By Mayank Kumar
Ever had a cash crunch? Be it the out of budget fashion accessory to the gourmet food of your favourite café, no one likes being broke. Of course, there are various non-legal options available to make a quick buck, but ask yourself the question: What if I built my CV, while working a job?
Striking a balance between enhancing your CV and getting a good stipend isn’t as hard as you think. Listed below are various such opportunities that you can benefit from as a law student. As the order progresses, the experience requirement also increases, and so do the returns:
1. Become a Para Legal Volunteer
As you enter law school, the Legal Services Authority might try to recruit the freshers into their Para Legal Volunteer (PLV) Program. If they don’t, you can contact the nearest authority about the same.
This method works depending on the way the Legal Services Authority in the court near to you works. The Different Legal Aid Authorities contact law schools and their legal aid cells to hire Para Legal Volunteers that are then given tasks like awareness drives, assistance in Lok Adalats etc.
These work very well for people aspiring to study abroad in the future as this is a social work of a sort. The stipend is provided on a per-day basis, if at all, so even if it seems quite generous for a day’s work, the scarcity of regularity in this work makes the pay occasional.
However, you will be reimbursed for the expenses borne by you for this Para Legal Work. Another factor is that the payments are sanctioned by the concerned authorities before reaching your bank accounts. This lag in the payments can be of days as well as months.
The hiring and training of the Para-Legal Volunteers(PLVs) are done due to the scheme for the same launched by the National Legal Services Authority(NALSA).
The document with all the details about the scheme can be found here.
The summary of the process through which a student is hired by DLSA(Dwarka Legal Services Authority), though, is this:
- The Head and/or the Legal aid cell of the college is contacted to hold a training session for freshers who are interested in becoming a PLV.
- A date for the PLV training is announced and registrations for the same are opened up.
- Usually, a two-day facilitation and training program is held within the campus, where representatives of various legal authorities, as well as authoritative people, enlighten the students about various legal issues.
- At the end of the two days, the students are declared to be Para-Legal Volunteers.
- You will be contacted whenever an opportunity for PLVs comes up.
Even if you get work only once or twice, it is quite nice to be registered as a PLV. In addition to better qualifications, you also get to help people in need and gain valuable experience.
2. Work-from-Home Internships (moving from free to paid assignments)
As law students, you have to write. It’s better to take up this activity at the earliest and gear up for the future. There are a plethora of legal startups out there who offer work from home internships.
You will surely not receive any stipend, exceptional cases aside, in the general course. Work for these organisations to build your CV enough to be accepted for the actual paid work.
Working for free is a just a strategic manoeuvre to understand the way blogging works. Once you get a grip on this, you can move on to the next step.
As your credibility builds up, start asking for a stipend for the work. While this does not have a 100% chance of working, you will know your current standing and can figure a way forward from here.
3. Legal Blogging/ Content Writing
I can’t possibly stress enough how many times I have been told that writing is what counts. Reading lets you gain knowledge, listening further adds to the pool, but writing is necessary to fortify that knowledge. Legal Blogging as a career has been around for quite some time now. The same goes for content writing.
Now, some may think that it appears dull on the outset, but it is the best way to keep yourself updated and engrossed in the developments of the legal world. It is also known that frilly language has no value outside law school as all it creates is technical jargon.
The blogs you write will be seen by various people. You can even put these in your CV as a legit research activity. Thus, blogging helps in personal development as well as CV building.
There are two ways you can approach Legal Blogging:
First. Write for a popular blog: The top ten legal blogs in India have their daily visitors in lakhs right now. They upload new articles daily. And these articles are all written by people no different than us. Usually, such blogs pay people on a per view basis, giving them a commission from the ad revenue earned.
But there are blogs that pay a fixed amount per accepted post out there as well. To write in a popular blog, you need to have a considerable skill as well as experience in writing.
The common problem faced here is that you will get a very low per blog income if you get any at all. Even blogs like Live Law pay ₹100 initially per article rise it to around ₹300 after the person becomes a regular as has been told by one of the regular writers.
But still, you can earn decent money and get a lot of writing experience if you set weekly targets and achieve them. Since law students usually remain underpaid for their services in this field, you can prioritize the prestige of the blog you are writing for. Some of the blogs worth writing for are:
- Live Law.in – stipend mentioned above. (₹100-300 per blog)
- iPleaders.in – They usually provide blog/content writing internships that aren’t work-from-home. The stipend of ₹5,000 is only given on writing 50 publishable articles. However, a minimum of 10 articles needs to be written to qualify for certification.
- Legally India.com
- Bar and Bench.com
You can expect the average per blog income to be near ₹300 at such blogs. Beyond blogs, work at content writing jobs that are posted online will earn you not lower than ₹5000 per month with reasonable time to be put in.
Content writing jobs are repetitive and usually only available through such job posts, but jacks and referrals never hurt anyone. The best part about these is that the pay ceiling is way higher than blogs.
Beyond blogs work, this article on content writing jobs in Delhi is worth a read.
You will build your writing skills further after pursuing these opportunities. Now, you can write a good article in a respectable time. It is time for you to start your own blog(if you didn’t have one all along).
Second. Start your own blog. You can acquire a free domain from any of the hosting sites and start writing your own blog. If you are able to get respectable views, upgrade to a plan that lets you advertise and start earning money.
Managing your own blog is a gruesome process with a lower success rate, but if you are successful, you might not even need to build your CV anymore.
To write legal blogs you first need to know the norms for the same. While the person who hires you will provide you with guidelines and tips, you need to know of the common practices.
American Bar Association, in 2010, attempted to outline the most necessary practices to follow while writing legal blogs. These are the tips to follow:
- Give legal provisions not legal advice.
- Write either in layman language or legal jargon with explanations.
- Remember who the blog is intended for.
- Focus on Quality of the content and its usefulness- It’s not your term examination paper.
- Write about concepts familiar to you, or research till they are.
- Provide unknown but important information.
- Follow the theme set for the blog: A family law article on an IPR blog makes no sense to the viewership.
How to start your own blog?
Now, if you are actually interested in going down this road, you need to know all the basics about blog management and writing.
Formation of a Blog: We are making a legal blog here, this type of blog usually gets updated with articles criticising the problems prevalent in the country, analysis of different endeavours, legal news, structural analysis of concepts etc. To successfully make a blog, a very simple procedure is required:
Making a Blog
This section focuses solely on making a blog known by many. It is only concerned with steps for viewership.
- Make an account on wordpress.com.
- Choose a name for your blog. eg. Lawctopus.com, Bar and Bench, MetroLegal etc.
- Take the free package to test out the waters.
- Customise the website design through the templates available.
- Choose the blog header image and/or the blog logo. – this defines the brand that your blog is. You can either make one or get it made.
- Your free blog website is more or less complete. Now is the time for some marketing.
- Make a page for your blog at various social media platforms- Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Regularly update them with links to new blog posts.
- Share the pages to all your contacts and periodically monetise them if you find that traffic does increase on monetization.
- Write content people want to read. It should include contemporary issues or highlight previously unknown facts for it to attract viewers.
- If people like what they read, they are bound to add you to their feed.
Writing the Blog Posts
Knowing what to write requires experience. It is a process of trial and error to find the sweet spot between what others like and what you find doing justice to the topic. The types of blog posts encouraged are:
- In-depth answers to contemporary legal questions
- How to articles: follow a step by step approach(like this blog you are reading)
- Case Studies
- Analyse/ describe legal changes: legislative and judicial
- Analysis of trends and Industry news
This website is great for bloggers to give a read.
4. Participating in Various Competitions
It is better to start participating in competitions early on in your student life. The level of confidence and professionalism built with it, and the links made, are priceless.
There is a long list of competitions that provide huge prizes for the winners:
- Moot courts/ Mock Trials
- Essay/ Judgement writing competitions
- Parliamentary Debates / Regular Debates
- Client Counselling Competitions
These are just the popular ones of the long list of competitions that various Law Colleges and organisations organise throughout the year. There are law fests that comprise all/ most of these as well.
The problem with these, though, is that the ones getting the prize and glory are limited. Furthermore, participation carries no or little value in your CV, even though the experience is invaluable.
There are a lot of ways for a law student to build their budget as well as CV at the same time in recent times. Doing so does require a certain level of discipline, but what doesn’t? Picking out the one that best suits one’s interests and calendar, though, is a must.
5. Maintaining a Freelancer Profile
Get registered on LinkedIn, Freelancer.com and any other site that catches your fancy. The freelancing websites are updated with an inhuman amount of work, that doesn’t always require a lawyer to do. It is a temporary and unforeseeable route, where the wait for work is not known. But parties here are serious about their work.
The work can range from drafting to legal advice, to checking for errors. You have the choice, whether the work is worth your while. Most of the activities listed in this guide are freelancer work.
6. Representing Parties in Court
This might seem puzzling, but yes, you can represent other parties in specific courts even if you are not a registered advocate. More specifically, you can do this in a consumer court. Fighting for a party for a small percentage of the relief received as a commission will build your litigation skills as well.
This is a rather unconventional method and it’s up to the discretion of the judge to let you do this as well. But it sure is worth giving a try.
This field has been slowly gaining popularity. Recently, Chanakya Sharma, a student of RMLNLU, Lucknow, UP appeared in before the consumer forum in Jaipur, Rajasthan for a senior citizen for just Re. 1. The battle that drew out for 2 years, ended just days before writing this article, i.e. on 20th August, 2018.
He appeared on behalf of this person so as to help him to fight the injustice that was committed against him, regarding unintimated changes in a security scheme that was invested in by the client.
Read the full article here.
Also, law students are filing consumer cases on receipt of bad quality items, be it electronics, or consumables. A law student recently helped a person in their consumer court proceedings regarding a faulty ‘refrigerator’ and took 10% of the total relief received, which included additional damages as well as interest, the parties to the dispute were more than happy with the relief received.
7. Preparing case briefs
Finding a busy lawyer that you are comfortable with for work, and making them value you enough to pay you is the only ordeal in this line of business. Your work quality will need to be top notch for this, and that quality will be derived from your experience in the past internships.
You WILL have to work for free in the start till you figure out the correct method for you. After that, your price is up to you.
8. Ghost-writing books
Ghostwriting is when you write for someone else, and it ends up as their work. They will provide you with the insights and their take on what the content should be like. It’s your job to meet their expectations.
People pay high for doing all of the physical labour while ensuring quality and being discreet about it. If you can take away most of the grunt work from them, and do a good job at it, you will be very surprised by how much money you can make.
9. Conventional Methods- Part-Time Internships and Research Assistants
Pursuing Part-Time Internships has been an age-old method of earning money while learning the law. Going to the chambers of an advocate after school’s out and working late. You get a monthly stipend and have smartly made use of time that might have otherwise been wasted.
When you gain enough experience researching the law, you become capable of assisting a lawyer in their work. It might provide you with a slightly higher pay, and you might even be allowed to work online. It is another conventional method that senior law students prefer. And it does have relevance to your CV.
You can follow the methods listed for scoring drafting work here as well. Look for the internship section on the websites mentioned for part-time internships. The Job and internship posts include details for stipend as well. The other option is to contact the lawyers personally and ask for work.
It is also recommended to try to stick with one advocate once you find the right one. It will not only diversify your experience (as the lawyer starts entrusting you varied work) but can be helpful for future prospects as well.
Sticking to one chamber will make you learn most of the ways of that court, and you can just start working at that place itself after graduation. There also is a chance that you get a better stipend after you become a regular and start helping with more intricate stuff.
With the increase in difficulty, so does increase the money made and the responsibilities. After gaining enough experience, sometimes when a person needs to fuel up their money tank, the following opportunities serve them well.
10. Provide Legal Advice to Startups
With our Pro-Startup government, learning the provisions and procedures concerning startups goes a long way. You can either provide consultancy services to many or join as the legal advisor of one. Helping them along the way, through every step, will be a boon to both your pocket and CV.
While there is no surefire way of getting a hold of any startup, some of the better methods are these:
Quora (and related sites)
The concept of forums is not new. And neither is Quora, which will soon be a decade old. You answer the query of a person, with the knowledge you possess. If you have a way with your words, and of course the requisite knowledge, you can attract multiple views to your answers.
Find questions posted by startups, answer them in an attractive manner, and add your contact along with an advertisement of yourself at the end of your answers, and in no time will you have a network of prospective clients. After all, it is all about proving yourself.
Work with other people in the same field
There are many ‘startup lawyers’ out there. Find one and start working with them while slowly building rapport. Prove yourself useful to both parties and find references for individual clients.
Looking for Job Posts
The sources for finding opportunities mentioned in the first point can very well be used to find startups as well. There also exist additional sources: websites like LawRato.com, Legistify.com, Vakilsearch.com, and many others provide various opportunities for people to get in contact with lawyers.
However, these sites prefer lawyers as they want to maintain a certain level of quality in their services.
Work From Home(Paid)
Working remotely and getting paid doing so is a statement on its own. Once you have enough stars in your CV, its time you start asking for what you deserve.
You can start looking for these opportunities at these places:
Job Posts on Lawctopus itself, Live Law, and Legally India are worth keeping track of. There are other Blogs out there with job posts as well, but it is common knowledge that well-known places are where both the parties are most likely to meet.
Internshala is a place where you will be able to get a plethora of drafting internships. The problem is that from a pool of various aspiring candidates and relatively scarce viable opportunities, you need to stand out head and shoulders above the rest to have a decent chance of scoring an Internship early on.
You also have the option of personally contacting the interested parties but this is subject to individual ability and resources more than something that can be taught.
Find only that work which requires the hours that you will be able to put in weekly. Get a reasonable stipend. The work will give you contacts, cash and calibre. At this level of expertise, the time allotted for work by you will be limited and the reward derived from it would be greater.
11. Drafting and validating contracts
If you have ever worked for an advocate, you know what drafting is. Typing down those pages is no easy task. Even practising lawyers have a tough time properly drafting a contract. However, if you get a hang of it, you can pretty much say goodbye to pocket money troubles.
To legally draft a contract, there are no educational qualifications necessary.
You just need the knowledge required for one which you can gain either through rigorous training under a successful lawyer, which can be done by finding a nice internship (through methods listed below), or by joining an online course. If you just learn to draft just the most common types of contracts, it will suffice. These are as follows:
- Leave and License Agreement
- Memorandum of Understanding(MOU)
- Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreement/ Non-Circumvention
- Lease Deed
- Partnership Agreement
- Employment Agreement
The online courses have been subject to scrutiny for quite some time now. There has also been a controversy recently as two major sources of online diploma courses – GNLU and NUJS were debarred from providing such courses. The University Grants Commission (Online Courses or Programmes) Regulations, 2018 set these restrictions on offering of such courses.
Job Posts, internship posts and other such requests can easily be found on the web. Sometimes people are just looking for someone to amend their standing agreement. It is a faster and efficient method to earn money than many others. If you have a base template lying around, your job becomes even easier.
12. Coaching for Entrance Exams
Not all ways to earn money and knowledge will have a relevance to your CV. However, these are still very beneficial to a law student. One of the highest paying jobs a person can have in this field is one of the competitive exam coaching. Some even call it the ‘goldmine’.
When you crack a competitive exam to enter a reputed law college, you create an opportunity for yourself to use this knowledge to teach others for the same.
You have already proven yourself by cracking it, so the people aspiring will listen to you. Coaching others will act revision of important terms for you, and will earn you big bucks if you call your shots right. This can be done in the following ways:
You can individually tutor a prospective law student at their home. Provide them with the relevant material, mentor them to understand all the aspects of the exam, drill them with multiple questions and time limits.
One to one coaching has benefits for both the tutor and the student. The tutor will always be confident whether the student is learning something or not. They will be able to choose methods that are the best for that one student, giving a degree of flexibility to the teacher.
With the correct idea of the progress, proper rapport is also built between the teacher and student. The student will benefit from this by always getting appropriate attention and availability of the tutor for doubts and questions. The travel time to the Institute of the child is also saved.
This type of coaching yields a considerable amount of revenue. You can ask for more than ₹10000 for one student. Usually, the most popular way to do this is using Urban Clap or Urban Pro to find prospective students. However, you can explore options like other online services or finding someone through personal contacts.
The biggest advantage that you gain through personal coaching is that you can choose timings suitable to you. Your schedule can be more flexible for other important events because of this.
Becoming a teacher at a CLAT coaching institute isn’t suited to everyone. This usually is in favour of those that have the time to take regular classes during even timings and possess enough knowledge to answer the questions of a whole batch of students.
Usually, people who have completed their LLB and are preparing for CLAT for LLM prefer this way. The general pay for an inexperienced teacher is about 70,000 per month, provided that you go to a fairly reputable coaching centre and are able to persuade them that you are worthy of being a tutor at their institution.
This is one of the best ways to make a lot of money while refreshing your knowledge pool. The catch, however still is that you just cannot walk in and start teaching. You need to have a knowledge pool to begin with.
Such training institutes usually run on the individual goodwill of the teachers they advertise to have employed. This makes you the commodity they are selling. Therefore, it might not be the way to go for all of the people.
This new method of coaching people has been catching on recently. Prime examples being apps like BYJU’s and UnAcademy, the idea of using video conferencing and note distribution in advance works in favour of all the parties to this method.
The pre-requisites are almost the same as online coaching so, again, this method also shall be preferred more by the people doing their masters or PhD.
Written by Mayank Kumar. (The writer of such a detailed, well-written piece surely deserves a second mention)!