Abhishek Pillai (name changed) completed his B.A.LLB (Hons.) from a low profile college in Tamil Nadu a few years ago. After miserably failing at finding a job at a big law firm for over a year, he thought of taking the judicial exams. He went to New Delhi to take coaching but couldn’t succeed. Frustrated, he decided to write bank PO exams to land a stable job, however, he could only manage to get through a small bank with terrible pay.
A qualified, hard working lawyer is hardly able to manage his own family. With a loan of 5 lakhs left to pay thanks to his graduation, he could have saved that money to survive after graduation. What is the point of a vocational degree which can’t even get you a good job in the profession?
Delhi based Karanvir faced similar issues after graduating from a college that made him at least 30 calls to join their university despite scoring terribly in CLAT. A whopping tuition fee of 8 Lakhs which took away every bit of his parent’s savings couldn’t get him a sustainable job.
“The college had promised campus placements at the time of admissions along with world-class infrastructure and nationally acclaimed faculty. They weren’t even close to what they had promised,” he said. Finally, after a lot of struggle, he got a break. An LPO was the closest he could get to law after graduation.
These stories are not unique to an Abhishek or another Karanvir. There are thousands of law students who are struggling to find jobs. The Kerala Government circular mandating a stipend of INR 5,000 for junior advocates with an annual income lesser than INR 1 Lakh gives us a glimpse of the harsh reality in the field of litigation!
You can’t be serious! The placement brochure told me something else!
Law is not as glamorous as suits portrays it to be. Apart from the top 5 National Law Universities and a few state and private universities, law students all over the country are suffering alike. If you have a look at this recruitment tracker by Bar and Bench, the results are appalling.
The results start with Jindal Global Law School’s data which states that as many as 64 students were placed in 2017. Looks like a great number, isn’t it? Read further. Out of 326 students graduating from 3 programs, only 29 landed jobs at the top 20 law firms, 21 students were placed in lesser-known firms, 10 students made it to MNCs, 3 were absorbed by the Jindal Group itself and 2 went to an LPO.
All others opted for litigation or judicial clerkship. For a university charging 7.5 lakhs per annum from the 2017 batch, the number is quite disappointing.
The situation at NLUs is no better. Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur (HNLU) projected 44 students as placed. Out of these 44, 18 were picked by the State Ministry alone. 32 got PPOs out of which 12 jobs were subject to internships. This means that out of the 73 students who sat for placements in a batch of 170, only 12 were placed on campus.
The situation worsens if you look at the latest additions to the NLUs. DSNLU, Vizag projected 42 offers. The grim reality? Most of the offers were from LPOs. 5 offers were made by King and Patridge (out of which 2 were waitlisted). 2 offers were made by Masilamani (out of which 1 was subject to assessment internship), and 1 offer was for working as a junior advocate under a lawyer in Chennai. For anyone who is paying INR 1.5 Lakh every year, you can imagine the return on the investment.
I belong to an NLU myself. I would have probably been in the same shoes had I not taken proper steps at the right time. From building my resume through internships, debates, moots to building my knowledge by scoring well in the exams and taking up an online course, I ensured that I don’t fall in the same bracket. If you are already troubled right now, I can assure you, it is difficult but very much possible.
So, what is wrong? What can I do to not fall prey to such a situation?
If we dig deeper, there can be two major problems responsible for this trend. First, the unchecked opening of mushrooming universities in every nook and corner of the country without qualified faculty, facilities and a decaying curriculum. Second, law schools not giving two cents about providing practical knowledge to the law students. This creates a perennial problem of good quality future lawyers.
We can now see a linearity between the revenues and disappearing headcount of lower-ranked college students in bigger law firms. Continuous changes with introduction of new laws such as Goods and Services Tax, reforms in pre-existing laws and emergence of new legal fields such as E-commerce and Fintech have created a demand for specific domain knowledge which most of the graduating students must necessarily possess.
The skills required by a lawyer has greatly changed. A fresher is expected to have skills like contract drafting, negotiating and vetting, apart from being thorough with the concepts in law. Companies and firms expect you to be knowledgeable, smart and master your soft skills. Do you think you have it all? If you are, you are good to go. If you don’t, you need to work on it.
Pull up your socks and start running!
As per Mr. Nipun Bhatia, Assistant Vice President at Legal League Consulting, “Firms expect the fresh lot to be smarter and well-versed with the basics. They expect the students to pick up the ground level knowledge during internships and not use the firm as a training school post graduation.”
The only way to get out of this rut is to keep yourself up to date. If the GST law just rolled out, you need to know about it. If the Arbitration Act is being amended, you need to be updated about that too. You need to ensure that your CV is upto date and you have a mentor to guide you.
If you cannot manage keeping up with the law, an easy way is to subscribe to informative legal websites so that every time they come up with a new article on relevant issues, you can read about it. Follow the newspapers religiously, it will not only increase your awareness but also improve your communication skills.
If you are extremely worried about getting a job, you can opt for a course like this so that you get sufficient updated knowledge, a great mentor and placement assistance too. If you are already a smart person, then brush up on your knowledge, make good contacts and keep checking if you are aligning yourself to your aim.
The times might not be great for all. Changing it for yourself is in your hands.
Make the best of it.