you need is a bachelor’s degree in law. However, if someone wants to get into teaching as a career option, they will need to do a Masters in Law and this is called an LLM. Some students pursue their LLM at universities abroad and are recruited by foreign law firms.
The salary range for a beginner
The income range for a beginner in law is very subjective and it varies depending on the career option one has chosen and the office in which he joined. Some newbies get into litigation and unfortunately end up being paid less than Rs 5,000 per month. And some newbies are recruited by top law firms and end up being paid up to around Rs 18 lakhs per year.
That said, let me not discourage those who want to make litigation their career option. Your first few days could indeed be difficult. But once you get established, your income will grow exponentially, and when you look back, you’ll realize that all the struggle you went through was worth it.