Career In Law
The legal profession has been a flourishing career option for a long time now. Not only does it yield money and social status, but also gives one the opportunity to contribute to societal good on a larger scale. As a profession, it is engaging. Also, as far as higher education and research-based work is concerned, law is much in demand both at home and abroad.
Lawyers can find employment opportunities in public and private sector organizations. Most Lawyers prefer to become an advocate and practice law as a profession. For that they have to enroll with the Local/State/Central Bar Council. Central/State Government jobs are also open to Lawyers. They can be appointed as Judges of various courts, as Attorney and Solicitor General, as Public Prosecutor and also in Defense, Tax and Labour departments. Moreover Lawyer can also work as legal counsel and legal advisers for firms, organizations and families. They also can be appointed as Company Secretaries in various firms.
They also can work with legal consultancy firms dealing with tax, excise, patent, labour and environmental laws. They also can work as trustees of various trusts, law reporters in media industries. Besides Lawyers have also ample career options in Law schools and collages as a teacher/professor. In addition to this Lawyers also can join politics because they have large public contacts. These non-profit organisations like NGOs are need the service of Lawyers. International agencies like UNO, ILO, and ICJ also employ Lawyers of good reputation and track records.
Salaries of experienced attorneys vary widely according to the type, size, and location of their employer. A qualified lawyer employed in government department has pay packages as per the terms and conditions of the government. Those appointed as judges have good remunerations and other perks offered by the government. Lawyers preferring private sector have more lucrative pay packages. The earnings of lawyers working privately as advocate or consultant depends upon the number and nature of their clients.
General Tips for CLAT Preparations…
FOR THOSE SERIOUS about pursuing law as a career and doing law from a reputed law college, CLAT preparations should start in Class XI itself. Yes, being more of an ‘aptitude test’, CLAT can be cracked with minimal preparation but that will not be advisable for someone who is serious about pursuing law as a career and not willing to take any chance.
Some General Gyaan on how to go about preparing for the CLAT preparations –
Maintaining focus on Board Exams Along With CLAT –
There are multiple reasons why you can and should focus on the board exam along with your CLAT preparations.
Firstly, because CLAT does not require intensive, day-long preparations. It might be a broad generalization, but if you are very good in English and have a strong general knowledge base, 150-200 hours of dedicated preparation is all that you require for CLAT. This roughly translates to a month-long intensive preparation. Compare that with IIT-JEE which usually requires 8-14 hours preparation every day for minimum two long years.
Caveat: This is not to say that you should do your CLAT preparations in a month. If law is the foremost career option for you, preparations should begin from Class XI.
Secondly,colleges like GLC, Mumbai and ILS, Pune, which are among the top law schools, admit students solely on the basis of their Class XII marks. GLC and ILS, put together, admit nearly 500 students every year, which makes them equivalent to 5 NLUs (in terms of the number of seats).
Thirdly, the Class XII board percentage will be in your CV forever. Yes, despite scoring low in the Class XII board exams, one can do great in life. However, a good Class XII board percentage showcases that you have been hardworking, academically bright and sincere from a young age. Hardworking, bright and sincere – anyone would like to have such a person work with or under him.
Fourthly, scoring well in your board exams helps you keep your options open. Life changes often, many a times without a warning. Maybe you will end up in a good law school, maybe you will not. Maybe you will like law in your first year, maybe you will want to drop out of law school soon. A good board percentage always keeps your options open.
Start Your Preparations as Early as Possible. Imagine a race where you have a head-start over other competitors. Sounds unfair, right? In a tough contested entrance exam, where nearly 30,000 aspirants fight for 1000 odd seats, where a one mark difference can make or mar your chances, you will want to leave no stone unturned. As mentioned earlier, 150 hours of preparation is enough for CLAT. But if you are serious about pursuing law from a top NLU, you have to give it your all and start preparing from Class XI itself.
With such a marathon of a preparation, you run the risk of a burnout? Firstly, the risk might be over-hyped, because if you start from Class XI itself, the best you can do is put in a couple of hours every day for your CLAT preparation. (If you are from a vernacular medium, investing in another couple of hours study solely focused on the English language preparation is suggested). Compare this with someone preparing for the IIT-JEE who puts in 8-12 hours of study every day. You will realise that the risk of a burnout for a student preparing for CLAT is minimal. Secondly, this risk is easily countered by following some simple things: Do not give up on your hobbies. Do not give up on spending time with friends. Do not give up on sports. Take weekends off on a regular basis.
You would also want to start your preparations early, because subjects like English and General Knowledge take time to build upon. Ten words a day is the only solid way of working on your vocabulary. Yes, Norman Lewis will help, but it will be like the dessert over the ten-words-a-day main course. Ten pages of a GK manual is the only solid way of working on your general knowledge (unless you have been a quizzer or an avid newspaper reader from childhood).
Join a Good Coaching Institute. You can surely crack CLAT even without joining one. However, a coaching institute is useful because of the following reasons:
Firstly, a good coaching institute will have good faculty members. Some of these faculty members would have been in the CLAT business for years and they know the ins and outs of the test. Others might be graduates from NLUs, having themselves aced the CLAT during their younger days. Some of them might be subject wizards who will make you fall in love with the subject.
These faculty members will hold your hand during your CLAT journey. they will be your counsellors, subject experts, and even help you with the filling up of forms and other logistical issues. They will also keep you updated with the news, and without a doubt, Cracking CLAT will be a ‘happening’ journey.
Secondly, in a coaching institute you interact with your peers regularly. They are your competitors but they can be your collaborators, too. Howsoever you see them, being in the company of a peer group is good for you. Studying in a classroom with 30 other competitors helps you get a sense of where you stand. If that does not happen in the classroom, it will happen in the mock test. If you see your classmates as collaborators, do regular group study sessions with them.
Take a Lot of Mock Tests. Take your mock tests with sincerity and they will help you in multiple ways.
Firstly, they are an ideal simulation practice for you. Do make sure that the conditions under which you take your mock tests are similar to the CLAT Exam Hall setup. Start and finish on time. Practice on a computer.
Secondly, when the results are out, you will know how good or bad your preparations are. You can also know in which sections you are doing good and what needs improvement.
Thirdly, it allows you to devise a strategy: which section to attempt first, which to attempt last, etc.
Fourthly, mock tests help you develop a large base of ‘expected’ questions in CLAT (especially the current affairs part). Finally, mock tests put you in the right frame of mind for a competitive exam. You know when the exam is tough, it’s tough for everyone and the cut-offs are going to be low. If the exam is easy, it is easy for everyone.
Your coaching institute will surely provide you with a bunch of mock tests. Also, subscribe to a mock test series by a second coaching institute because there might be areas where the first institute is not getting it right.
Caveat: Those who do really well in the mock tests do not always end up with high ranks in CLAT and vice versa. Some aspirants get overconfident and their intensity lessens. Some aspirants are fatigued by the end of it. Some are just plain unlucky. There have been many CLAT toppers who did not do especially well in any of their mock tests. For records, there have been CLAT toppers who have never taken a single CLAT mock test. At the same time, many who regularly did well in the mock tests ended up with good CLAT ranks as well. So the verdict is this: ‘Take your mock tests well, but they are not the final word on your or anyone else’s CLAT rank.’
The Mix and match Technique for the 2 Hour CLAT Marathon
Here is the idea: CLAT is a 2-hour marathon exam and you will get mentally exhausted after a while. If you can stay alert for longer, you will perform better. Now, some sections (like legal reasoning and logical reasoning) require significant brain work. Other sections like the GK or grammar require less intensive efforts. In these sections, you either know or you do not know the answer, or you can try making quick, intelligent guesses.
You use this ‘dual structure’ (tough questions and easy questions) of CLAT to your advantage. Solve 4-5 tough legal/logical reasoning questions and when your concentration levels start dipping, relax and solve 8-10 GK or grammar questions to take a ‘break’ of sorts. This ‘break’ ensures that your mind is fresh and alert throughout the 2 hours. Also, juggling different sections has some freshness about it and you are not numbed by one particular section.
At the same time, sometimes you might be in a ‘flow’, where you find that you are breezing through a particular section. In such cases, feel free to solve all the questions of that section in one go. Test all of these strategies while taking your mock tests and know what works for you before the D-Day!
How to Handle Negative marking in CLAT…
Let us get some numbers here. In a perfect entrance test which has 200 questions with 4 options each (A, B, C, D), 50 right answers should be option A, 50 should be option B, 50 should be C and 50, D. Most of the entrance exams are near-perfect in this respect.
In CLAT, for every right answer you score 1 mark and for every wrong answer you get a – .25.
Let us do some calculations now: Say there are 4 questions to which you do not know the answer at all. You mark all the answers as option B. According to the law of averages, you will get one such answer right. With this, you score a mark. The rest of the 3 answers are wrong and -.25 marks are deducted for each. Overall, .75 marks are deducted. In the final calculations, you still gain .25 marks!
This brings us to a puzzling, but a possibly clever conclusion, that even with a .25 mark negative marking, you should attempt all the questions!
However, if you want to play it safe, there are some basic rules for handling negative marking in CLAT:
1. If you can eliminate 1 option out of the 4, attempt that question.
2. In case you have any confusion between two options, go with your hunch. Learn to trustyour gut feeling. Practice trusting your gut feeling in the mock test and get to know how it works for you.
3. B and C have the higher possibility of being the right option vis-a-vis A and D. This goesagainst our earlier assumption of a perfect test, but well, that is what the pundits say.
4. In case you are marking answers randomly, pick one option out of b and C (say C) and mark ALL the answers with that option (in this case, C) only. If you pick B, all your questions for which you are randomly answering should be marked as B. Avoid going like A, B, C and D and mark haphazardly. You may not be that lucky!
How to prepare for Legal Aptitude…
Can you think like a lawyer? Can you apply a principle of law logically to a set of facts? Can you read the set of facts and decide what all is important, what can be ignored and what might be the clinching factor? ‘Legal reasoning’, part of legal aptitude, tests all that.
The second component of legal aptitude is ‘legal knowledge’. Under this, the CLAT paper setters want to know whether you have a basic interest in law and the legal processes. If you have the basic interest, you will have the basic knowledge, too.
PREPARING FOR LEGAL REASONING
1. For starters, get all the previous year question paper of NLSIU, NALSAR and CLAT to get a hang of this section. Read the questions and try answering some of them. Refer the answer key and you will realize that without any preparation, by applying plain logic, you will get between 60-80% questions right. Logic, after all, is a close sister of law.
2. Now, get hold of the legal reasoning module of any good CLAT coaching institute (LST, Prime Tutorials, Sriram, IMS, CLATapult, CLAT Possible, Legal Edge Tutorials, etc.). Read the modules and understand the legal reasoning concepts explained there.
Note: Some of the best-selling books on CLAT available in the market have got the legal reasoning portions wrong and you may want to avoid these books.
Solving legal reasoning questions can be both fun and tragic. One minute, you might be rejoicing on solving a particularly tough problem while, in the next, you might be tearing your hair apart, puzzled, as to why and how you got a seemingly commonsensical question wrong.
3. Discuss and Debate. Discuss and debate your answers with your peers. While it is important to get the answer right, it is more important to delve deeper into the logic used and debate on the other plausible answer(s). Remember, in the real world, a hard legal problem never has a clear-cut answer. It is debated upon in conferences, in legislative bodies and in the court room.
4. Jot down the commonly asked questions, the tough questions, and questions you never get right.
After going through the past years’ question papers and the legal reasoning modules, you will figure out a pattern. There are overall 200-250 ‘types’ of legal reasoning questions that can be asked. Sometimes, the principle is worded differently. Sometimes, the facts are elaborated upon or changed a bit.
Note down the commonly asked questions and know what their answers are and why. Note down the tough questions as well. Further, there will be questions whose answers go against your common sense, mark them as well. Try to understand such questions from your faculty. Keep revisiting such problems till your ‘common sense’ changes more towards the correct answer.
5. Read the ‘Explanations’ Provided in the Bare Acts of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. A lot of CLAT and SET (Symbiosis Entrance Test) questions are based on this. Go through all the explanations twice or thrice.
6. Experiment and explore. Legal Reasoning questions based on the Law of Torts and the Law of Contracts are the favourite subjects of CLAT setters. The Constitution and Criminal Law are also tested frequently. However, you must be ready for any surprise the CLAT might throw at you. Read up a bit on say, Intellectual Property Law, for fun and frame your own questions and answers on the subject. Get a friend to do the same for you, maybe on some other subject. Not only should you dabble in different ‘areas’ of law but you should also try and solve different types of questions. You may even create some novel questions of your own, for example, a question in which you are expected to find which of the four is the strongest argument for a particular client.
7. Important. Prior knowledge of law is not required to solve any good legal reasoning question. However, the CLAT setters, for a particular year, might not be ‘good’ and having a bit of legal knowledge help during such exceptional circumstances.
8. Facebook. Do not spend too much time on ‘Facebook’ forums and groups. Yes, keep yourself up to date with what’s happening, but 30 minutes, twice or thrice a week should be fine. Spend more time on the trusted source i.e. books!
PREPARING FOR LEGAL KNOWLEDGE
1. Know thy topics. The most important topic for this section is the ‘Constitution of India’. It is never a bad idea to buy the bare text of the Constitution of India and read and refer to it from time to time. Memorize the preamble of the Indian Constitution, just like you have memorized the Indian National anthem. Basic knowledge of the Tort Law, the Law of Contracts and the Criminal law is also important.
2. Know what is trending. There will be some topics that are ‘current’, and questions can be asked on such topics. For example, for the year 2015, do you know what Section 66A of the Information Technology Act is all about? How about Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code?
3. Develop a keen interest in reading up on law-related topics by starting with topics that are your personal favourites. Law as a subject is omniscient be it politics, science and technology, or environment, a legal angle to any topic becomes important. And you can use this to build your interest in law. If you are a techie, you might want to read on how privacy is becoming a hot topic with social networking websites and apps. If you are a nature lover, do read up on what laws are applicable to the environment. This will help you fall in love with law.
GIVING LEGAL REASONING A TEST RUN
In most entrance tests, English, Mathematics, Logical Reasoning and General Awareness, appear in some form or the other. The special component of CLAT and other law entrances is ‘Legal Reasoning’. Legal Reasoning is an interesting subject. It involves thinking logically about a legal problem. Most of the Legal Reasoning questions consist of a ‘principle’, a statement that must be considered true even if it goes against common sense. That principle is then applied to a set of facts.
Let us take one small example to understand what a Legal Reasoning question might look like:
Principle: ‘Negligence’ is the breach of a duty caused by the omission to do something, which a reasonable man, guided by those considerations that ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do, or doing something a prudent and reasonable man would not do.
Facts: The workers of the Bye-Government body are digging up a big pit to erect a big pole in Sundernagar, a residential colony in Hyderabad. After dogging the pit, the workers retire for the day. They put a huge board saying, ‘Site under construction. Please stay away’. Chandra Babu, a blind man, walking around the area, falls inside the pit and is injured. He sues the Bye-Government body for damages. i Is the bye- Government body liable?
Option A. Yes
Option B. No
The first step is to read the principle and the facts carefully. The second step is to read the principle and the facts carefully again! Next, identify some keywords in the principle: ‘breach of duty’, ‘omission’ and ‘reasonable man’.
Here we need to answer a simple question: Would a prudent man make some safety arrangements for the visually impaired? The answer is yes, he would. A reasonable man would actually cover the pit so that no one falls into it in the first place!
The answer, therefore, is, ‘Yes, the Bye-Government body will be liable.’
How to Choose a Law School
HERE ARE SOME guidelines on how to go about choosing a law school.
The Top law schools in India are:
1. The national Law School of India University, Bangalore (NLSIU)
2. The national Academy of Legal Studies and Research, Hyderabad (NALSAR)
3. The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata (NUJS)
4. The National Law University, Delhi (NLU Delhi)
5. The Campus Law Centre, Delhi University, Delhi
6. The National Law Institute University, Bhopal (NLIU)
7. The National Law University, Jodhpur (NLU Jodhpur)
8. The Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar (GNLU).
The institutes listed above are the top eight law schools in the country. The Government Law College, Mumbai (GLC) and the Indian Law Society’s Law College, Pune (ILS Pune) are old and renowned institutions, but are struggling to keep pace. The Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur (HNLU), the Symbiosis Law School, Pune and the Amity Law School, Delhi, are also among the best law schools in the country. In case you are getting an admission into any of these colleges you can be assured of a quality legal education.
Do Not Go by the India Today or Outlook Magazine’s Rankings. India Today and Outlook are respected, popular weekly magazines. However, they are not in touch with the stakeholders of legal education, be it the students, the teachers or the recruiters. You can use the rankings issued by them as a good reference point to arrive at a shortlist of law colleges, but nothing more. To do your own research, check out websites like ‘Legally India’ and ‘Bar and Bench’ for recruitment-related statistics. Also check the website of each college for accurate details about the faculty, infrastructure, etc.
Your best bet to know the true picture of a law school will be to talk to a couple of students personally.
Caveat: Some law students will try to sell their college. Beware!
Ignore the X versus Y Debate. There are many law aspirants who fight tooth, nail and claws arguing if ‘X’ Law College is better than ‘Y’ law college. Such discussions are a waste of time. There is nothing that you can get at NLSIU Bangalore, the first preference of many, which you cannot get, say at, NLU Jodhpur, generally the fourth or the fifth preference. There are countless examples of students from low-ranked law colleges, who worked hard and are doing well in their careers. Similarly, there are graduates from colleges like NLSIU, NALSAR and NUJS who did not do much through their five years of law school and are struggling to even make a living. Of course, graduating from a top law school acts as a great launch pad, but you have to then use that launch pad. And yes, even those from an unheard-of law school can create one for themselves.
All NLUs are Not Good. Unfortunately, most of the newly opened national Law Universities are struggling to get even 50 percent placements for their students. While placements should not be the only yardstick to measure the quality of a law school but,it does portray a part of the reality objectively. Most of these NLUs lack good quality faculty too. Unfortunately again, for these new NLUs, the situation has not improved in the last five years.
Choosing a Law College Near Your Home. If you do not get admission in any of your short-listed law colleges, you may well want to study law from a local law college. This has two benefits. Firstly, with low fee structure and no hostel and mess fees, you can spend money on additional activities in Delhi or Mumbai. With Supreme Court, a High Court and multiple tribunals, Delhi is the nerve-centre of lawyers in India. Studying at a law college in Delhi will help you attend many related conferences and workshops, build contacts, and even intern throughout the year. The scenario in Mumbai, the hub for Indian law firms, is similar. Ask any GLC, Mumbai student how he/she benefits from living in Mumbai!
A. Social Media:
1. LinkedIn. A ‘professional’ social network. Do make good use of its recent ‘publishing’ platform, which works just like blogs do. Also, do ‘follow’ the ‘influencers’ on LinkedIn for some great career advice and insights.
2. Twitter. Most law students do not tweet. However, it can well be the starting point of your conversation with a leading journalist or a public figure.
3. Quora. A question and answer (Q&A) website. Many answers are from people in the ‘field’ and can be insightful.
I. Foreign Authors
1. The Rule of Law by Tom Bingham
2. Letters to a Law Student by Nicholas McBride
3. Learning the Law by Glanville Williams and A T H Smith
4. What About Law? By Catherine Barnard et.al.
5. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
6. The End of Lawyers by Richard Susskind
7. The Case of the Speluncean Explorers by Lon Fuller
8. 1L by Scott Turow
9. T Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
10. The Trial by Franz Kafka
11. The Firm by John Grisham
12. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
13. The Paper Chase by John Osborn
II. Indian Authors
1. Roses in December by Justice MC Chagla
2. Before Memory Fades by Fali S Nariman
3. Neither Rose Nor Thorns by Justice HR Khanna
4. My Own Boswell by Justice M Hidyatullah
5. Nani A. Palkhivala: A Life Paperback by M V Kamath
6. The Story of my Life by Clarence Darrow
7. Ram jethmalani: The Authorized Biography by Nalini Gera
8. NiniPalkhiviala: The Courtroom Genius by Soli. J. Sorabjee, Arvind P. Datar
9. The Angel’s Share by SatyajitSarna
1. A Few Good Men
2. A Time to Kill
3. Anatomy of a murder
4. ….And Justice For All
5. Class Action
6. Dead Man Walking
7. Devil’s Advocate
8. Erin Brockovich
9. Find me Guilty
10. Inherit the Wind
11. Judgment at Nuremberg: 8.3
12. Kramer vs. Kramer: 7.8
13. Legally Blonde: 6.2
14. Murder in the first: 7.3
15. My Cousin Vinny: 7.5
16. North Country: 7.3
17. Pelican Brief: 6.5
18. Philadelphia: 7.7
20. Presumed Innocent: 6.9
21. Primal Fear: 7.7
22. Runaway Jury: 7.1
23. The Accused: 7.1
24. The Firm: 7.1
25. The Paperchase: 7.2
26. The Rainmarker: 7.1
27. The Thin Blue Line: 8.1
28. The Verdict: 7.8
29. To Kill a Mockingbird: 8.4
30. Witness for the Prosecution: 8.5
1. Ab DilliDurNahin: 7.9
2. BaatEkRaat Ki: 7.3
4. EkRuka Hua Faisla: 8.3
5. Jolly LLB: 7.1
6. Kyunki Mein JhoothNaheeBolta: 5
7. Meri Jung: 7.4
8. moksha: 6.5
9. Mohan Joshi HaazirHo: 8
10. Shahid: 8.4
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