This article is written by Aarlin Moncy, from HILSR, School of Law, Jamia Hamdard. This article will give you an idea about competition law, whether it is a good choice as a career to work abroad or not?
Table of Contents
What is competition law?
- The purpose of this law is to promote fair competition and prohibit unfair trade practices in the domestic as well as in the global market. In the Indian domain, this is governed by the Competition Act, 2002.
- This law was primarily enacted to protect the interests of consumers and businesses in the Indian market against discriminatory prices, monopolies, abuse of dominance, cartels and many other ways of unfair trade practices which adversely affects the economy.
- The aim of this article is to guide you about competition law, whether it is a promising field to practice and most importantly, will it help you to practice outside India. To answer all these questions, it is important to understand why competition law is a ray of hope.
- The reason for that is, the competition law is directly connected to the market as it studies markets through economics and law, and as we know that since 1991, right after the LPG (Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation), the Indian market no longer remained as a closed economy and only through this reform, the Indian market got connected with the rest of the world’s economy and which makes the entire population interact in the same market.
Well, it is absolutely great that now the entire world can trade together in the same market but it brings even more risk now to the consumers as well as to all the businesses who are investing in this market, and only for this purpose we have a law in each country to govern as well as to maintain a balance and to keep a check regarding the fair competition which must be promoted both domestically and globally.
To maintain a capitalistic economy from becoming exploitative for the whole market, this is exactly why competition law is important in order to maintain a free and fair market for the people.
What does a competition lawyer do?
A competition lawyer just like any other lawyer has to give legal advice and protect the interest of his/her client(s) regarding mergers-acquisition, anti-competitive agreements, cartels, abuse of dominance, policies, agreements relating to enterprises and by making their case free from allegations relating to anti-competitive and malpractices. A competition lawyer has to study the entire market and the said transaction in order to come to a conclusion regarding such allegations. He/she has to do proper investigation and then analyse the events in order to have a better picture about the transaction. It is imperative for budding lawyers to have analytical skills and a basic understanding of economics if they want to practice as a competition lawyer independently or in a law firm.
Importance of this field and job opportunities
To answer this, lawyers, in general, are very important in society, there is no particular reason as to why only this field of law is important, every field of law has its own importance. But as a matter of fact, why competition lawyers are in huge demand and why there is a hike in the job opportunities not only domestically rather globally particularly for this field of law is because:
- There are very few people out there with both experience and knowledge about this field, as this is an emerging field in law and particularly in India, we don’t have much content and literature available for this field and even the Indian law universities and colleges do not have any course with a specialization in this field of law.
- This is one of the reasons why Indian students have to travel abroad for LLM specifically in competition law. In India very few law schools have competition law as a subject in the undergrad courses.
- Because of this reason, online education has helped and delivered outstanding courses on competition law for both law students and non-law students.
- Since the enactment of the Competition Act in 2002, earlier our country had MRTP Act, 1969 (Monopolies and Trade Restrictive Practices Act) which was later repealed due to being declared as incompetent in relation to the present form of economy.
- Since then, every enterprise started to develop an interest in this field of law, as the penalties were increased and the law was made even stricter than anytime before.
- This created a demand for both competition lawyers domestically and globally.
- Since most of the enterprises deal in a huge amount of transactions to carry out their businesses, hence the stake is always high in competition law matters, this is the reason why competition lawyers are paid really high as compared to any of the lawyers working in some other field.
- It is a competition lawyer’s duty and sole responsibility to study the entire market, and give his/her client(s) both advice, form policies, agreement and to make sure that the enterprise complies with all the competition regulations.
Prerequisites and Eligibility
The prerequisites or you can say the eligibility criteria for anyone to enter into this emerging and promising field both financially and with respect to not limiting or restricting a person from practising only in one jurisdiction/ territory is, of course, to have:-
- A bachelor’s degree in law (LL.B) either from India or a JD/LL.B from abroad.
- Must have an interest in both economics and law.
- Must have multiple publications relating to this field.
- Should have done at least some moots focusing on this field or any other non-academic participation which is directly related to this field.
- He/she can do online courses or certification courses available online in order to enhance both knowledge and skills.
- Internships under competition lawyers, or firms or under any think tanks focusing their work in competition law will also help an individual to gain practical knowledge about the subject.
- Must have relevant skills and prior experience in this field.
- An LLM in competition law is absolutely a plus point.
These are the basic and the initial criteria for a person to apply at a firm’s competition law team or even to practice under a senior competition counsel. A few years dedicated genuinely to this field will definitely help a person to not only build clients but will open multiple doors and opportunities relating to competition law both domestically and internationally.
How to work abroad as a competition lawyer?
Now we have arrived at the final question, as to:
- How to practice as a competition lawyer outside India?
- Is it possible to practice abroad even if you have an Indian law degree?
- And, why do people prefer working abroad?
The answer to all these questions is very interesting. Yes, a person can practice abroad with an Indian law degree but there are certain challenges to face first. The obvious question would be, why should an international law firm hire an Indian law grad:
- Let’s say you have over 10+ years of experience in competition law or you have worked at the Competition Commission of India or maybe you were appointed as a public officer or government representative in any competition law panel. Then, you have a high chance to score an international job.
- Every recruiter will only see one thing always, and that’s your experience in the field. If you have passed this phase, you have a great chance to get an offer to work abroad.
- Now, why do people prefer working abroad? The simple reason behind this is, the salary and the living standards are really above your expectations.
- Lawyering as a profession is considered to be one of the highest paying jobs in the U.S, Canada, U.K and EU.
- This means, in the majority of the countries, the pay scale is above the Indian pay scale but the only challenge is to have a better experience of this field and have more knowledge and skills as compared to the other domestic lawyers working in these countries.
- The other way to work abroad while having an Indian law degree is to have an LLM or pursue LLM specialised in competition law from either the U.K, EU, USA, or Canada as these mentioned countries have the best LLMs as compared from the rest of the world, and can give your career a good shift and definitely a hike in your present remuneration.
- International law firms usually prefer students having LLM in competition law from these international institutions as there isn’t much difference in the competition law worldwide, the only difference is the working of the market in each country.
Therefore, from all the sources available and from the current market trend, both competition law as a subject and as a career option is suitable for all the budding lawyers, if they want to work abroad and not limit their practice in India. This field is both financially promising and gives recognition to an individual’s work too. If an individual, right from his/her early law school years, works under a competition lawyer or a team, and or even enrols for a course relating to competition law as there are many wonderful competition law courses drafted for law students and non-law students, down the line, with proper experience and skills acquired from all these platforms will definitely help the individual in securing and grabbing more opportunities in the near future.
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