1. What’s the starting point for a legal career in India OR How can one become a lawyer in India?
If you are still a school student (studying in class 11 or 12), you can take the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) and do a 5 year B.A LL.B course from one of the 16 National Law Universities (NLUs).
These NLUs are widely regarded as the best law colleges in India.
However, some of the newly built NLUs are struggling to match the standards set by the likes of NLSIU Bangalore, NALSAR Hyderabad and NUJS Kolkata etc.
In most of the newer NLSs the standard of the faculty is pathetic, to put it politely. Placements in some of these colleges is virtually non-existent.
If you are already a graduate, you can do a 3 year law course.
Delhi University’s Faculty of Law has the best 3 year law course in India and conducts its own entrance exams for the same.
None of the NLUs provide for a 3 year law course.
2. What role does CLAT (Common Law Admission Test) play for someone interested in making a career in law in India?
Cracking CLAT is your only access to gain an entry into the best of the National Law Schools viz. NLSIU Bangalore, NALSAR Hyderabad, NUJS Kolkata, NLU Jodhpur, NLIU Bhopal and GNLU Gandhinagar.
For an aspirant who is serious about law as a career option, taking CLAT as seriously as an Engineering aspirant would take IIT-JEE is advisable.
3. How to prepare for the Common Law Admission Test?
The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) is an objective, MCQ based, 2 hour long test. The 2015 CLAT was conducted online-only.
Here’s the structure of CLAT:
English: 40 marks
Logical Reasoning: 40 marks
Legal Aptitude (legal reasoning and legal GK): 50 marks
General Knowledge: 50 marks
Mathematics: 20 marks
CLAT is conducted only in the English language. Thus, having excellent English language skills is advisable. If you are someone, who’s English is not his/her forte, you can develop the same by doing some good old hard work.
Reading a lot is a first step in that. You can start with easier texts (say Chetan Bhagat’s books) and move to the more complex stuff (say, the editorial section of the Indian Express).
As you read, you’ll develop a natural ability to think in English and in grammatically correct ways. You don’t have to then mug tonnes of rules of grammar. Your reading comprehension and vocabulary should improve automatically
Hint: when you read, read actively. Underline the words you don’t understand and work on them with your Dictionary/Thesaurus. Make a note of the sentences you didn’t get complete and ask an elder/teacher to explain it to you.
The book ‘Law as a Career’ by Tanuj Kalia (published by LexisNexis) contains a detailed section on how to prepare for CLAT. In case you are interested you can buy the book through this Amazon link.
Suggested reads/books/strategies for CLAT:
General Knowledge: Pearson’s Concise GK manual, a daily reading of a quality newspaper (Indian Express, Hindu), a good year book.
English: Word Power Made Easy for vocabulary, Wren and Martin for grammar.
Maths: RS Agarwal’s basic book on Mathematics should do.
Legal Aptitude: Modules of a quality coaching institute.
Logical Reasoning: RS Agarwa’s book on Verbal and Non-verbal reasoning.
Also, do check CLATapult.com for postal courses and test series on CLAT.
NOTE: CLATapult is a sister concern of Lawctopus.
4. What are some other entrance tests a law aspirant interested to get into the legal career take?
Other than CLAT, LSAT India has gained popularity over the last few years. Some prominent private law colleges use LSAT India.
See the LSAT India website here.
SET (Symbiosis Entrance Test) is your gateway to the excellent Symbiosis Law School, Pune. Symbiosis, Noida and Symbiosis, Hyderabad too have started law courses recently.
See the SET website here.
AILET is the entrance test conducted by NLU, Delhi (Yes, NLU Delhi doesn’t take students on the basis of the CLAT exam).
5. What are some of the best law schools/law colleges in India?
The best National Law Universities are:
- NLSIU Bangalore
- NALSAR Hyderabad
- NUJS Kolkata
- NLU Jodhpur
- NLIU Bhopal
- NLU Delhi
- GNLU Gandhinagar
Faculty of Law, Delhi University is an excellent option for those wanting to do the 3 year law course after graduation.
GLC, Mumbai and ILS Pune have excellent reputations but are slowly slipping down the preference lists. GLC Mumbai comes with the added advantage of its location which allows GLC Mumbai’s students to do after-college hour internships (which, if you are good, translates into placements).
Symbiosis Law School, Pune is a top notch option too.
The book ‘Law as a Career’ by Tanuj Kalia (published by LexisNexis) contains a detailed sections on how to choose a law school and how to make the most of your law school journey. You can buy the book through this Amazon link.
6. Do some law schools/law colleges also take admission on the basis of the class 12 board exam results?
ILS Pune and GLC Mumbai admit students on the basis of their class 12 exam results.
7. What’s the Bar Exam and what significance does that have for someone interested in law as a career in India?
All India Bar Exam is a qualification exam a law graduate has to take after the completion of his/her course to be eligible to practice in India.
The Bar Exam is an open book exam and is very easy to pass.
However, nearly 30% of the candidates who take the Bar Exam fail to clear it. This is reflective of the poor standard of legal education in India.
8. What are the basic skills one must have to succeed in Law as a Career in India?
The ability to read and comprehend ‘tough texts’ is the first and foremost quality anyone wanting to be a lawyer should have.
(The words and sentences used in Bare Acts and judgments can be long and convoluted)!
The ability to think logically is the second must have trait.
Thirdly, a lawyer writes more than any other professional. Your ability to write flawlessly should hold you in good stead.
Finally, your ability to speak cogently is critical too. As a lawyer, you’ll have to communicate clearly with your colleagues, clients, judges, lawyers on the opposite site of the negotiation table and many other people.
A big misconception many people have is that to be a successful lawyer one has to be a natural public speaker/debater. This is not true.
If you can speak intelligently, that’s all that you need. Of course, your debating skills can sometimes help you as a litigator (but not always, and litigation is just a part of what law as a career has on offer).
9. In India, how monetarily lucrative is a Career in Law?
The biggest perk of being a lawyer is that you are a ‘part of justice being done’.
However, if money thrills you, law as a career will not disappoint you (provided you are good enough).
Large law firms in India, the likes of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, AZB, Jyoti Sagar Associates (JSA), Trilegal, Khaitan and Company, Luthra and Luthra pay in excess of Rs. 1 lakh per month to freshers.
Banks like the ICICI bank too pay nearly the same.
Mid-tier law firms like Desai and Diwanji, Nishith Desai Associates (NDA), Wadia Ghandy and Co., Kochhar and Co., Bharucha Partners etc. pay anywhere from Rs. 40,000/month to Rs. 80,000/month.
However, there are not more than 300-500 such jobs available in India in any given point. These mostly go to students of top law schools.
If you try your hand at litigation, you’ll be making around Rs. 15,000 (average) per month for starters, if you are practicing under a senior lawyer in Delhi.
The average salary an LPO job would give you is around Rs. 15,000 (average) per month too. The highest paying LPO, Pangea3, pays Rs. 40,000/month (approx.) to graduates of top law schools.
Please do not be mislead by what to pink papers (Economic Times, Business Standard and others) shout at the top of their voices. The 12 L+ annual salaries they quote is reserved for the biggest law firms. And as we said before, there are not more than 300 such jobs.
Read the article here for more details.
10. What are the different career options in law?
Here are some niche practice areas and work arenas:
- Corporate law (law firms and companies)
- Public Prosecutor
- Judicial Service
- Intellectual Property law firms
- Legal Academia
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- NGOs and Think Tanks
- Tax Law
- Judge Advocate General
- Legal Journalism
Do you have any other questions on the Legal Career in India? Just put your question as a comment below.
Before asking your question please read the book ‘Law as a Career’ (published by LexisNexis).
It should answer 95% of the questions you’ll have!
Full disclosure: Tanuj Kalia, the author of the above-mentioned book also runs this website.