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What do Mukul Rohatgi, Arun Jaitley, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Ram Jethmalani have in common?

They set a clear goal in the beginning to pursue law as a career, said Ish Bali, General Counsel, Apeejay Education

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You should pick law out of choice not out of compulsion, said Bali in a webinar on Law as a Profession & Career Opportunities, organised by the School of Legal Studies, Apeejay Stya University (ASU), Gurugram. Bali, who has around 30 years of experience in the field of law, said the scope of law as a career is immense in India. It’s not just limited to practicing in courts, there are numerous opportunities in corporate houses, law firms, administrative services and the like.

“Legal profession has opened up multiple avenues for a LLB graduate. You can go for civil services, get into judiciary, start your own practice, join a law firm or the United Nations, go to academics or join the corporate world and be an in-house counsel. The opportunities are endless,” remarked Bali.

“Becoming a lawyer for the UN requires a lot of effort. If you want to work in the UN, especially as a Human Rights Lawyer, it’s best to gain valuable experience doing field work,” advised Bali.

According to Bali, budding lawyers must be aware of their strengths. “If somebody is not a good orator, but has excellent writing or analytical skills, there’s no point in getting into the corporate world or getting into litigation. It’s better if you enter the judiciary. Somebody who speaks well and can interpret a law in 10 different ways then you could be a very good litigator. Somebody who has great interpersonal skills and gels well with other people can either join a law firm or become an in-house counsel.  That said, your subject knowledge should be reasonably good. Choose a field in which you can excel,” said Bali.

To drive his point home, Bali listed the example of India’s most prominent lawyers. “Prominent lawyers such as Mukul Rohatgi, Arun Jaitley, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Ram Jethmalani were clear at an early age as to what they wanted to do and chose the field accordingly. Even judges like current Chief Justice of India N. V. Ramana and former Chief Justices SA Bobde and Yeshwant Vishnu Chandrachud identified early in their life that they are ones who will shape the country. They followed their dream and did what they’re good at.”

Bali opined that those aspiring to be an in-house counsel or an outside counsel must have a sound knowledge of criminal laws. “Suppose a non-bailable warrant is issued against the CEO of your company, which is quite common these days, then you need to have a basic knowledge of criminal law, so that when you engage a criminal lawyer you are not made a fool of. People will say get the anticipatory bail, but you should know whether or not to file an anticipatory bail. What are the repercussions if an anticipatory bail gets rejected? Has the police called your CEO or not? You have to think through these questions.”

Bali said with great experience in the legal field, if you do not compromise on your integrity, ethics and morals, you will flourish in the long run. Amit Singh, Associate Professor of Law, School of Legal Studies, ASU moderated the session on behalf of the School. Other Panellists during the session were Tulip S, Anuranjan Sharma, Aditya Mishra. 

“If you want to be an in-house counsel make sure that you get at least 3-5 years of experience in Procedural law while practicing in courts. Then you will get hand-picked by any corporation, whereas if you go directly into the corporate world after graduation then you will have all the bookish knowledge but zero knowledge of procedural law. You will get stuck. Don’t make impulsive decisions based on money.”

-Ish Bali, General Counsel, Apeejay Education

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]

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