This article on ‘Litigation as a Career for Law Students in India’ was written by Amruta Patil, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
Like a game of chess where there are two parties playing against each other with very calculative, analytical, logical yet critical moves, planning one step ahead is what litigation is about. It is often called a pure form of law.
A path of never-ending learning is what litigation is all about. It is exciting, challenging, and rewarding at the same time.
The following article discusses litigation as a career choice for students in India.
What is Litigation?
Litigation means the practice of courts representing clients and resolving disputes. It starts when the parties involved are unable to resolve the matter through negotiations then the matters are taken to the court of law for litigation.
Route to Litigation:
The first step toward getting into litigation is to earn a degree in Law. The journey to becoming litigation starts with qualifying for the Entrance exam. These exams can be taken either after finishing higher secondary which is a five-year integrated course-B.A.LL.B. or after completing graduation -LL.B. which is three-year. There are entrance exams held for both courses. They are conducted state -wise or nationally across India.
The CLAT-Common Law Admission Test is an entrance test that opens the door to twenty-two National Law Universities (NLU) across India. The test is held all over India and is given after finishing higher secondary. There are other entrance exams that are held by various other universities such as –
- Indraprastha University, (IPU CET)
- Symbiosis University(SLAT)
- All India Law Entrance Test (AILET)
There are State conducted entrance exams which are also held for both 3-year and 5-year LL.B. courses. Few are –
- Maharashtra Common Entrance Test (MH CET)
- Telangana State Law Entrance Test (TS LAWCET)
- Kerela Law Entrance Examination (KLEE)
Most colleges conduct entrance for admission to their respective institution either through the entrance exams mentioned above or based on the marks acquired in higher secondary or graduation.
Lawyer vs Advocate:
Lawyers and Advocate these terms which are often used interchangeably in everyday lives. However, it is key to understand the meaning of the terms with their respective differences.
In legal parlance, both terms hold different meanings. One can say that –
‘All Advocates can be Lawyers but all lawyers are not Advocates’
A lawyer is defined as a person who has studied law and has a degree in law is called as a lawyer. He may or may not represent clients in court.
Section 2(1)(a) of the Advocate Act, 1961 defines an advocate as any person who represents his clients in the courts. A lawyer who clears the qualifying exam held by the bar council becomes eligible to practice in the Indian Courts.
Provisional enrolment, AIBE, and more:
Once the academic qualification is completed the next to obtain a license to practice. One can start practicing law after getting enrolled in the state bar. As of 12th August 2012, in a meeting, it was resolved that all the candidates who have graduated with a degree in law can be enrolled in their state bar councils as advocates. The candidate receives a provisional certificate and card with the word “Provisional” mentioned on it with a validity period. This provisional certificate is valid for up to two years only.
One gets a provisional license number after which they can represent parties in the court.
The candidate receiving the provisional license has to give an undertaking stating that the concerned person would in the upcoming two years clear the All Bar India Examination.
Why clearing AIBE is necessary?
In order to practice law in courts, one needs to clear the Bar Exam conducted by the Bar Council of India. The aim of the exam is to assess the skills of the law graduate for the application and understanding of the law.
The candidate who is graduating in law after the year 2009-10 to clear the AIBE exam mandatorily in order to practice law in India.
After getting enrolled the candidate is to clear the Bar exam to start practicing in courts as a litigant.
Once the candidate clears the bar exam he/she receives a certificate of practice(C.O.P) issued by the Bar Council which regulatory body created by the Parliament to prescribe the standards of professional conduct and etiquette regarding the legal profession.
On receiving the C.O.P, one can get and avail of the Bar Association’s Membership and its benefits such as voting- rights, and benefits of the advocate welfare association.
Areas of practice:
After taking all the necessary steps to become an advocate one is presented with a wide area of subjects to choose from as an area of practice one can specialize in more than one subject area. From civil to criminal there is a plethora of options one can choose from. Some people already would have picked an area of interest since the inception of their academic journey while for some it’s the trial and error route. Civil law, criminal, tax law, animal rights law, labor law, and consumer protection law are a few areas of practice.
A few areas of practice and their details are explained below-
In order to specialize in this one needs to have a thorough knowledge of subjects such as the Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, and Indian evidence act, criminology and victimology, etc.
A criminal lawyer usually defends or prosecutes individuals or organizations in criminal proceedings. One can represent the government and its agencies in the matter as a public prosecutor for the state in criminal matters.
This revolves around the matter of the company or organization. A corporate advocate represents the company as an entity in matters of dispute. They deal with all the legal compliances of the company.
A corporate advocate is involved in all legal matters. Some are taxes, mergers, and acquisitions, dispute resolution, venture capitalists, etc.
Intellectual Property Law-
It aims to protect the rights revolving around patents, copyrights, and trademarks. This area of law has recently grown exponentially with new opportunities being created. It involves work from drafting applications for trademarks and patents to forming agreements in case of breach occurs
M.C. Mehta v UOI is a very familiar name that one sees when studying the subject in Law school. This field of law matters and disputes dealing with the environment and compliance with the guidelines regarding the environment protection to be observed by the corporations and other organizations
This area of law matters involves issues of family law such as divorce, custody battles, and conflicts between the family members. A lawyer often acts as a mediator here between the family to resolve the matters while keeping the best possible outcome for the member involved.
Pros and cons of choosing litigation
- Litigation as a career is independence – one is the captain of the ship
- Multiple areas to choose from and practice from.
- A variety of cases are dealt with in their innings which means lots of learning
- No two cases are similar hence there is always something new to explore.
- The thrill litigation offers to build and argue the case, convincing the judge, and finally, the order passed in one’s favor is extremely rewarding and satisfying.
- At the onset, it becomes difficult to find the right mentors and guidance
- Initially, the career is not as lucrative as it’s slow in terms of financial rewards
- It’s a long route from being a fresher to a senior.
- It Is difficult to get clients in the beginning. It’s important to network aggressively and to build a track record to be noticed in the crowd.
- It entails long hours of work.
Bigger the challenge greater the reward a mantra that can be said to define what litigation as a career entails. It’s packed with failures and success at the same time. One learns more from the experience than from academic knowledge. It requires long hours of work, tons of reading, strategizing, and preparation. It’s a career where with every win you earn and with every failure, you learn.
- Lawyer Club India, (2020, October 15th) “ what if AIBE is not cleared in the prescribed time period” https://www.lawyersclubindia.com/forum/what-if-aibe-not-cleared-with-in-prescribed-time-period–213176.asp
- Bar Council of India http://www.barcouncilofindia.org/about/about-the-bar-council-of-india/
- Law Trends,(2021 April 21st) “difference between Advocate vs Lawyer” https://lawtrend.in/difference-between-a-lawyer-and-an-advocate/
- Indeed editorial team (2021, June 26th) “how to be a criminal Lawyer” https://in.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/how-to-become-a-criminal-lawyer
- Indian Legal, “how to become a lawyer ” https://www.indialegallive.com/legal/how-to-become-a-lawyer-in-india-a-complete-guide/
- Tanuj Kalia, (2020, March 8th) “litigation as a career option” https://www.lawctopus.com/litigation-career-option-india/