By Possible Team I Jun 28, 2022
Nowadays, variety and unconventional paths have become a fad. Several career options have opened up in all fields- so for instance, if a person studies engineering, there are a plethora of options and branches to choose from, or say, medicine, where everything from psychic healing to traditional medicine is a viable option.
And the law is no exception to this phenomenon. When we say non-traditional fields as a career for law graduates, we would be talking about careers other than the tried and tested litigation, corporate law firms, and in-house legal advisors. This means that just because won have read and learned the law in law school does not mean one resigns to the prospect of arguing in court with black and white robes, even if one does not want to.
One of the less conventional careers in law is teaching and research. Part of the reason stems from the fact that students do not have a very bright picture of teaching and research prospects in India. They have seen and read about the lucrative pay packages and perks that a corporate law firm job has to offer. Alternately, many see litigation as the obvious path once their law degree is done, because, well, that’s what law graduates do, right? But this is no longer the case, and people should wake up and smell the coffee.
The first condition before considering a career in teaching is that the person should be genuinely interested in teaching as it requires a big commitment towards the institution and the students. Furthermore, the returns are not immediate, unlike a law firm job. This, therefore, calls for steely resolve and passion for the profession. In these terms, litigation is quite similar, because the progression in both these is usually gradual.
The next step is the eligibility to teach. Where one starts depends on the qualifications held by the candidate. If one has only completed a Bachelor’s degree but not the National Eligibility Test (NET), then one could be placed as a Research Assistant/Research Associate with a particular Professor. Alternately, some colleges have the option of appointing one as an Assistant Professor even without having qualified NET, and one is expected to take and clear the examination within a stipulated period. On the other hand, if one has already cleared the NET, one is more likely to be offered the position of an Assistant Professor. However, this condition is changing and soon, the compulsory requirement of NET is likely to be removed. Instead, a Ph.D. (doctorate) will be sought. In any case, once a candidate completes his/her Ph.D., the colleges/universities a candidate may apply to and be considered for a teaching position increase manifold, and the chances of success are more.
At the beginning of one’s teaching career, one should be prepared to teach whatever subjects may be handed to him/her. It is usually after a couple of years that one may start to specialize or focus on one/two papers of his/her choice. Also, one must remember that aside from teaching, one will be expected to handle some administrative work as well.
As regards the remuneration it would be wrong to say that it is much lesser than what one might get in a law firm. It is more apt to say that the remuneration and perks depending on the institution one is affiliated with. Many of the private colleges in India offer salaries that compete with some of the big and mid-size law firms. One may be allotted accommodation on-campus. One gets a chance to go to conferences in different cities and countries, network, and meet academics from the world over. There are also faculty exchange programs and one gets to teach and research in different places and learn from students there as well.
One more way to increase one’s credentials as a teacher and academic is to undertake research and write and publish papers. This also helps rejuvenate one’s knowledge as well as disseminate new ideas to others.
All in all, teaching can be looked at as a viable option.
Work as a legal aid volunteer/lawyer for government agencies
The law is a potent weapon and can help resolve disputes as well as bring about a positive change in the world when the big picture is looked at. Several modern wave movements such as the fight for preservation and conservation of the environment or women’s rights were strengthened because of the law or the fight for a law to curb the injustice that was being perpetrated. These movements and changes on a day-to-day basis are brought about by organizations and people working on petitions, letters, and PILs to bring forth issues and plausible solutions at appropriate fora like the courts and the authorities.
Law graduates have the option of getting involved with such organizations to contribute to a cause they are passionate about. Many organizations such as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and UNICEF employ legal advisors or require inputs from a legal perspective. The positives are the inherent job satisfaction, being associated with a reputed organization, and the experience one acquires. On the other hand, there is a possibility that one may not get salaries and perks equivalent to the conventional jobs. Also, a disclaimer is that when one steps in to work with such organizations, one should not be prejudiced with the idea of bringing in a grand change in a day. There will be several days when one is simply required to work on that one document over and over again, and one might not feel like a hero saving the day, but that is how change works. All good things come to those who wait.
Many government organizations also need lawyers. For instance, the Tele-Law Services initiative started by the Indian government requires the services of able lawyers willing to devote time and work to address grievances of vulnerable groups and other categories of citizens on nominal charges. It is a good idea to associate with these initiatives, even if one is otherwise engaged in another job. Doing pro bono work is a great opportunity for lawyers.
The bottom line is that there is no bottom line when it comes to choosing a career after law school. The traditional options are, of course, there. Besides these, new ones have emerged and are, even as we speak, emerging and growing, so that there will be no dearth of fields when one graduates.