NOT CROSSING THE BAR
Careers 360|February 2021
There are dozens of career avenues beyond litigation that do not require a law graduate to qualify the bar exam. Many do not qualify the exam and many choose not to write it.
R. Radhika

The scope for growth and a handsome salary enticed Nidhi Pushkar* to pursue a career at a corporate law firm. A recent graduate of Government Law College, Mumbai, Pushkar chose corporate law over litigation for the massive opportunities it opens up.

“While interning in college, I did try the litigation field, but it was not something I felt passionate about. The salary in litigation is also way too low at the beginning,” explained Pushkar.

After graduating from a law college or institute, the most common career path opted for is litigation. However, law graduates are now exploring greener pastures outside the court.

For a career in litigation which involves practising in court and arguing cases, law graduates must qualify the All-India Bar Exam, or AIBE. Those who clear the exam conducted by the professional body, Bar Council of India (BCI) are awarded a “certificate of practice”. As per BCI data, 80,000 to one lakh new advocates get enrolled annually. Around 1.2 lakh had registered for the AIBE in January 2021.

The mushrooming of poor-quality law colleges means large numbers fail to qualify every year. Plus, many like Pushkar choose not to. Although AIBE holds significant value for a lawyer, there are now numerous career paths for law graduates which are not tethered to the national level qualifying exam.

Bar exam

The bar exam has itself been changed and made more difficult, say experts. “As far as Delhi is concerned, roughly 10,000 advocates get enrolled every year,” said Ajayinder Sangwan, honorary secretary, Bar Council of Delhi. “Around 60 to 70 percent advocates are able to qualify the exam in their first attempt. However, the exam has undergone changes where they do not ask direct questions but judgements. The exam pattern has been made tough to crack.” Sizeable sections fail to clear it at first attempt. During the last bar exam, testing at nine centres were cancelled due to the use of unfair means. “There are so many sub-standard colleges that have been granted recognition. Without proper infrastructure, private colleges are running a money-making business which impart low-quality legal education,” said Sangwan.

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