Career as a Lawyer in India

Career Information

Career Title
Career as a Lawyer in India


A lawyer is a person who practices law either as an attorney, barrister or a legal counselor by preparing, expounding and applying laws to various individualized or specialized situations. Law is one of the most sought after professions in India as every field or aspect of work needs to work in accordance with the laws set down by the relevant authorities. It is a prestigious and one of the highest-earning professions sought out by young students.

Starting Salary

What is the difference between a lawyer and an advocate?
A lawyer is a person who has attended law school and obtained a law degree (Bachelor of Legislative Law – LLB). An advocate is a person who is allowed to practice in a court of law by representing clients. She needs to be registered with the Bar Council of India. She can present the case in court and ask for compensation for the client or release of the client as the case maybe.

What are the qualities required to become a lawyer?
Law is one of the most sought after professions in India as every field or aspect of work needs to work in accordance with the laws set down by the relevant authorities. In order to become a good lawyer one must have patience, communication skills, attention to detail, ability to read and memorize a lot of information, hard work, perseverance, and most importantly passion for the profession. This is one of the professions where an individual can establish his/her own practice.

Who is an advocate? How can I become one?
An advocate is a lawyer who is allowed to practice in a court of law and can represent clients and present the case before the judge or a jury. In order to become an advocate, you need to enroll with the State Bar Council regulated by the Advocates Act 1961. On completion of registration, you need to clear the All India Bar Examination (AIBE). It is conducted by the Bar Council of India. This exam assesses the candidate in basic analytical capabilities and knowledge of the law.

Which stream of subjects should I pursue in higher secondary school in order to be able to take up a graduate degree in law?

There are no fixed criteria or subjects that you have to choose. You can choose any stream be it Science, Humanities /Arts or Commerce. Depending on your choice of subjects in class 12, you can choose to pursue BSc LLB, BA LLB or BCom LLB. Students interested in management or social work can also pursue BBA LLB or BSW LLB respectively. These are five year integrated courses.

How to obtain an LLB degree? How is it different from the BA-LLB course?
LLB is a Bachelor in Legislative Law degree, which is a three-year course that can be pursued after obtaining a graduation degree whereas BA-LLB is a five-year integrated course that can be pursued after completing 12th grade. The BA-LLB course has the subjects of Arts/Humanities such as Political Science, History, and Economics etc. apart from legal subjects. Some of the legal subjects that are covered are Family Laws, Labor Laws, and Criminal Laws etc.

What are the various functionalities in the practice of law ?
Intellectual Property lawyer, Personal Injury lawyer, Bankruptcy lawyer, Family Lawyer, Employment lawyer, Merger and acquisition lawyer, Immigration lawyer. Criminal Lawyer, Digital Media and Internet lawyer, Medical Malpractice lawyer, and Income Tax lawyer among others. You may choose to specialize in any field depending on your interest.

What is the fee structure for a BA LLB degree in India?
On an average the fees can be expected to run upto a few lakhs per annum. For instance, the fees for the BA LLB course in the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore is Rs 2-3 Lakhs per annum (approx). Private colleges such as Symbiosis Law School in Pune range from Rs 3-4 lakhs per annum (approx). Students can also take advantage of scholarship options that many universities offer in terms of total or partial fee waiver depending on the CLAT scores and all India rank. These vary from college to college, thus you need to check the respective college website for more details.

What is the syllabus of a five year integrated law course?
You have a range of options in the five year integrated programs that most law schools offer. Depending on your choice of subjects in class 12 and area of interest you can choose to pursue BA LLB, BSc LLB, BBA LLB, BCom LLB or BSW LLB. The first three years will focus on the core subjects of your graduate degree. For instance a BA LLB student will learn political science, history and economics whereas a BCom LLB student will learn accounting, auditing etc. The final two years will be common for all students and will comprise legal subjects such as labour law, corporate law, taxation law, intellectual property rights, international trade and business law etc.

What is the scope abroad for lawyers from India?
It all depends on the country. In most countries it is mandatory to pass the respective bar exams in order to be able to practice, whereas in certain countries you may be required to study an entire course before you are eligible to work. For example in some countries in Europe your Indian degree does not hold good, you need to study and obtain a degree before you are allowed to practice.

How to get admission into law colleges in India?

Many national level entrance exams are conducted for entry into India’s prestigious law colleges. Some of these are CLAT, LSAT, and AILET etc. There are many state level entrance exams too. The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) is the most popular exam conducted for entry into 22 National Law Universities (NLUs) across India. The candidates gain admission into the 5 Years integrated streams of BA LLB, BCom LLB or BBA LLB as specified by the candidate. The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is another national level exam that most private universities consider for admission into their undergraduate courses or integrated LLB courses. Currently 52 government or government-aided colleges recognize the LSAT scores. Also 20 private institutes consider this score as a prime criterion for eligibility. The All India Law Entrance Test (AILET) is also a national level examination organized by the University of Delhi for admission into the 5-year integrated degree program in the University of Delhi or the one-year PG level LLM course offered by National Law University (NLU) - Delhi. Also a number of private institutes admit students based on their AILET scores. Some of the other most popular entrance exams are Symbiosis Law Entrance Test (SLAT), Calcutta University Law Entrance Test (CULET), Banaras Hindu University Undergraduate Entrance Test (BHU-UET), and Aligarh Muslim University Law Entrance Exam (AMU-LEE).

What is the Judicial Services Exam?

Judicial Services Examination or the PCS (J)-Provincial Civil Service-Judicial Examination are entry-level exams for law graduates to become members of the subordinate judiciary. The state governments under the supervision of the respective high courts appoint members of the lower judiciary based on the competitive examination. This exam is for students who wish to join the prestigious Indian Judiciary with the aim of public service. There are two parts to the Judicial Services: Lower Judiciary Services and Upper Judiciary Services. Lower Judiciary Services: Fresh law graduates who wish to join the Indian Judiciary can apply. He/she must also be enrolled or qualified to be enrolled as an advocate under the Advocates’ Act 1961. No experience is required and even final year students can apply. Higher Judiciary Services: Law graduates with a minimum of seven years of litigating practice can apply.

What are the different career options in law in India?

A law student has plenty of avenues once he graduates. Apart from working as legal advisor in different public sector companies, banks, private companies etc. a law graduate can also explore the following options: Litigation, Corporate law, Legal Academia, Tax Law, Legal Journalism, Public Prosecutor, Alternate Dispute Resolution, Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO), and Judge etc.

Who is eligible to take the Bar examination?
The All India Bar Examination (AIBE) is compulsory for all law graduates in order to practice law. They can appear for the exam only after they have enrolled themselves as an advocate under Section 24 of the Advocates Act, 1961.

How should one prepare for law entrance exams?
· The first and foremost tip for a good preparation is to start early, at least a year in advance. An early head start will help you cover the basics first and leave time to cover the more difficult topics. · Secondly, planning and goal setting plays a pivotal role in preparation. Make short term and long term goals that will give you purpose and help focus. · Check out the exam pattern and syllabus. Identify study material/resources that are needed for preparation. Accumulate previous years’ question papers and mock test papers for practice purposes. · Before beginning preparation, check out the previous year question paper to understand whether questions are objective or subjective, whether there is negative marking etc. · Time management is crucial for any entrance exam, hence timing yourself while answering mock tests will give you an excellent idea as to where you stand in terms of completing the paper. It will help identify your strengths and weaknesses and allow you to work on your weak points. · Last but not least, as is the case with any task, practice, practice and more practice is the key to a success story!

What is the career progression for a lawyer?
Law graduates usually start out by working with a team of lawyers as an associate before progressing to become a full lawyer. Further after gaining sufficient experience they can even become a partner in a law firm or start their own independent practice. Alternatively they can choose to join the legal department in government offices, banks or private corporate firms.

How much can a fresh law graduate expect to earn?
Lawyers can be broadly classified into Litigation lawyers and Corporate lawyers. Litigation lawyers on an average earn much less in comparison to Corporate lawyers. A fresh graduate who works as a litigation lawyer can earn on an average anywhere between Rs 10,000/- to Rs.25,000/- pm. On the contrary a corporate lawyer is expected to earn anywhere between Rs 50,000/- - Rs 80,000/- pm. Furthermore there is a wide disparity in the earnings of lawyers which depends on various factors like the area of practice, the city where the advocate practices, size and reputation of the firm etc. Students from top colleges who pass out with excellent grades are expected to get good starting salaries in the corporate sector which can range from 10 -12 lakhs per annum.

What are the pros and cons of becoming a lawyer?
Pros Satisfying career Fighting for people and providing justice is extremely satisfying and gives a good sense of life purpose. Intellectually stimulating Law is a mentally challenging profession that requires intensive research as even a small detail can change the course of a case. High paying and prestigious service Depending upon your capability and ability you can grow in this profession by leaps and bounds and earn a good reputation for yourself. You can start your own independent practice. Wide range of career options Ranging from being a litigator to a corporate lawyer or even a professor, there are multiple career options for an aspiring lawyer.

High pressure Although mentally satisfying, it requires a tremendous amount of work and one must put in long hours to meet short deadlines. Dealing with loads of information Each case will require intense research and you can be overwhelmed with the amount of information you need to deal with. Increasing competition In order to prove your mettle, you need to be on top of the game. You need to deal with stiff competition for the top spot alongside many worthy contenders. Use of technology in creating legal service providers The use of technology to provide cheap legal advice to clients is a problem for lawyers as it eats into their client base. Procuring online legal services empowers the client who then doesn't feel the need to retain an attorney.

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