Thursday, March 24, 2011

AIBE : More Grist to the LPO Mill?

The Bar Council of India has introduced the All India Bar Examination, as, among other things, a “test of an advocate’s ability to practice the profession of law in India.”

The first All India Bar Exam results are now out.   71% of the 22000 law graduates who appeared cleared the exam which effectively means there are about 16000 freshers looking for options.

Law college freshers in India have the following options:
1. Court practice.
2. Conveyancing.
3. Notary work.
4. Working with a law firm.
5. Joining a corporate office.
6. LPO firms.
Except for OPTION 6 all other options available to freshers in law require AIBE certification.
Court Practice: Most law graduates dream of donning a black coat, standing up in court and “Milord-ing” it grandly. The AIBE is compulsory for those who wish to practice law AND have graduated law after 2009-2010. Therefore unless he passes the AIBE, a fresher cannot sign his name to a vakalatnama, put in an appearance in Court in any matter, or sign a legal document as a lawyer.
Whatever else the AIBE may prepare one for however, it will not prepare the fresher for court practice. Few freshers would dare breach the portals of court rooms without the reassuring coat-tail of a senior advocate to hang upon. Law courts in India are vast terrifying mazes of rooms, corridors, and crowds of advocates and litigants milling about rubbing shoulders with bored policemen dragging strings of sleazy looking under trials. It takes a year or so for most freshers just to find their way around, more to have even a single brief in hand. Many, particularly women never get over their first taste of court life.
Working for a senior advocate is the easiest way to begin court practice. Many freshers do their “junior-ship” with senior advocates and some remain “juniors” well into retirement age. Although most seniors pay a pittance and rarely allow their “juniors” to do more than perhaps file an application on their behalf in court or occasionally argue minor matters but with the senior aging, juniors often manage a decent practice although still under the senior’s umbrella.

Conveyance Practice:
In the last decade, many wise lawyers have concentrated solely on conveyance law. Drafting property sales and lease documents, registering deeds, is always a very lucrative occupation no matter what the state of the estate market.

Some lawyers manage to wangle a notary license which believe me, requires a lot of political clout. A license to notarize allows lawyers to sell court fee stamps and to stamp and notarize documents for a fee. These lawyers may of course continue a court practice but that often means they lose out on clients who need their notarization services and many prefer to concentrate on just being notaries, which after all guarantees a sure fee.


Law firms and corporate offices:
Many bright freshers who are unable to stomach the heat and dust of Indian courts prefer the sophisticated ambience of corporate offices or law firms. Few of them will ever see the inside of a court room, working as they do mainly in the back offices but corporates pay well.

The wisest are those who join legal process outsourcing companies. (LPOs) All you need is a law degree. No appearing or waiting for an AIBE certificate. Moreover, most LPOs do not mind their employees practicing in Courts as well. Many LPO employees have their “sanads” (license to practice in Court) practicing as and when time permits thus having their cake and eating it too.

My earlier posts have discussed the type of work you can do in an LPO and what else you need to get into an LPO