At present the interest in law as a career has grown manifolds. India has produced great lawyers who have been acclaimed at national and the international stage. Since it has a relatively new formal educational structure, it might be a little difficult for the uninitiated to understand how he or she goes about becoming a top notch lawyer in India.
The law profession’s flexibility with the subject requirements, and its potential to lead to high paying jobs, means that the competition in this field has been always very high.
In this article we will systematically deal with everything you need to know to become a lawyer in India, we will also touch on tips and strategies that you could implement and the skills you might need to acquire to become a well rounded and a successful lawyer.
The basic education in law
Law is a diverse profession which accepts people from different streams. It does not matter what subjects you studied in your +2 or what bachelor degree you pursued, you can still become a lawyer.
You can opt for one of these two ways of becoming a lawyer.
1. Integrated 5-year course (such as B.A L.L.B./B.com L.L.B. etc.) after school
This is an integrated program for those who are certain about pursuing law. Some of the combinations under integrated law are (B.Com LLB, B.B.A LLB, B.A. LLB) BSc. LLB or B.Tech. LLB) so it does not matter whether you had science, arts or commerce in school. Getting into a good law college after 12th requires hard-work, and solving ability of mathematics, as a number of entrance tests such as CLAT, AILET, SLAT etc., on the basis of which you get into good colleges, test the students on mathematical ability among other things. An added advantage of this integrated course is that you end up saving a year, as it takes 5-years for a law degree as compared to the 6 years as it would have taken otherwise.
2. LLB degree after graduation
Alternatively, you can opt for a graduation in any stream such as BBA, B.Com or BA and then pursue the 3-year LLB degree. While it increases the time you will take to become a lawyer by one year, but on the positive side it gives you time to grow and make up your mind about pursuing law. This only adds to the flexibility of law as a profession and means more intelligent and bright minds are eligible to become top lawyers.
There are added formalities of clearing the Indian bar exam and registering yourself with the bar council, after completing either of these two law courses, which need to be completed.
Skills to have as a lawyer
If you are able to pursue the 5-year integrated course in law or the LLB, spending 5 or 6 years clearing your exams and all other requirements you will be entitled as a lawyer. If you are pursuing your studies from top colleges such as any of the National Law Universities, the chances are that you will turn out to be a super decent lawyer. But whether you evaluate your future favorably or not, there are skills and habits you need to acquire that will help you become a well rounded lawyer. As Albert Einstein once said, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what they learned in school.”
1. Be a voracious reader
Being a voracious reader does not mean reading your textbooks, it means reading newspapers, and books that challenge you as they will increase your analytical ability and help enhance your critical thinking skills. Also you will need to do a lot of reading as a part of your legal practice, so you would benefit from developing the habit early on.
2. Do not limit your education
Always remember, as a lawyer, stagnancy is your worst enemy. Keep taking courses, reading books, meeting other professionals etc. to keep growing. For instance you can try and take up an online course that brushes up your foundations in logic, creativity, or your problem solving skills. You can read books about famous cases or reach out to people who are already doing things you dream of doing in the future. You would be surprised to find out the people wanting to share their learnings.
3. Hone your writing skills
Real life lawyer practice involves taking notes while listening to people, while reading documents and case laws, statutes or regulations, and finally figuring out what to do after going through all your notes. As a lawyer you will be writing a lot and it will only help you if you are used to writing.
4. Communication and people skills
There are numerous ways to improve your communication skills of working on one’s vocabulary and there are classes one can take, books one can read to hone their communication skills. At the risk of sounding preachy, always be aware of your drawbacks and work towards developing a drive to overcome them.
5. Research Skills
As a lawyer the ability to research quickly and effectively is an important skill required to understand your clients, and preparing your legal strategies. Preparing a legal strategy generally requires a voluminous amount of research, so to become a great lawyer you should have excellent research skills to be able to gather important information.
Considering the recent mushrooming of a number of recognized institutions for studying law in India; if you have intent, a basic awareness and an acceptable ability to understand and retain concepts and information you can become a lawyer in India. While graduating from a decent, reputed college it is not essential that the college will automatically make you a good lawyer; similarly graduating from a lesser known college does not automatically mean that you are doomed. There are steps you can take and skills you can acquire (like the ones mentioned above) to set yourself up for success.