Every year, thousands of law students graduate from law schools across the country with a dream to excel in the legal domain. Having an independent legal practice is beneficial for a lawyer as it provides the required flexibility to a lawyer to discover their expertise. The lawyer is able to take up cases in accordance with their preferred field of law, an option not available while working for a law firm or as in-house legal counsel of a company.
A solo legal practice also gives control over the decisions relating to the business, required to be made by a lawyer. Being one of the largest and the oldest professions in the world, the Indian Legal Profession has been enrolled with more than 1.4 million advocates across the country. In order to practice law as an advocate or barrister or solicitor, the legal professional should be enrolled with the Bar Council of India.
The Legislation/ Body Governing Indian Lawyers in India
The Advocates Act, 1961
The Advocates Act, 1961 is an autonomous act of law that governs and empowers the legal profession in India. Extending across the country, the Advocates Act, 1961 is passed by the Parliament, of India, providing the laws for legal practitioners and the constitution of the Bar Council of India as well as state bar councils. The act reserves the rights of legal enrolment, professional ethics, admission, practice, discipline, education, regulations, improvisations, and law reforms, etc, for legal professionals namely, Indian Lawyer and advocates practicing in India.
The Bar Council of India
Holding, an essential position in the Indian Judiciary System, the Bar Council of India is a legal body representing and regulating the Indian Bar. The Bar Council of India Act, 1926 unites different grades of legal practicing and enables different court bars to function as a self- governing body or entity. The Bar Council of India is responsible for planning, prescribing and implementing issues with respect to legal education, professional conduct, and qualification measures for legal enrolment, legal ethics, professional control and disciplinary jurisdiction above the bar. The act majorly reserves the rights for enrolment of legal professionals for practicing law as Advocates in Indian Court. The Bar Council of India also keeps the stake in granting recognition to only those law universities whose students’ qualifications will be accepted in the eyes of the Indian Judicial System.
The requirements for registering as a lawyer under the Indian Bar.
In order to practice law in India, an ‘advocate’ or a ‘lawyer’ is mandated to fully comply with all the provisions mentioned under the act. In order to register as a lawyer in India, the following requirements of the State Bar Councils are also to be duly complied with:
- The Law Graduate should be an Indian Citizen.
- Must have completed 21 years of age.
- Must have obtained a degree in Law from a university of law school recognized by the Bar Council of India or
- Secured a foreign qualification in law which is duly acknowledged by the Bar Council of India in order to be accepted as a ‘lawyer’ under the India bar.
Steps to Practice Law 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.
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.
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.
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 practicing, or you can continue with studies. You can opt for an LLM course to get in-depth knowledge in your area of interest.
Step 4: Choosing the Field of Interest
After this, chose your field of interest, whether you want to do criminal cases or matrimonial or property matters, tax matters, corporate work, etc.
Step 5: Finding a Mentor
After getting enrolled, first look for a Guru, a good lawyer that can help you learn the basics of the practical side of the law which no book or law college can teach you. Remember, it is the most crucial stage and your primary focus at this stage should be on learning and not on making money.
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 practicing alone. Depending on your chosen area of specialization, 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 ample 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.
Overall, the job prospects for a lawyer is quite broad, and with the right attitude and skill set, you can have a prosperous career. Being a productive lawyer, does not require you to always work from the office because you can now still manage your practice effectively through a legal practice management software.