Law is increasingly becoming one of the most sought after profession in India due to the lucrative opportunities right after graduation and the plethora of career avenues for the students to choose from. There is also an aspect of thrill attached to field due to being part of the justice system and positive effect on the personality is unequalled as compared to any other discipline.
Generally in other disciplines there is reverence for post-graduation qualification like in engineering and it is believed that having a post graduate degree gives an added advantage in these types of field. Law is an exception to this general presumption, as it was believed that post graduation in law is pursued only by academicians. This is a stereotype that is prevalent even today but the reality is that law as a profession and as a discipline has changed its course over the past twenty years and is still revolving. So this pigeonhole ideology is breaking its hold, with top legal institute in India and abroad offering more specialised post graduate courses in law and even the top management and engineering institutes like IIMs and IITs are offering post-graduate degrees and diplomas in various branches of law due to its practical utility.
If you are confused about your career even after doing masters or deciding on whether to pursue masters then there are multiple options that need to be explored before deciding upon a career option. These options will have to be selected and analysed on the basis of the person’s interest, passion, goals but all of them are worth dwelling on to make a rational choice.
The first career option is the most obvious options that need contemplation as this choice of career is one of the most mistaken paths of career. Academics as a career is highly competitive in law as only a very small percentage of law students take up masters, doctorate degree and get into academics. It is also a fairly lucrative option as a fresher as there are various government and private funding schemes which provides scholarships to undertake doctoral degrees and research works. The most prestigious in India being Junior research Fellowship (JRF), which is a scholarship programme funded by the central government to undertake full time research in various disciplines including law. As a long term option academics brings in both mixture of prestige and pays high. Government of India, public institutions, organizations (example being IBBI, SEBI, CCI, etc) have specific positions, both contractual and permanent, for researchers which is great as a career option for those having zeal for original research and writing.
Teaching as a profession is undertaken with research work or as a sole career option. India like many developing countries has a dearth of qualified teachers. According to the University Grants Commission (UGC) a person needs to be NET qualified to be eligible for the post of Assistant Professor, which is first position held in a university as a teacher. So to have a thriving career it is recommended to be NET qualified. Private colleges do take up candidates who are not NET qualified but pay-scale and opportunities are more even in private sector if one is NET qualified. The greatest advantage of taking up teaching as a career is that in the central, government or government funded universities the par scale is according to the prevailing pay-commission bracket which makes teaching in these institutes as highly lucrative option. The added advantage is that a person can even take up additional assignments besides teaching to build up the career and make more money.
Public Sector – Defence and Police Jobs/Civil Services/Forest Services/Railway Jobs
The public sector jobs are the most sought after and evergreen career option for Indians since ages. These require one to appear for entrance exams conducted by government institutions like UPSC, SSC, JAG, etc. All such entrance tests require rigorous preparation, dedications and time. Masters in law is for a year (in most of the institutions today) which gives an added time period for person to prepare for the same. Also at the time of the interview and at the time of promotions having masters will give an edge over a normal graduate for which dedicating a year is worth considering.
Corporate Sector- In-house counsels and advisors
Being in-house counsels bring in a mixture of both learning, growing in the field and great work-life balance as compared to life in a legal firm or litigation. Though many corporate take up fresh graduates right after LLB though campus recruitments but still there are many others who conduct open recruitments for which a person having masters will have an advantage. The tricky part of this career path is that the institute of post-graduation has great significance in corporate selecting a fresher, thus one have a carefully select and get enrolled in institute having a good repute in the legal fraternity. Also the top colleges in India have their own recruitment cell or committees providing a ladder to get in corporate field.
Litigation and law firms
Litigator or lawyers provide legal advice and represent client in the court of law during a legal dispute. This is most generic career option for a law student, even a master’s student that has not lost its charm due to the magnitude of growth, remuneration and recognition that one can achieve in it. Albeit masters in law might not extend great benefits in the litigation and firms but it does provide an additional year for undertaking various internships, forming associations with reputed lawyers, etc. This is of special relevance to those students who might have done their graduation in Law from traditional, private or less reputed colleges as doing masters from the top institutions like NLUs, IITs, abroad, etc can make up for the lost opportunities due to not having tap of a good institute.
Legal specialist in niche area of law
Although this is not a separate career option and overlaps with other options like litigation and corporate advisory but it is pertinent in coming years because of many factors. Firstly the new branches and enactments like Data Protection, Bankruptcy, GST, etc need specialised knowledge in these field of law and having masters in these branches which surely attract specific and nuanced opportunities for a student. Secondly these branches may not find place in the compulsory curriculum as decided by the Bar Council of India thus students may miss out of opportunities related to them.
Judiciary and judicial clerkship
Judiciary and clerkship is the most prestigious career option for a law student and is highly competitive. This does not need any clarification as to future prospects for law students. But like public sector jobs, preparing for judiciary needs rigorous preparation and perusing masters may afford additional skill and time for the same. Similarly a master’s candidate fetches more salary both in lower and higher judiciary and has an edge over others during promotions. Considering judicial clerkship as a future prospect, the skills and experience gained during masters will act like a buttress for being considered for the contractual position.
Some additional aspects to be considered
Depending upon the choice of career after LLM it is crucial to decide the institute from which one should undertake masters from. If one aspires to be in a corporate field or go for a position in legal firm then the campus recruitment of the institute pay a crucial role. So such aspirants should thoroughly investigate the past placements from the institute and make their decision on the basis of that. On the other hand for judiciary, litigation or UPSC aspirants the choice of institute may be the deciding factor and there are other considerations that will be more relevant like how demanding the curriculum is or how stringent is the attendance requirements in that institute. Thus it is of utmost importance to first analyse the career path and then decide the institute for post-graduation in law.