practice area best-suited for a lawyer.

Mario Puzo rightly said A lawyer with a briefcase can steal, more worth than thousand men with guns. There is a little twist to the above quote, A lawyer with a briefcase can only steal more than a thousand men with guns provided the language inside that briefcase is heavier than the bullets in the gun. Deciding which practice area is best-suited for a lawyer is a difficult choice. Let us understand how to find the  How to find the practice area best-suited for a lawyer.

factors which one keeps in mind while deciding a practice area are,

  • Prestige involved in the field,
  • Personality and Work Style – Knowing Yourself and your work,
  • Future Geographic Considerations – Where Do You Want to Live? What Will Work for You and Your Family? And,
  • Financial stability.

How to find the practice area best-suited for a lawyer

Till about twenty years ago, law as a career option was not much of a choice and was more or less at the bottom of the choices available to a person thinking of a career. Today, the position is different. Today, a career in law is a very attractive proposition, so much so that an entrance test has had to be introduced for the purpose of admission into the law colleges and universities. Why is this so and what has caused such a change in attitude so that a career in law today is considered by many to be a better choice than a career in engineering or medicine?

One of the main reasons for the change in attitude are the vast opportunities that are now available in a law career on account of technological advances and the shrinking and blurring of boundaries of trade and commerce. Commerce has become global and with such globalization, trade agreements at an international level among international players have become common. With information exchange possible within minutes, commercial contracts and agreements are reached quickly without the parties or their lawyers having to undertake long travel.

Gone are the days when the practice of law was confined to a regular courtroom for the redress of grievances at different hierarchical levels. Formerly, among the major statutes broadly governing civil society were the Transfer of Property Act, the Code of Civil Procedure, the Evidence Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Succession Act, the Specific Relief Act, General Clauses Act, etc.

The present generation of laws involves varied areas of specialization. Tax laws, labour laws, laws relating to co-operative societies and consumer protection — these are some of the areas of diversification and specialization, which have been compartmentalized and are dealt with differently.

Then there are the various Tribunals. Ever since the introduction of Articles 323A and 323B in the Constitution by the 42nd Constitutional amendment, in addition to the Courts, various statutory Tribunals have been established, each dealing with different subjects and having their own sets of advocates and Bar Associations. There are Industrial Tribunals and Labour Courts, which are in existence from before the 42nd Amendment, Income Tax and Sales Tax Tribunals, Customs and Excise Tribunals, Co-operative Tribunals, the Consumer Tribunals, Administrative Tribunals, Land Tribunals, Military Appellate Tribunal, Competition Commission, Electricity Appellate Tribunal, etc. administering the laws relevant to them, each having its own Bar Association comprising advocates having specialized knowledge of the particular subject relevant to their practice.

Mediation as an area of practice

Prestige

“Lawyers can be peacemakers, mediation is an opportunity and the horizons of legal practice are widening” and as narrated by the Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, that the “true function of a lawyer, is to unite the parties riven asunder”. In a Mediation well conducted, a sort of miracle happens. There is a resumption of a heretofore broken dialogue”. Mediation and Conciliation is one of the steps in the Alternate Disputes Redressal system, shortly known as “ADR” for speedy dispensation of justice. The Alternative System of Redressal of Disputes by mediation is a boon to the litigant public. Partition suits, matrimonial disputes, matters pertaining to Trust, etc., can be referred to mediation so that the disputes could be resolved within a reasonable time.  Section 89 of the Code of Civil Procedure made it possible for judges to refer appropriate matters to mediation and conciliation.

There might be a Rupees 10 Crore partition case in one mediation room, while in the adjoining one, will be a dispute over a two feet passage in a Slum Clearance Board Development.

Personality and Work Style – Knowing Yourself and your work

Lawyers representing clients in mediation actively promote settlement. We are tapping into a long felt need of the legal community to use their legal knowledge and experience in a different, more humane way to bring good resolution. Lawyers can be peacemakers, mediation is an opportunity not threat, and the horizons of legal practice are widening. Finding practice area best-suited for a lawyer is not that difficult. 

Future Geographic Considerations – Where Do You Want to Live? What Will Work for You and Your Family?

Mediation is not confined to the Courts. It is essentially an informal process and has much application outside the Court sector. Individual and family disputes are eminently suitable for this process. Village panchayats and resident associations can use it to settle local conflict. Companies in private and public sector, banks and insurance outfits, trade guilds and industry federations are all potential users. Religious bodies, which unfortunately see so much conflict now, will find the underlying harmony appealing. Communal clashes cannot be resolved by any method other than dialogue. Inter-State disputes such as sharing of rivers can resolved by dialogue and consensus, rather than litigation. Schools can use it to handle disputes amongst children. To learn that conflict can be resolved well, and by the disputants, is an invaluable social lesson for children, and adults too.

Mediation is strikingly different from the adversarial process. Here, it is the disputing parties who arrive at the decision which ends the dispute. The Mediator is a facilitator who opens up communication, encourages parties to look to their long-term interests, the shortcomings of their case and the lack of good alternatives to an amicable settlement. The process is completely voluntary and a party has the right to terminate the mediation at any time. It is therefore risk-free. The process also respects confidentiality. As opposed to a legal proceeding which largely excludes the litigants in the decision-making process, mediation witnesses the participation of the parties themselves even when they are accompanied by their lawyers. Again, while the litigative process works on adversarial lines, with charges and accusations being routine, mediation serves to bring out more cooperative behavior from parties. Mediation brings savings in cost and time. It salvages relationships and works to achieve sustainable solutions. Of course, many cases can only be resolved by litigation but several can be better handled by mediation.

Mediation include personal and family matters, contracts and civil disputes, property and partition suits, company petitions and arbitration cases. Most of the cases are complex ones. They involve substantial issues of fact and law to be gone into, underlying interests and solutions which do not emerge easily. There is magnitude in terms of people and money involved. For example, a company winding up matter involved claims of 430 workmen which required both overall settlement figures as well as claims of each workman to be gone into. The resolution ended a 16-year dispute and the workmen benefited by a substantial increase of the compensation.  

Financial stability

Why a lawyer may prefer mediation as a profession? It entrusts the responsibility of being in charge of the process, moving parties from dispute to settlement.  Mediation is completely a new area of practice opening up for exercise of their skills and knowledge of law. Mediation is often beneficial than court process and the lawyer also benefits, they come with their clients to the mediation sessions and often aid settlement. They, benefit by having satisfied clients and are also able to earn their professional fees.

There is no need for conflict between the conventional adversarial litigative system and the less formal processes like mediation. The adversarial system is needed for a large body of cases — such as development of constitutional law, legal interpretation, declaration of rights, statutory violation and enforcement. But many cases are essentially not about rights nor about injustice, though they are dressed up as such so that a court may take cognizance of them. This was first part on How to find the practice area best-suited for a lawyer This might be the practice area best-suited for a lawyer.

Arbitration as an area of practice

Justice through court mechanism requires money and time. For a common man, court is where justice is delivered to him. To cope with changing scenario India modified its Arbitration legislation to provide a push to changing environment of business and commerce. People are entering more into contractual relationships owing to complex nature of businesses today. Therefore, commercial arbitration has increased significantly.

Personality and Work Style – Knowing Yourself and your work

Arbitration means any arbitration whether or not administered by permanent arbitration institution. Arbitration can be defined as, a process in which disputes between legal rights of two or more person is settled judicially and with a binding effect.

practice area best-suited for a lawyer.

Domestic arbitration takes place in India where, the terms of contracts, arbitration proceedings, are all governed by Indian laws. Another condition could be when the cause of action for the dispute arises wholly in India, or where the parties are subject to Indian jurisdiction. The practice area best-suited for a lawyer.

A foreign arbitration is when an arbitration is conducted in a place outside India and the resulting award is to be enforced as a foreign award. The proceedings and the procedure are decided by the parties entering into a contract. It can be of various types, such as domestic arbitration, international arbitration.

This might be the practice area best-suited for a lawyer. In this arbitration the parties decide arbitration tribunal that will settle their dispute.

International Arbitration takes place either within or outside India. Applicability of either foreign laws or party is required in International Arbitration. The law applicable to the conduct of the arbitration and the merits of the dispute may be Indian Law or foreign.

An Institutional Arbitration is laid down as per the rules of any established arbitration organisation. In this, the parties choose to go with the rules as set up by these institutional arbitration organisation. At times Institutional Arbitration organisation functions as fully administered arbitration centers. E.g, ICC Arbitration.

Future Geographic Considerations – Where Do You Want to Live? What Will Work for You and Your Family?

If one is interested in settling in India, then Domestic Arbitration will serve as cake in the platter. Looking from the perspective of going abroad, an arbitrator might have to make frequent foreign trips when associated with International or foreign arbitration. This might be the practice area best-suited for a lawyer. Taking a look at the present situation, if foreign law firms are allowed to administer full-fledged in India, the prospect of arbitration will further boost.

Financial stability

Venues of arbitration are expanding immensely for lawyers in today’s world. In fact, arbitration is going to offer the maximum chance of expansion and growth in the field of law, as it will witness unprecedented growth. Overseas, arbitrators have this repute required in a profession and also are paid well but the situation in India is different. Lawyers often take part in arbitrations provided they have leisure time. Because the earning is meager when compared with litigation. This was the second part on How to find the practice area best-suited for a lawyer. 

Medicine law as an area of practice

Both Medicine and Law are the oldest and true models of professions. Medicolegal is the term, which incorporates the basics of two sister professions, Medicine and Law.

practice area best-suited for a lawyer.

Personality and Work Style – Knowing Yourself and your work

Take the example of a physician, a physician might get summoned by the court as a witness in a suit involving medical negligence. He might get summoned on other occasions as well, when a person injured with a gunshot is admitted informing police is necessary and thus he is summoned for the same. Another important duty imposed on physician is to preserve physical evidence for the benefit of a law enforcement agency.

Growing health infrastructure in India proposes a greater responsibility to doctors too. Work of a lawyer is to deal with laws related to medical practices.

Law of confidentiality

There exists a fiduciary relationship between doctor and client. A client entrusts all his information upon his doctor with utmost faith. There are situations where this client-doctor relationship is misused. In such a situation a lawyer well versed with the functioning of medical agreement clauses as well as substantive law comes handy. Also there are cases where consent of patient is involved. A doctor at times have to take hard and fast decisions which require high level of professional prudence. If results are negative then he might have to face legal consequences. Here a lawyer who knows of the business is needed the most. This might be the practice area best-suited for a lawyer.

Forensic medicine

Matters dealing with Autopsy, fingerprinting etc are dealt under Forensic medicine. Forensic lawyers draw conclusions and bring support to court cases by bridging a connection between forensic science and law.  As per When the Court has to form an opinion upon a point of foreign law or of science or art, or as to identity of handwriting or finger impressions, the opinions upon that point of persons specially skilled in such foreign law, science or art, or in questions as to identity of handwriting or finger impressions are relevant facts. Lawyers having knowledge of forensic medicine serves as a bridge between experts and judge.

Medical Negligence

In cases involving medical negligence the victim can file a complaint to the state consumer court also and there can be a criminal suit filed by the patient against the hospital or the doctor himself. If the main aim of the patient is to seek a monetary compensation then, he/she should file a complaint in the consumer court so that, the case can be finished at the earliest possible. This might be the practice area best-suited for a lawyer. When a lawyer knows the intricacies involved in operation or medicine he might be able to defend the hospital or sue it on the basis of his medical knowledge.

Future Geographic Considerations – Where Do You Want to Live? What Will Work for You and Your Family?

Chances of settling abroad are minimal. One needs to know the law of the land. Therefore, if you are thinking settling abroad, this is not your area of practice. There are institutions which provide information on medicolegal jurisprudence. Institute of Medicine & Law (IML) provides education, information, and services in medical laws. IML’s information and analysis is real-time, accurate, actionable and is delivered to doctors, hospitals, and lawyers on multiple platforms using the latest in technology.

Financial stability

Medical cases in India are very hard to win and therefore, there are a lot of challenges faced by the victims of the negligence. These challenges include that how can a complainant prove the doctor’s negligence? Another challenge involved is how to get a qualified lawyer? Compensation involving medical negligence are high and so is the fees. If one is an established lawyer, as the saying goes, sky is the limit. This was the third part of How to find the practice area best-suited for a lawyer. 

Corporate Social Responsibility as an area of practice

This is a new field of legal jurisprudence in India. It is a boon for lawyers who want to get involved with corporates but are not willing to choose commercial hardcore law. It is an underdeveloped area of law. One, quoting Steve jobs, “Crazy one”, who desires a change in the society, in the structural functioning of legal system, are best-suited for this job.

Personality and Work Style – Knowing Yourself and your work

CSR is fixed amount from the profit of big corporates or business houses which they need to devote for social causes. What is the role of a lawyer in CSR? The role of the lawyer is to advise the company on fulfillment or non fulfillment of laws. Therefore, if a company eligible as per CSR laws defaults with the 2% amount to be given as CSR, then what will be the legal consequences? This might be the practice area best-suited for a lawyer. CSR and law are not mutually exclusive but are in fact interrelated concepts.

Lawyers can advise the company on CSR program under provisions of the Companies Act. Lawyers can play a significant role in CSR because of their expertise in understanding of law and because of their legally protected role as confidential advisors or client-attorney relationship. Also, lawyer functions as an intermediary between the company and any third parties involved in CSR implementation. By appointing a lawyer as the head of CSR department, company can ensure control over the information flowing from CSR due diligence.

Other work includes

  • SWOT-analysis of a given company in relation to CSR;
  • Designing of  CSR policies of the companies.
  • Formulating a strategy for the company to look into their CSR problems effectively.
  • How cost-cutting is to be done and less money is to be spend over CSR.
  • Formulating strategies on how to respond on media or NGO.

Future Geographic Considerations – Where Do You Want to Live? What Will Work for You and Your Family?

A CSR lawyer’s knowledge will only be helpful and practical if he is based in India. There might be frequent court visits and media appearances. Therefore, to manage the affairs one needs to reside close to these affairs. When appointed as a lawyer of an international company one might have to make frequent abroad trips to meet the directors of the company and discuss the details.

Financial stability

For CSR, lawyers need a leadership skill by seeing, then working for, a vision of more equitable, multi-stakeholder outcomes that respect everyone’s rights and creatively accommodate them in the long-term interests of the company and its stakeholders. As an in-house counsel for the company, one might earn in lakhs. There is financial stability as company recruits their team of lawyer who work on these issues. Often empanelling of lawyers is also seen by business houses. 

This was all on How to find the practice area best-suited for a lawyer. What are your opinions on How to find the practice best-suited area for a lawyer? 

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here