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Bar & Bench looks at career paths of the three ‘National’ law universities that were established; NLSIU, NALSAR, and NUJS. Whether the paths chosen by these young graduates have achieved the objectives of Bar Council of India and Government? Are these new career paths reflections of the new India? Should law graduates only join the Bar? Corporate law firms on a rampage to acquire talent?
Recruitment time in law schools is always a time for speculation as to who amongst the class is going to bag the top slots and a top-paying job.
The salary structures that are offered each year to the graduating class has often been a hotly discussed topic. A few national law firms offer up to Rs. 13.5 lakhs ($ 30,000) per year plus a very large bonus. Many are of the opinion that large pay packages often lure young graduates to choose corporate law firms and in-house roles over the litigation practice. But when senior counsels balk at the thought of paying more than a pittance to young law graduates looking to make a mark in the legal arena, can one blame law students for taking up comfortable and well paying corporate law firm offers?
Bar & Bench looks at career paths of the three ‘National’ law universities that were established; NLSIU, Bangalore; NALSAR, Hyderabad and NUJS, Kolkata (Three NLUs). Whether the paths chosen by these young graduates have achieved the objectives of Bar Council of India and Government? Are these new career paths reflections of the new India? Should law graduates only join the Bar? Corporate law firms on a rampage to acquire talent?
This is an ongoing exercise and we will bring you the career paths of the other NLUs, top law schools of India and regional law universities.
The total number of students from the graduating class of 2010 in the Three NLUs was 244. Out of this nearly 78 percent, i.e. 191 graduates opted for law school organized campus recruitment. Various Law Firms in India, Foreign Law Firms, Companies, LPOs and NGOs participate in this campus recruitment process. Some students also select jobs outside the campus recruitment process.
ï»¿ï»¿*The results of judicial clerkship were not available at the time of publication. 11 students have applied for judicial clerkship.
** Includes graduates who are yet to choose on a career option or graduates who are still in the process of finding a suitable job.
National Law Firms:
With 91 out of a total 244 students, 37.7% of the graduating class chose jobs at law firms. The offers were rolled out to students a year early as most recruitment process of law firms started nearly a year and half ago.The top three firms of Amarchand, Luthra and AZB have offered similar compensation packages and also performance related bonus.
The compensation package is supposed to have a fixed component of 80 percent , Rs. 9,60,000 ($21,300) and variable component of 20 percent i.e. Rs. 2,40,000 ($ 5,300), which will be subject to performance. There are some unconfirmed reports that there may be additional bonus dependent on performance for these students, but we were unable to confirm these reports from receptive law firms at the time of publication.
Some of the national firms like Khaitan & Co, ALMT Legal, Bharucha & Partners, Desai Diwanji do not figure in the list of recruiters for 2009-2010.
A total of 20.4% of the graduating class have chosen to become in-house legal counsels. ICICI leads the figures with 10 recruitments this year. Interestingly IT companies such as Infosys and Wipro along with the Big 4 accounting companies like KPMG, E&Y, PwC and Deloitte do not figure anywhere in the list of recruitments this year.
Newer companies and industries have started to tap the talent pool. Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions, microfinance company IFMR figured in the list of recruiters this year. A noticeable trend is the aggression of Public Sector Units (PSUs) who have hired 18 recruits. Consumer Products & Services company Marico has offered one of the best compensation packages amongst companies.
Despite the Bar Council’s intentions of encouraging more law graduates to take up litigation as a profession, the trend over the last few years especially among the top law colleges in the country have always favoured corporate law firms.
Does this mean that the intention with which the Three NLUs were set up has failed? After all litigation as a career has been seen by many as not the ideal career path. A litigating career is filled with miserably low pay scales and very long working hours. A meagre 9.8 percent of the graduating class chose litigation practice as a career choice.
* City wise figures were not available for NALSAR.
Annual pay packages at litigation offices range between Rs. 1,50,000 ($3,330) to Rs. 4,80,000 ($10,600). This pay package has not been confirmed by the recruitment committee of the Three NLUs but has been compiled after speaking to a few candidates who chose litigation practice.
This year 6.5 percent of the graduating class were offered training contracts with Clifford Chance being the top recruiter with 4 graduates. Allen & Overy, Linklaters and Herbert Smith follow with 3 graduates this year. The compensation package for trainee solicitors was uniform with most law firms offering compensation packages between Rs. 25 Lakhs (£36,000) – Rs. 26.6 Lakhs (£38,000). Although in terms of rupees, the package offered by the foreign law firms is higher, the reality is far from this. With London’s newly introduced VAT charges of 20 percent and exorbitant housing costs, this compensation structure is supposed to provide associates with very minimum flexibility to plan their finances.
Not everyone opts for campus recruitment. Every year a few graduates decide to pursue Masters and opt for studies abroad in top law schools like Harvard, Oxford, Columbia etc. This year too, nearly 10 percent of students choose the Masters route and decided the following schools.
Only 6.5% of the total number of graduating students has opted for paths, which differ from the usual law firm, or company options and have chosen to sit for the civil services exams or take up NGO jobs.
Teach for India’s annual package is at Rs. 2.7 lakhs ($ 5,900) per year. LPOs offer anywhere between Rs. 3.6 lakhs ($8,000) to Rs. 6 lakhs ($13,300). However the recruitment committee has not confirmed the LPO compensation package to the graduating class.
The only competition that national law firms can face is the increasing number of companies that look to recruit every year. Good pay scales, regulated working hours, a chance to work with the business community are just some of the attractive factors. The naysayers can take heart that there has been an increasing number of law graduates who opt for public or government companies who might not pay as well as private companies but offer job security like no other. In times of economic uncertainties, job security can be seen by some as the prime factor.
This is an ongoing exercise and we will bring you the career paths of the other NLUs, top law schools of India and regional law universities. Law school recruitment committees can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at +91 9686602650.