Law: A Beginner's Guide

Law is defined as “the system of rules, which a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members; and which it may enforce by the imposition of penalties”. The study of law deals with the values, practices, and institutions of law and legality. Today, the study is interdisciplinary; and the curriculum is designed to help understand how the law has shaped and evolved; and what all factors (political, economic, cultural) have influenced the same.

The roots of the current system of legal education can be traced back to the pre-independence era. Many of our freedom fighters, including Mahatma Gandhi and Jawahar Lal Nehru, were law graduates. Even the Mughals had the concept of legal representatives!

Earlier, law courses were a three-year program one could pursue after graduation. However, with the introduction of the five-year integrated programs in law- after the establishment of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) at Bengaluru- how the law was taught in the country changed. Alongside, there was a change in scope for many.

Today, young law graduates are seen not only walking the corridors of courts but also advising corporates on day-to-day functions, donning the hat of legal correspondents, and much more.

Career Avenues for Law Graduates

Gone are the days when law graduates would be holding case files for a senior lawyer, while slogging 12-13 hours a day, learning the trade. The current crop of law graduates are not only counseling corporates on complex issues but are also occupying offices of the government (Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary). A law degree opens the door to a wide variety of careers.


Litigation is the traditional career path for most law graduates. Considered to be a high-risk, high-reward area by many, litigation to most sounds an alarm bell. The reason is fairly simple: it takes years to be an established lawyer, and the start is not often financially rewarding. But, with determination and patience, one can attain heights.

With the prolonged economic slowdown and shrinking profits, corporates are now getting more and more combative; and are taking every step necessary to protect their interests. As a result, legal recourse is on the rise; creating more and more opportunities for young graduates.

Corporate Counsel:

Be it working in swanky law firms, or matching the steps with corporate managers, lawyers today have created a niche in the business world. From counseling clients to drafting & vetting contracts, or advising on mergers and acquisitions, and corporate governance, a young lawyer is very much an integral part of the business world.


One of the most respected professions in the country, the judiciary offers an opportunity to work for justice. A law graduate can appear for the Judicial Services Exam conducted by states; and upon qualifying, become Judicial Magistrates. One can also opt for the position of Judicial Clerkship in courts.

Civil Services:

Be it State Civil Services or Union Civil Services; law graduates have a definite advantage. The evolved exam structure, which tests the knowledge of Indian Polity, gives them an edge. No wonder then, the number of law graduates cracking these exams is on the rise.

Defense Services:

The Judge Advocate General (JAG) Department is the legal department of the three services: Army, Navy, and Air Force. The Judge Advocate’s primary role is to deliver independent, operationally-focused, solution-oriented legal advice and services across the full spectrum of respective laws.
Academia: The ever-rising number of law schools is providing opportunities for young law graduates to pursue their area of interest in teaching.
Non-Governmental Organizations: Law graduates are equally equipped to handle social work, as they are aware of the legal rightsof all social strata. They have the option of working with NGOs, the National Human Rights Commission, the National Commission for Women, etc.
Legal Process Outsourcing: LPOs include a vast range of services, such as research, drafting, vetting, etc. With India continuing to be a major player in the world of outsourcing, LPOs are avenues for high-paying jobs.
Note: This is not an exhaustive list. A law degree can open a lot many doors to career opportunities.

Law: General Perceptions vs Ground Realities


Law is most sought after by students of Humanities


More than 40% of law school aspirants are from Science background. 60% of the NLSIU batch of 2013-18 comprised Science students.
Perception: Study of law is preferred by male students.

Reality: Like other avenues, even law has witnessed a considerable shift. Today, in many law schools, you will find an equal male-female ratio. To ensure a good mix, many law schools, including some of the top National Law Universities, have reserved 30% of their seats for female aspirants.

Best Law Schools:
While new law schools are being established almost every year, some of these stand out from the crowd. Currently, there are 22 operational National Law Universities, along with some good private colleges, like Jindal Global Law School, Symbiosis Law Schools, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, etc., as well as government colleges, like GLC Mumbai, ILS Pune, etc.
To know more about the best law schools in India, visit:

Placements Nonpareil
Students from the top law schools do not need to go job hunting. Instead, opportunities come looking for them. Every year, the best law firms in the country, not to mention top corporate houses, set placement targets for their HR teams to ensure they do not miss out on the best talents in the country.

So, prepare well for law entrance exams; and ensure you get through to a good law school.

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