By Aastha Khurana
More often than not, parents, friends, teachers and even your dur-ki-chachi will question you at least twice, when you tell them about your decision to pursue a career in law.
Much to the dismay of lawyers, and other professionals in India, there still remains a royalty status attached to the professions such as engineering and medicine. Even if the engineer is only fixing the abandoned telephone poles and the doctor only tends to the little toe.
So what is it about law that seemingly (and may I add, incorrectly) repulses the royalty status? Should you really be listening to the dur-ki-chachi? Coming from someone, (who albeit is only almost a lawyer), the answers are god-only-knows and absolutely-not!
Firstly, a student from any stream of high school can pursue a legal career, so it is not just for the humanities students. There is also place in law for those who find themselves attracted to science, commerce, etc, to pursue those interests.
Secondly, one can choose to practice in innumerable fields. And the good thing is, that no toe is little in law.
Once you become a lawyer, you can either decide to practice in a court and get into litigation, or (for the less patient) you can get into corporate practice and tend to transactional work.
Litigation involves dispute resolution through the court system and includes both criminal cases and civil suits over subjects ranging from property, inheritance, marriage, adoption, murder, theft, human rights, partnerships, taxes, etc.
Transactional work on the other hand, deals with handling mergers between companies, drafting of contracts, arranging financing for major projects, banking laws, researching on intricacies of laws governing corporates, or other business associations, etc.
There is also an alternative dispute mechanism practice which meets midway between litigation and transactional work, i.e., that of arbitration, conciliation or mediation. You can choose do to all or either. And if you’re still not convinced and are thinking neither, then here are some other options for you after law.
You can be with various NGOs that work for curbing human trafficking, woman empowerment, gay rights, freedom of information, protection of environment, etc; or any of the UN organizations; or in banks; or in any of the government regulatory bodies;or in policy making think-tanks; or as a professor; or in media houses; or in big companies; or in hospitals, as legal advisors; or as lawyers-without-borders. Trust me, I could go on.
And if what is important to you is how-well-it-pays, then the good news is that most times, especially if you’re from a national law school, it pays well!
Additionally, as far as the royalty quotient is concerned, one should consider the fact that respect doesn’t come out of the profession you choose, but from how good you are at it.
Finally, having disseminated all this gyaan about the goodness of a career in law, I’d like to conclude by adding that while law is a very rewarding profession, both intellectually and otherwise, the decision to walk down this road should not be taken lightly.
It should be well considered that becoming a lawyer takes an investment of at least 5 – 6 years, depending on where you’re pursuing it from, as opposed to the 3 years that go a graduation degree. And (again, depending on the college) it can be expensive.
In the event that for any reason, you deem yourself fit better for another career, then the investment of all those years/money may pinch.
Secondly, like any other profession, law is not for the weak-hearted. To be good at it, you can’t have reservations against hard work. You need to be dedicated and focused. What helps (and enormously too!) is if you have the right guidance – both during preparation for your entrances and after you make it to a college.
Aastha graduated from NUJS this year.