Lawyer, Lawyer Do u wanna be a liar? Oops I’m sorry, I mean a Lawyer – one of those hallowed persons who uphold society, mete out justice and ensure that right prevails over wrong. Well here’s how u go about it. Lawyer must first complete a Ligum Ligum Baccheleros (LLB)! For the uninitiated that’s Latin for Bachelor of Law. And ‘Ligum’ is repeated twice coz the course will teach you not one law but several (1000s actually) . And there was no plural in Latin for the word ‘law’ (!)
Alright Then Let’S Get Down To The Ligum Business
If your interest in law goes beyond watching Ally Mcbeal, then you must get yourself a law degree. There are two ways of doing an LLB: U could do a 3 year Post Graduate course or a 5 year Integrated course after the HSC itself. Although the course content and syllabus is pretty much the same in both courses, one would gain a broader perspective doing a 3 yr under-graduate degree and then following it up with a 3 year PG. In India the course is not specialized and you will learn everything from Family law to Criminal law, among other archaic Ligums. Law students are notorious for their ulterior motives; namely the easily attainable 16th academic year required in order to Go West. So a batch of 300 usually dwindles down to 60 in the 2nd year and only the serious law studs would go on to graduate. This should not however disorient or de-motivate the lawyer in you. Also remember, to be a good lawyer you must possess strong writing skills, be clear and concise in communicating and articulate your thoughts well.
Mein Sach Kahta Hoon Aur Sach Ke Siva…
Once you’ve completed the LLB, you are bestowed with the title of an Advocate and can by law appear in court. Until a few years ago, an Advocate was required to do a one year ‘Sanad’ (equivalent of an article ship) with a law firm but the Supreme Court has now done away with that practice. A distinction must be made between an Advocate and a Solicitor (only in Mumbai and Calcutta). Academically, a Solicitor is an Advocate who does a 2 year article ship with a law firm (for little or no stipend) doing documentation, drafting and other tedious work of a law firm and at the end gives a solicitors exam which makes him a Member of Incorporated Law Society. A solicitor can then give an exam in the UK, which would authorize him to practice in any of the Commonwealth nations. Normally, a Solicitor (the brainy one) would be the one who drafts the complaint, does all the paper work, while an Advocate (a good orator) would appear in court for his client.
Trial By Fire
Getting the Law degree is by far the easiest of hurdles that a lawyer will encounter in his career. The Indian law scene is peculiar, law firms being dominated by close knit families. If you’re the son/daughter of a lawyer then fikar not. But a first generation lawyer will have to bang his/her head on many a law firm’s door to land a first job. Tip: Being at the top of your class should hold you in good stead while job hunting. These days, Corporate Law offers good scope – u could join as a Legal Officer in an MNC’s in-house legal dept. Criminal Law is considered to be lucrative (not surprising) but you must be prepared to get your hands dirty and deal with shady characters. Of course you might want to be a Judge, though it is widely observed that quality lawyers don’t want to be judges and see it as a government job (esp with its diminishing status in society.) Practicing law in India is nowhere near as sophisticated or efficient as in the West. Trials go on for 10-15 yrs and are almost always settled through arbitration. Brace yourself for lots of haggling.
Every lawyer’s dream is to become partner in the firm and with hard work and consistency, in oh! about 8-10 yrs of grueling time you probably should make it. But as a fresher (advocate) after the probation period you can expect Rs 8-10,000 p.m. The work involves lots of drafting, litigations, writ-petitions and no social life. Of course once u’ve been through the trial by fire and made it to partner u could very well be raking in Rs 1 lakh a month! The prestigious National Law School (NLS) in Bangalore is your best if you’re an ambitious wannabe. NLS churns out the brightest lawyers in the country, has very tough admission criteria (thru an all-India entrance exam every year in early May) and is the only law school in India that offers placements to its students. The verdict is in, get your butt into NLS and battle it out with the best of the best. As for the rest of the students, put your nose to the grind and there’s always law thrillers a la John Grisham to look forward to.