Some prefer to join NGO’s and leverage their legal skills to bring about social change in areas such as human rights and environmental protection. Others join international organisations such as the UN, World Bank and the WTO with a view to contributing towards world peace, conflict resolution and a more efficient framework for international trade. Yet others go on to pursue careers in research, teaching and policy advocacy, often after completing higher studies (LLM) from globally reputed institutions; a career choice made more feasible now, thanks to the fifth pay commission payouts. More recently, some appear to have been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, starting up their own businesses, such as legal process outsourcing units. Others are beginning to experiment with niche areas such as legal journalism. One might argue that the sheer range and diversity of career options thrown up by a law degree is unmatched by any other professional degree. For the law is intrinsically a multi-disciplinary endeavor and the content of law has to necessarily draw from other disciplines.
Illustratively, the criminal lawyer has to have some understanding of human psychology and forensic science, the corporate lawyer an understanding of commerce and capital, and the intellectual property lawyer, a basic understanding of science.
If not for anything else, a law degree arms one with serious advocacy skills, enabling one to argue in favor of any cause. In fact, if one were to roll back the pages of our history, one finds that many of our freedom fighters such as Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were armed with legal training, which stood them in good stead in their fight against the British. The nexus between law and political leadership continues to be a strong one to this day, with several leading politicians possessing law degrees the world over, the most notable example being Barrack Obama, the President of the United Sates of America.
Potential entrants to the various NLU’s are selected via an entrance exam, CLAT (common law admission test) which tests students on their levels of English comprehension, their capacity for logical and legal reasoning, elementary mathematics and their awareness of current affairs. Last year, approximately 40,000 candidates appeared for the CLAT exam, of which only 1,200 or so were selected for admission to the various NLUs. This highly competitive filter ensures that the very best and brightest of applicants are selected. Little wonder then that the reputation of the NLU’s, has much more to do with their student quality and less with infrastructure and faculty quality.
Given the rising importance of lawyers in today’s global economy and the metamorphosis in perception, it is not surprising that law now is coming to be a first choice for many high school students. In fact, the reputation of Indian law graduates has crossed seven seas, with the result that international lawfirms and global consultancies such as McKinsey are flocking in large numbers to India to recruit directly for their London and Paris offices.