One of the most rewarding careers both in terms of job challenge and monetary benefits is undoubtedly law. Open to students of all streams, law is suitable for someone who has a passion for understanding the legal systems of the country and who is looking for challenging and exciting opportunities at the work front. In the last couple of decades, there has been a steady increase in the demand for law graduates in diverse fields.
CHOICES IN SIGHT
With the entry of a number of law firms, the recruitment of law graduates has reached a new high. These law firms not only take up litigation but also aid clients with mergers, acquisitions, due diligence audits and a range of related work. These firms make a beeline to top law schools, particularly the National Law Schools, to rope in the best brains during campus recruitment drives. Most of these firms pay handsome salary packages to the young law recruit, and this is indeed drawing a lot of law graduates to the law firms. Depending upon the stature of the law firms and the academic background of the candidate, these law firms offer fresh law graduates annual salaries ranging from Rs. 8 lakh to Rs.12 lakh.
On the other hand, law graduates, who are keen on embarking on practice in law, normally do not participate in the campus recruitment and scout for a typical law firm engaged in litigation or prefer to work under a Senior Advocate. Eager to be trained by an “expert” in the chosen area, they are content with a moderate remuneration package, but have their eyes set on learning the ropes of the profession. Most of these law firms or law offices of established lawyers pay these freshers anywhere around Rs.3 lakh to Rs.5 lakh, as it is equally important for them to have efficient hands and retain talent. Today, law graduates are looking at untapped and emerging fields of law such as Environment Law, Intellectual Property Rights, Arbitration, Taxation and Competition Law, to mention a few, and are no longer restricting themselves to traditional areas of civil or criminal sides.
PUBLIC SECTOR AND PEDAGOGY
Higher levels of autonomy granted to public sector undertakings have, in recent years, led regular recruitment year after year. Banks and PSUs look for knowledgeable and bright law graduates to join their legal department, as law officers, to perform a variety of functions such as drafting, negotiating and vetting contracts. Steady job, fixed working hours, assured salary increase and promotions are the attractive features of this opportunity. Annual starting salaries including perks could range from Rs. 4.5 lakh to Rs.7 lakh.
The emergence of many private law schools and new National Law Schools has created a huge demand for lecturers in these colleges. Lack of experience is hardly a constraint as these law schools are keen to have young professors armed with a master’s programme and who have a penchant for teaching and can vibe well with the students. As many of these young professors are themselves a product of the National Law Schools, they understand the needs of the students better and are adept with the teaching pedagogy. It is ideal for those who derive joy in teaching and interested in legal research, while being assured of a decent pay packet.
Interesting opportunities await law graduates in areas such as Legal Journalism and with NGOs, international organisations, centres for policy-making and legal research and government departments.
WHERE TO STUDY LAW?
There are three categories of university where one can study law. The first option is the Government Law Colleges, the entry into which is based on the board examination marks. Most government colleges have done away with entrance tests especially for the five-year programme, so admissions to these colleges are based on cut-offs obtained in the Senior Secondary Board Examination. These colleges offer both a three-year and a five-year programme. The three-year course is ideal for graduates from any discipline and the five-year course is pursued by students after completion of 10 + 2 examination.
The second choice is to study law in private law colleges; the selection is again based on the board examination marks. Some private colleges, however, conduct their own entrance tests and a few colleges use CLAT/LSAT scores to give admissions.
The third category consists of the National Law Schools. What started as a bold experiment in the field of legal education back in the 1980s, has become a phenomenal success. With just one National Law School in Bengaluru in 1988, today, the country boasts of 17 schools coming under the “National Law School” banner and are part of CLAT (Common Law Admission Test). There is also another prestigious National Law School in Delhi which conducts its own admission test. The National Law Schools offer only a five-year course.
CLAT is a single unified entrance test for these reputed law schools. A mere 8,000 candidates took this test in 2008. In 2015, about 42,500 students sat for it! The number is expected to increase in the coming years.
Any student who has passed 10 +2 board examination or an equivalent examination can apply. Those appearing for the same in 2016 can also apply for CLAT 2016. There is no upper age limit prescribed.
CLAT is an online test which consists of 200 multiple choice questions on areas such as English, Basic Arithmetic, General Knowledge, Logical and Legal Reasoning. Time allotted is two hours. Each question carries one mark and there is a negative marking of 0.25 marks for every incorrect answer.
English is a predictable section which has a comprehension passage, questions on usage of grammar, error detection and sentence sequencing. A separate section on vocabulary based on Latin legal terms can also be expected. The difficulty level could range from simple to moderate level.
The Mathematical Ability segment tests the test-taker’s ability at an elementary level. The questions are based on time and work, time and distance, averages, simple and compound interest, ratio and proportion, etc. The difficulty level anticipated is only moderate.
The General Knowledge section includes questions both from current affairs and static general knowledge. For tackling current affairs, a focus on the national and international issues that took place during 2015-16 is required.
In Logical Reasoning, you can expect an array of questions on puzzles and syllogisms and analytical reasoning and analytical reasoning-based questions. A standard level of questions should be anticipated.
Legal Reasoning tests the reasoning ability of the students, namely, to apply a given piece of information in a situation and arrive at a logical answer. Questions carry a legal principle, a factual situation and four options. Students are expected to apply the given legal principle and arrive at the appropriate answer. In addition, there would be questions on current legal issues.
Dates to remember
CLAT will be held on Sunday, May 8, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in many centres across the country.
Online application for CLAT 2016 opened on January 1 and closes on March 31.
Detailed information along with e-brochures is available at www.clat.ac.in