Are you interested in solving legal mysteries and fighting for the rights of people? You can become a criminal, civil, corporate or intellectual property lawyer. As a lawyer, you will apply legal knowledge and theories to solve individual problems. Read this article to know the key steps required to become a lawyer in India.
Step 1: Acquiring a law degree
The first step to becoming a lawyer in India is completing a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) course. There are two types of LLB courses available in India: an integrated 5-year program and a 3-year program that you can pursue after completing graduation.
Five year LLB course
The five-year course is available at an undergraduate level, straight after class 10+2. There are several universities offering the 5-year LLB degree, and admission to this course is based on the entrance exam conducted by the respective universities. The most important entrance exam is the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), which is accepted for admission into the 14 National Law Universities across India. The CLAT assesses candidates on English, logical reasoning, legal aptitude, elementary Mathematics and general awareness.
Universities which admit for the 5-year LLB course through CLAT are:
Eligibility for CLAT
To be eligible for appearing for CLAT, you should have obtained a Senior Secondary School (10+2) or equivalent certification from a recognised board with a minimum of forty-five percent marks in aggregate (forty percent in the case of SC/ST candidates). You should be below twenty years of age (twenty-two in case of SC/ST candidates) as on the test date.
Apart from the above-mentioned universities, there are some other universities which offer a 5-year law course including Symbiosis Law School, National Law University, Delhi and Jindal Global Law School. These universities conduct separate admission tests. Some universities accept Law School Admission Test (LSAT) for granting admissions. The test is conducted by the Law School Admission Council. Apart from these, there are state level entrance tests for admission into respective state universities.
Three-Year LLB Degree
You can also opt for a 3-year LLB degree after completing graduation. You can complete your bachelor’s degree in any stream with at least 50 percent marks. Some universities offering a 3-year course include Banaras Hindu University, Delhi University, Punjab University, Government Law College (Mumbai), and others.
Correspondence/ Distance Learning Courses
Many universities offer correspondence and distance learning courses in law. Some of these universities including Delhi University, National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Pune University and others. However, you must bear in mind that correspondence and distance learning law programs are not recognised by the Bar Council of India. So, even if you obtain a degree through distance learning, you will not be able to practice in a court of law.
If you want to become a lawyer in India and practice in the court, you need to obtain either a 3-year or 5-year full-time degree in law. Any other course will not give you a license to practice law in Indian courts.
Subjects you study in LLB
The 3-year law course comprises of core subjects such as Criminal Law, Jurisprudence, Business Laws, Intellectual Property Laws etc. Depending on whether you choose to do a BBA LLB or BA LLB, the 5-year course subjects will include commerce related subjects including Economics, Accounts, etc., or arts related subjects such as Sociology, History, Political Science, etc., apart from the core law subjects.
Step 2: Internship
After completing the classroom courses, you will have to do a mandatory internship as per the norms set by the specific institution.
Step 3: Enrolment with state bar council
The final step to becoming a lawyer is to enrol yourself as an advocate in any of the state bar councils regulated by the Advocates Act 1961. The State Bar Councils do not have a uniform process of registration. After registration, you must clear All India Bar Examination (AIBE). The exam is conducted by Bar Council of India, and once you clear it, you get a certificate of practice. The test assesses your basic analytical capabilities and your knowledge of the law.
After completing LLB, you can either choose to start practising, or you can continue with studies. You can opt for an LLM course to get in-depth knowledge in your area of interest.
Difference between a Lawyer and an Advocate
We often use the terms lawyer and advocate interchangeably, however, there is a difference between the two. After completing your LLB course, you become a lawyer. However, you are still not an advocate. To become an advocate, you will have to enrol yourself with any State Bar Council and clear the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) as explained above.
Job Opportunities as a Lawyer
After you become a lawyer, you can set up your law office, and practice independently. However, most law graduates first practice under another experienced lawyer to gain practical experience and learn the tricks of the trade before they start practising alone. Depending on your chosen area of specialisation, you can become a civil lawyer, criminal lawyer, corporate lawyer, income tax lawyer, etc.
As an advocate, you can also serve in the Government sector. You can appear for tests conducted for the selection of public attorneys. You can also clear the judicial services exam of your state, and become a judicial magistrate or civil judge. You can appear for the state or Union Public Services Commission exam to become a civil servant.
Law graduates have umpteen opportunities in the private sector also. You can join a legal firm, and earn a handsome salary. Corporate houses also hire law graduates as legal advisors. Even the banking industry has a high demand for lawyers.
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Overall, the job prospects for a lawyer are quite bright, and with the right attitude and skill set, you can have a prosperous career.
If you want to make it to a reputed law college, you should prepare well for CLAT and other law entrance exams. Competition for admission to top law colleges is intense. So start preparing early, and if required, hire a private tutor or join a local coaching institute.