Law As Career


Law school edge

From Mahatma Gandhi to Barack Obama, the list of luminaries who have used this profession as a stepping stone to greatness runs long and wide. Gone are the days when black robes and courtrooms were the bread and butter of lawyers. From swanky corporate offices to jobs in movies and the media, lawyers have moved many moons away from the conventional and now live very much in the real world.

As law incorporates diverse fields, it opens various options for law graduates. The demand for savvy law school graduates, with the requisite skills to handle key positions at leading organizations across diverse sectors, has surged dramatically. With a growing economy and an increasing number of foreign firms targeting the Indian market, the requirements of legal expertise will only increase, making law a very lucrative career.

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKING : Career in and beyond courtrooms

Traditionally all lawyers used to get their degrees and would go into practice. More often than not a senior advocate would take you under their wing and you would get an opportunity to shadow him / her for a year or two developing your own skills in the process. You could work in areas like criminal, civil or constitutional law and be jumping from one courthouse to the other twice or thrice a day submitting papers, injunctions, appeals and getting a true taste of the legal profession.

Law Firms
Top Indian law firms like Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A. Shroff & Co, AZB & Partners, J Sagar & Associates, etc. race to law schools each year to battle it out for top talent. Most firms tend to specialize in a particular domain like Amarchand & Mangaldas is world renowned for its expertise in the banking domain, though it also operates in other areas. Anand & Anand is India’s top Intellectual Property Rights firm, while Bhasin & Co does great work in dispute resolution.
Top Law firms generally have a legal staff in excess of 100 lawyers and take mostly corporate assignments, though on the odd occasion you may handle individual cases too. The Name Partners (after whom the firm is named) run the firm and have a profit share. You would join such a firm as an Associate and would need to be both an exceptional performer and a very long term employee to work your way up to becoming a Partner. More often than not though, most Associates work for multiple firms before going into partnership with 2 or more like minded individuals in their area of specialization.

Corporate counsel
More and more lawyers today are opting for joining companies instead of law firms and being on their in-house staff instead. Traditionally this decision is made much more to do with the quality of life on offer rather than a professional decision. Corporate life certainly isn’t cushy by any stretch of the imagination, and often involves greater interaction with non-legal aspects of business like sales, marketing and finance. It also offers the individual a greater propensity to expand his / her skill set and requires the legal counsel to have considerably better social skills while dealing with people not from the same domain. However, it does usually involve more of a 9-5 corporate culture rather than staying up late every night as a litigator preparing for your next hearing.
Some popular recruiters from top law schools today are ITC, IBM, Infosys, Wipro, Dr. Reddy's, Biocon, PWC, KPMG,HLL, etc.

The dream for many a lawyer is actually to move to a position where he/she can have the maximum impact on society, that is, as a Judge. There are two routes to become a member of the Indian Judiciary – one is to become such an amazing litigator that you would be elevated to the Judge’s bench one day. The other route is to partake in a competitive selection process for Indian Judicial Services.
There are also a number of new arenas that are opening up for legal experts, and there is no shortage of takers for quality lawyers in any of the following domains:

Social Law:
The true objective of the law is to provide justice, and the people who need it the most are the ones who really can’t help themselves. There is always a small section of people in every law school who want to really make a difference to the life of the downtrodden, and hence academia has responded to the need of society to prepare lawyers with the skills needed to succeed everywhere from NGOs to the United Nations.

Media and Law:
Journalism is an unsurprisingly popular option for young lawyers. Be it politics, world affairs, environment, finance or even sports! The basic skills needed to excel as a journalist – eye for detail, research, quality writing - overlap with the law domain and with just a little bit of polishing you could be heading for a career in a domain of interest.

Business Management:
 A large number of global business leaders have a background in Law, take the Chairman of Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein for example. A degree in law does not have to be the end of your education. Law teaches you a number of skills that are applicable across domains and armed with your legal expertise, a move into Business Management, either by doing an MBA, or by getting a job directly in the financial sector are not unfamiliar alternatives.

Legal Process Outsourcing: 
Getting legal help in a lot of countries is a very expensive proposition, and with the demands of the changing economy law firms are looking to cut costs by passing on portions of their work to less expensive destinations. India with a high number of English speaking lawyers is poised for an LPO revolution that will see a demand for legal services go through the roof.