With the ever increasing sophistication of legal education system since its formalization in the late 80’s, the interest in Law as a career has only multiplied in the years since. India has produced many world class lawyers who have gone on to make it big at the 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 subject requirements and its potential to lead to high paying jobs means that the competition in this field is 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 successful lawyer.
1. The Basics: Where to start?
Law is a diverse profession which accepts people from different streams. It does not matter what subjects you took up in your +2 or what bachelor degree you pursued, you can become a lawyer. Here, let me simplify it for you.
You can opt for one of these 2 ways of becoming a lawyer.
- Do an integrated 5 year course (such as B.A L.L.B.) after school
This is an integrated program for those who are certain about pursuing law. Some of the combinations under integrated law field are (B.Com LLB), (B.B.A LLB), (B.A. LLB) or even BSc. LLB) so it does not matter whether you had science, arts or commerce in school. Having said that, getting into a good college after 12th requires hard work and a degree of comfort with mathematics as a number of entrance tests like Clat, LSAT, SET 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 as compared to the 6 years it takes otherwise.
- Doing an LLB degree after your graduation
Alternatively, you can opt do a graduation in any stream such as BBA, BCom or BA and then pursue the three 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.
PS: There are added formalities of clearing the Indian bar exam and registering yourself with the bar council, after completing either of these two courses, which need to be completed.
2. The cherry on top: What else?
If you are able to pursue any of these two routes and spend 5 or 6 years clearing your exams and all other requirements; congratulations! You will be able to call yourself a lawyer. And if you are pursuing your studies from top colleges such as any of the national law universities; double congratulations! 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 can acquire, correction, there are skills and habits you NEED to acquire that’ll 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.”
- Be a voracious reader!
I start with this because it is absolutely essential for a lawyer to be updated on information. It does not mean reading your textbooks, it means reading newspapers, 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.
- Don’t 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’d be surprised to find out how many people want to share their leanings!
- Hone your writing skills
Contrary to the glamorous picture painted in courthouse drama movies, real life lawyeringinvolves 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, and wait for it…writing that down too! So, basically; you’d be writing a lot, like A LOT! So it’ll only help you if you are used to writing. So get to it! Write away!
- Communication and People Skills
I have heard a lot of people lamenting about their inability to talk effectively or to communicate in an efficient way. But the thing is, these skills like any other skills can be acquired; so what those people should actually be lamenting about is their lack of effort and not their lack of ability. There are exercises one can do to modulate their voice pitch and tone; there are numerous ways of working on one’s vocabulary and there are classes one can take and books one can read to hone their networking skills. At the risk of sounding preachy, always be aware of your drawbacks and work towards developing a drive to overcome them. The solutions are out there.
- Research Skills
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. What requires rigorous planning, effort and devotion is becoming a good lawyer. While graduating from a decent, reputed college is essential that won’t 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. I’d leave you with this: “If you are going to do it, why not do it right?”