The pathway to becoming a lawyer

Legal Education: Manjunatha N G writes about the scope for law graduates, while also explaining the law courses and their structures

The pathway to becoming a lawyer
Legal profession has emerged as a sought-after career in recent times. With diversified career avenues, there is a greater demand for legal education.

The first step towards having a successful legal career would be to equip oneself with the skills needed through formal legal education. Law courses not only create law abiding citizens, but also produce brilliant academicians, visionary judges and lawyers.

The Bar Council of India (BCI) regulates legal education in India. To be eligible to practice law in the country, one needs to be a law graduate from a college recognised by the BCI and then take the All India Bar Exam (AIBE).

Varied subjects

The Bachelor of Laws or LLB is an undergraduate degree in India. Legal education is a traditional three-year LLB course after  graduation or a five-year integrated course right after Class 12.

Generally, the courses are conducted in a semester or trimester structure. Some of the subjects are classified as compulsory by the Bar Council of India. These include subjects such as Jurisprudence, Law of crimes (penal code and criminal procedure code), Constitutional laws, Administrative law, Company law, Public International law, Principles of Taxation law and  Environmental law.

Labour and Industrial law(. Many subjects are optional and can be taken by the students depending on their preferences. These subjects may be offered as a specialisation. International trade law and  Crime and criminology are some of the optional subjects offered.

In the initial two years of the five-year integrated course, Arts, Science or Business subjects are taught along with legal subjects. For example, if a student is pursuing BA-LLB, subjects such as Political Science and Sociology are taught alongside legal subjects such as Law of Torts and Law on Contracts.

The first semester of BBA-LLB course has subjects like Principles of Management, Financial Accounting, Business Economics, Law of Torts, Law of Contracts, etc. While course structure, classes and teaching methods vary from college to college, the syllabus is regulated by the BCI.

Practical exposure

To teach students the practical niceties of law and to ensure that they evolve into responsible lawyers, the BCI mandates some practical exercises in the curriculum. These include exercises, and classes on drafting, pleading and conveyance, professional ethics and professional accounting system, compulsory Moot Courts, observance of trial in two cases (civil and criminal), etc.

Teaching in law colleges usually happens through the ‘lecture method’. Some professors might also use the Socratic method of teaching. Every law college requires the students to work on research projects, both individually and as a team. Some subjects might have an internal Moot Court competition instead of a research project.

In January 2013, the University Grants Commission (UGC) introduced one-year Master of Laws (LLM) programme. Earlier, the programme was spread over two years. The one-year LLM programme meant more number of law graduates pursuing higher education, and more number of qualified professionals.

There is a plethora of opportunities available for a law graduate. One can consider working as a Criminal Lawyer, Civil Litigation, Legal Analyst, Legal Advisor, a Judge, a Corporate Lawyer and even as a journalist.

(The author is assistant professor, Vidyodaya Law College, Tumakuru)

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