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Law as a career choice: Do we really have a choice?

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By Swati Jindal Garg

For all those who are wondering as to what this title is all about… well, it is all about the career choices that one is faced with these days! Gone is the era when all one could become was either a lawyer, an engineer or a doctor.

Today, it’s all about specialisation and versatility. The complexity of the legal scenario has created thousands of legal career options that serve a variety of core and non-core legal functions. The role of a legal professional is expanding by the minute with choices like lawyers, judges, mediators, arbitrators, paralegals, consultants etc. If there is one field that has experienced staggering growth in the last few years, it is that of the legal profession. One of the contributing factors in this growth has also been the fact that the legal industry is also coming up as one of the most lucrative in today’s job market. Associates in the leading firms start at a very good package and if they prove their mettle, they also get rewarded with handsome bonuses. Many no-lawyers also reap significant financial rewards in the legal profession.

Dr Swati Jindal Garg

Increased diversification and segmentation in the legal profession has led to the growth of legal specialities and sub-specialities that cater to almost every legal interest. A law student wanting to join litigation can specialise in criminal law, service law, family law or dozens of other practice areas. Legal professionals wanting to join the corporate world can also think of areas like tax, mergers, acquisitions, finance or other areas that satisfy their interests.

Before someone actually makes career choice, the first thing to take into account is one’s temperament. If a person is always interested in finding about the problems others are facing, is always surrounded with people who want his/her advice regarding various issues and hates routine… well, then law is definitely the field for you! At the heart of law lies the fundamental purpose of helping others resolve their legal problems. Law is one filed which is basically an amalgamation of all the other fields put together. It is one area where you never cease to learn and end up “practising” even when you become a specialist. Like I keep saying-

“to learn and improve is a lawyer’s way,
we practice at the bar till our dying day!”

Navigating an ever-changing legal system, vast bodies of case law and the unending demands of the legal profession creates a stimulating environment  for the legal professional that is not an easy task for everyone to handle. Only if you have the knack of grappling with conceptually challenging issues, the ability to reason with logic and the clarity to analyse the case and statutory law along with being a master at researching complex legal issues and oral and written communications can you think of taking up law as your field.

I was always encouraged to become a lawyer by my teachers and parents since my school days, this was mainly due to my inquisitive nature and zest for presenting a logical argument for everything. My interest in the LLB course from Delhi University made me do BA(Eco) Hons from SRCC as LLB was and still is a post graduate 3-years course in DU Law Faculty. After passing out from law college, I joined academics and research, instead of directly going into litigation. This decision has helped me a lot as when I finally did start with litigation, I felt that not only was I a much stronger person academically, but also I had a better grasp on the legal intricacies which I feel always get left behind in the hectic life of a litigator.

My love for reading, which, again, is a very important aspect of a lawyer’s life was also encouraged and nurtured in my academic life. I wrote some books and penned articles especially in the field of women-related issues which is a subject that is very close to my heart. In fact I have also done my doctorate from Delhi University in a woman-oriented subject. Having been actively involved in Prevention of Sexual Harassment training in various government and Private institutions and also being the external legal member of Internal Complaints Committee of various institutions, I have always been in close contact with women who have suffered at the hands of perpetrators.

Coming now to why I recommend law as a career choice, taking up law, either after school or as a post-graduate course, opens up numerous avenues for a person. Not only can you start your own practice but you can also join any company as their legal adviser. Having your own consultancy in the field of your choice or even being a facilitator for assisting other parties in completing their legal obligations-a task which is becoming more and more time consuming and back breaking in today’s world is also one of the many things that can be taken up after completing law.

Most students have also started turning to judiciary, administrative services and politics with new vigour as they feel that law as a subject equips them better for the life ahead than any other subject.

A lawyer never loses as long as he puts in his best efforts for the victory of his client. It is the trade of lawyers to question everything, yield nothing and talk by the hour. But before you are able to do that, it needs to be understood that a lot of tears, toil and tenacity goes into making a successful lawyer. Historically too, the legal profession has weathered many economic slowdowns quite well as compared to other professions and should be able to do the same in future too. In fact, some practice areas like litigation, bankruptcy and reorganisation, foreclosures and regulatory compliance have actually shown to benefit from an economic slowdown. This has resulted in a legal professional always being able to find work for himself even in times of an economic crisis. We are living in a world that views high pay, impressive schooling and social power as hallmarks of success. The legal profession has also been always regarded as a noble profession. This image is also bolstered by the portrayal of law as a glamorous profession in various daily soaps and series. As a result, the legal profession continues to hold its allure and a career in law remains the most sought after professions in today’s job market.

With the entire world becoming one big family and the physical boundaries losing all importance, more firms and corporations are crossing international borders and expanding through mergers, acquisitions, consolidation and collaboration with foreign counsel. Globalisation of law has increased the opportunities available to a law professional manifold. Law as a profession is constantly changing and evolving. Today, a legal professional needs to be a problem solver and an innovator. He must have the capacity to take up new challenges, master new technology and be a multi-tasker to master an ever-evolving legal system. At the end, I might sound partial when I say this, but it indeed is a fact:

You win some, you lose some,
But you get paid for them all!

Dr Swati Jindal Garg is an Advocate on Record, Supreme Court of India

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