Law School Recruitments 2014: 33% opt for law firms, less than 10% choose litigation
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Law School Recruitments 2014: 33% opt for law firms, less than 10% choose litigation

Anuj Agrawal

In this piece we analyse this year’s recruitment statistics from nine of the country’s law schools namely – NLSIU (Bangalore), NALSAR (Hyderabad), NUJS (Kolkata), NLIU (Bhopal), NLU (Delhi), NLU (Jodhpur), RMLNLU (Lucknow), NUALS (Kochi) and Army Institute of Law (AIL), Mohali.

Although corporate law firms continue to dominate the recruitment scene (the choice for more than a third of law graduates), the civil services are also becoming one of the more popular options.

In May this year, roughly eight hundred students graduated from the nine institutes mentioned above, out of which we have confirmed statistics for five hundred and fifty-six. Out of these 566 students, as many as 202 landed law firm jobs, 71 were placed as in-house counsels for corporates, a mere 35 opted for litigation, with 23 students choosing to join NGOs or focus on policy work.

Out of the remaining students, 60 decided to pursue higher studies while the rest, a staggering 111 students, have chosen to prepare for civil services and judiciary exams.

Law School Recruitments 2014: 33% opt for law firms, less than 10% choose litigation

Of course, it is also important to keep in mind that this study encapsulates less than six hundred students out of the fifteen hundred or so that graduate from different national law universities every year.

Furthermore, this number itself becomes an insignificant one if you take into account that there are more than eight hundred recognised law schools in the country, churning out more than seventy-thousand law graduates a year.

Indian Law Firms

It comes as no surprise that the majority of law school graduates (35.7%) have opted for jobs in different corporate law firms, a trend that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Firms like Amarchand Mangaldas and Luthra & Luthra have hired heavily this year, with the top six recruiters accounting for 117 out of the 202 law firm hires. To put that in perspective, that is a staggering 57.9% of all students who opted to join a corporate law firm.

The details of the top 5 recruiters are given below:

Law School Recruitments 2014: 33% opt for law firms, less than 10% choose litigation

So what exactly is it that draws law graduates to these firms? Well, the most oft cited one is the salary, with some firms offering packages as high as 14 lacs per annum (including bonuses). For someone who has to pay off an educational loan, or is hoping to fund an LL.M. abroad, such salaries can be too hard to resist. However, it would be inaccurate to say that it is the salary alone that law graduates find so attractive. There are other reasons. For instance, there are those who find the work they do to be genuinely interesting, and there are also those who opted to join because they did not know what else to do. And although this is outside the scope of review, it would be interesting to see what are the attrition rates at these firms, especially for the first three years.

In-house counsel

The third most preferred option, that of an in-house counsel, is perhaps the one that is likely to see the most amount of change in the years to come. In fact, the role of in-house counsel itself has seen a massive change over the last decade or so. Once considered to be more of an in between the management and a law firm, and consisting of a small team, in-house law departments have substantially increased their size and quantum of work. With more and more companies opting to invest in their own legal team, and decreasing their dependence on outside counsel, in-house could very well be the next high-growth sector in the legal industry. The salaries that are being offered, comparable or even more than law firms, could be another reason why this will become a preferred career option in the years to come.

The details of the top 5 recruiters are given below:

Law School Recruitments 2014: 33% opt for law firms, less than 10% choose litigation

This year though, most of these organisations weren’t very active in hiring from law schools with ICICI Bank, Cipla and WIPRO the leading hirers, with 10, 7 and 5 recruitments respectively.

LPOs

The fifth most popular career option, 6.71% of law graduates have opted to work for organizations like Pangea 3, Quislex and OSC. The LPO industry in India has been a mixed bag of sorts, with several large companies unable to crack the market despite heavy investments. Currently Pangea3,  a company that was acquired by Thomson Reuters a while back, remains the biggest recruiter, picking up two-thirds of all recruits in the sector.

The details of the top 3 recruiters are given below:

Law School Recruitments 2014: 33% opt for law firms, less than 10% choose litigation

Litigation

One of the more common criticisms of the national law school model is that most law graduates choose to stay away from litigation. And if you look at the figures, this criticism is not completely unfounded with a meager 6.18% (35 students) opting to become litigating lawyers in various courts across the country. This may not be the most encouraging figures but when viewed as a percentage of batch size, these numbers do reveal a slightly different picture. For instance, at NLSIU, 12.5% opted for litigation, at three others the figure was close to 10%, not an inconsiderable number.

Law School Recruitments 2014: 33% opt for law firms, less than 10% choose litigation

NGOs, Academic Research etc

4.59% of the graduates have taken up alternative legal careers, working in NGOs, legal management and support organizations, research institutes, and even publishing houses. This statistic proves that a legal education can give you innumerable options once you graduate.

The details of the top 3 recruiters are given below:

Law School Recruitments 2014: 33% opt for law firms, less than 10% choose litigation

Judiciary & Civil Service Exams

Perhaps the most surprising statistic among the sea of numbers given above is that relating to the civil services. A staggering 19.61% of students have opted to serve their country by working for administrative and judicial setups all over India. This serves as food for thought to those who complained about the prevalent elitism of Indian law schools in recent times.

Higher Studies

If there is one figure that ought to be getting more attention that it currently does, it would be the number of students who opt for higher studies. As mentioned earlier, around 10.6% (nearly 60) of the graduates have decided to pursue higher studies in universities in India and abroad, making a masters course more popular than litigation, LPOs, and NGOs, and only slightly less popular than in-house counsel.

Corrigendum: This article originally mentioned incorrect salaries at Luthra & Luthra, and Cipla. The errors stands corrected. 

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