Being a law graduate: What it takes, which college & course to choose, future prospects 

Experts and academics suggest that students undergo a self-analysis and discover their interests 
Law and what it takes to study it | (Pic: EdexLive)
Law and what it takes to study it | (Pic: EdexLive)

Law aspirants are bound to be confused — what with choosing colleges and courses, and later, a definitive career in law, given the vast number of options available, not to mention, a plethora of emerging ones! To arrive at a concrete decision, there's a need to find what interests the students the most, experts say.

Choosing your course
The first step is to decide on a law college and course for themselves. Two types of degree courses, spanning three and five years respectively, are available for students. "There is a certain amount of confusion over which one to choose. While the three-year programmes are quite recently introduced in National Law Universities (NLUs), the five-year programmes have a historical and legacy factor attached to them. Many prominent lawyers have pursued this programme and it is foundationally well-established," notes Abhineet Maurya, a student at NLU Delhi.

Professor Satyanarayan Mallick from Utkal University Law College, Odisha, explains that since five-year courses are integrated, it is generally chosen by students who have passed Class X, Xi and XII, while the three-year courses are popular among those who have completed graduation. "However, whether students choose one or the other, it doesn't affect their future prospects in any way as law has a vast scope," he says.

However, if they choose the five-year integrated programme, students have to choose between the Arts, Commerce and Science streams for graduation. Arts, or the BA-LLB course remains the most popular, experts point out. "But courses are BCom-LLB and BBA-LLB are also emerging, though not many colleges provide them as yet," Abhineet says. As for BSc-LLB, the takers, as well as colleges offering them, are fewer.

The choice, very clearly, depends on a student's interest. "It's essential for students to prioritise their interests over peer pressure or family expectations. They should remember that they are the ones who will be studying the subject for the next few years, so it's important to choose something that excites them," advises Dr V Balakista Reddy, Professor and Dean, School of Law, Mahindra University, Telangana.

Choosing your college
Based on the choice of their course, and rank obtained in the entrance test, students could decide on the colleges. The rank of the college is also important, and one can always look up the NIRF (National Institute Ranking Framework) rankings on the internet, suggests Abhineeet. "Aspirants can also talk to students or alumni of the college they have in mind, and then decide," he adds.

The qualifications of the faculty, opportunities available for research, and a law school's track record in terms of internship and job placement are also relevant factors when deciding on a college, says Professor Reddy. "Look for law schools where the faculty has expertise and active research interests in the areas of law that align with your own research goals. Many law schools have research centres, institutes, and initiatives dedicated to various legal fields. A strong network of legal professionals and successful alumni can lead to better opportunities for students," he adds.

"A college's location is also sometimes considered by students. Though almost every law school has residential facilities, some prefer nearby colleges," Abhineet specifies. Prof Reddy additionally suggests students, if possible, to visit the college campus to assess the library's quality, research facilities, technology, and other resources, and to assess the campus culture, extra-curricular activities available, and the quality of life there.

Into the law stream
Making a choice of the college and course can still seem overwhelming to some. Prof Mallick asserts that it becomes simple once the students are aware of the scope of the law. "There are multiple career options in law, and based on what they want to do in the future, students can choose their course and college," he says.

However, choosing a career is again a Herculean task. Prof Reddy suggests students undergo a self-analysis and discover what actually aligns with their ambitions. "The career path will be decided according to a student's natural incline," states Prof Faizan Mustafa, Vice-Chancellor of Chanakya National Law University, Patna.

"If someone likes to sit and adjudicate, they can become litigation lawyers; if someone likes the real courtroom action, they can become a judge; if they want to sit in the comfort of an office, they can get into a corporate," he exemplifies. But each profession has its own challenges, though Prof Mustafa emphasises that there are no disadvantages associated with any.

For students who prefer to decide their profession only after entering college and getting acquainted with the subject, Professor Anand Prakash Mishra, Associate Dean, Jindal Global Law School, opines that every law school should maintain an office of career services (OCS). "This will help students find their interests through robust counselling, spending time with them, building their CVs and providing internships. Internships are crucial. They enable students to work in various fields and then decide for themselves what they would like to do in the future," he said.

But in case a student does not have access to an OCS or internships from their college, Prof Mishra advises them to push their boundaries and try to secure internships themselves. "They can approach the courts and they would find lawyers willing to accommodate them as interns. They could also apply online for corporate internships," he says.

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