This article is written by Mohona Thakur, Marketing Manager at iPleaders.
The recent move by the Kerala Govt. mandating a stipend of INR 5,000 for the junior advocates with less than three years of practice and an annual income lesser than 1 lakh, makes us wonder; Is surviving in the world of litigation really that financially stressful? Is litigation worth the struggle in the long run?
I would be honest with you, I was a practising lawyer at the Supreme Court of India prior to joining iPleaders. It is a stressful job. Litigation is not financially rewarding in the initial years for the majority, and a lot of lawyers are exhausted by the long working hours or days. However, on the flip side, it teaches you more than you might have bargained for. You learn how the courts function, how to handle the office clerks – always keep them in your good books, there’s no two-way about it – how to manage multiple cases in multiple courts simultaneously, how to analyse the judges and present your case to their liking and, not to mention, you learn the art of dealing with stress.
Your approach towards dealing with the cases is directly proportional to the amount of experience you gain. It’s definitely a learning experience. However, would you opt for litigation immediately after you have graduated? What is it that is in for you in terms of financial stability in the long run? I did a quick survey of the best paymasters in the litigation world of Delhi.
Most law students that opt for litigation are paid anywhere between INR 10,000 to INR 25,000 per month in the first couple of years. There are some famous lawyers, like Harish Salve, who do not believe in paying entry level juniors at all and expect them to work for free. However, if young lawyers stick to the profession there are chances that they may earn ten times their current salary in the next four years. We, at iPleaders, have prepared an exhaustive list of litigation law firms and Senior Advocates of the Supreme Court that pay you handsomely.
Here is a list of three law firms that you can opt for immediately after you have graduated if you want to pursue a career in litigation. These law firms recruit a large number of lawyers each year including many freshers.
Karanjawala & Company, New-Delhi
Established in the year 1983, this is probably the most prominent firm in the litigation circles not only in Delhi but across India. Both Raian Karanjawala – the Managing Partner – and his wife, Manik Karanjawala head the litigation practice of the firm.
It is an Advocate-on-Record (AoR) firm, with three Advocates on Record as partners – Manik Karanjawala, Nandini Gore and Ruby Singh Ahuja. As an AoR firm they can file cases in the Supreme Court of India. This gives their employees access to attend Senior Counsel briefings and appear in the Supreme Court.
As per sources, in 2017 Karanjawala & Co. paid INR 45,000 to its freshers.
You may find out more about the firm here.
Parekh & Co., New-Delhi
Established in the year 1975 by P.H. Parekh, this is the most reputed Advocate-on-Record firm in India. The litigation practice of the firm is overlooked by the Managing Partner – Sameer Parekh, whereas the arbitration practice is headed by Sonali Basu Parekh.
The firm has two Advocates on Record – Sameer Parekh and Sonali Basu Parekh. While a majority of their work is specific to the Supreme Court, they represent major giants such as Hindustan Unilever, Larsen and Toubro, ICICI Bank and Bluedart at the High Court and various other tribunals.
As per sources, in 2017 Parekh & Co., paid INR 22,000 as joining salary to its freshers. It is important to note that the salary does not remain constant throughout the year. It increases every three to six months. A freshers salary by the end of the first year is likely to be double their joining salary.
You may find out more about the firm here.
Agarwal Law Associates, New-Delhi
With approximately four hundred Supreme Court filings in 2017, Agarwal Law Associates (ALA) has been performing phenomenally in the past couple of years. The Supreme Court filings of the firm take place through the firms’ partner – E.C. Agrawala. The litigation practice of the firm is overlooked by Mr. Mahesh Agarwal, the Managing Partner.
The firm boasts of some of the major giants such as the Essar Group, ADA Reliance Group, GMR and Tata Teleservices amongst others.
The salary paid by the firm to freshers is approximately INR 40,000. You can visit their website for more information here.
One thing common to these firms is that their clients are corporate giants. This means that if you want to be hired by these firms, it is utmost important for you to pull up your socks and know the laws that are the most relevant in the corporate sector.
While there are litigation firms that are easier to work with immediately after you have graduated since they are big on hiring freshers, there are a number of senior counsels who hire experienced lawyers as their juniors to assist them on a daily basis in the Supreme Court as well as the High Court. Here is a list of Senior Advocates who are willing to pay you for all the hard work that you put in:
Mr. Salman Khurshid, Senior Advocate
Salman Khurshid is a well-known name in litigation. Not only is he a politician but also an eminent author and law teacher. As per sources, he pays freshers approximately INR 70,000 per month which can go up to INR 90,000 per month within the very first year.
Dr. Rajeev Dhavan, Senior Advocate
Dr. Dhavan has had an illustrious career as an advocate. He had represented the Babri Masjid Action Committee before the Allahabad High Court over the title of the land on which the mosque stood before being destroyed by a mob in 1992.
Dr. Dhavan, as per sources, is known to pay INR 60,000 per month to his juniors. In addition to the monthly salary, his juniors are entitled to INR 5,000 to INR 15,000 per hearing for matters in Delhi and INR 10,000 per appearance for out-station matters.
Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Senior Advocate
Dr. Singhvi is known to appear for major corporate giants. You may often see his juniors running from one end of the Supreme Court to the other. Dr. Singhvi majorly deals with cases pertaining to investment and banking sector, making him an obvious choice amongst companies for matters before the Supreme Court.
As per sources, Dr. Singhvi hires experienced lawyers. He is known to pay anywhere between INR 70,000 to INR 1,40,000 per month to his juniors.
Mr. Kapil Sibal, Senior Advocate
Having formerly been the Minister of Education in India, Mr. Kapil Sibal is a name known to all. Mr. Sibal regularly appears in the Supreme Court for various high profile matters along with his battalion of juniors.
Most of his juniors have over five years of work experience and are paid approximately INR 2,00,000 per month and INR 20,000 per case.
While litigation, in the long run, may seem very lucrative as an option, it is important to understand the requirements that Senior Advocates and law firms alike have from freshers as well as practising advocates. Every year, thousands of law graduates choose litigation as their career option and then digress. For law students and lawyers to survive this grind and make it big, you require a lot of patience and need to acquire knowledge.
Not every law student who may have applied for the job at Karanjawala or at Mr. Khurshid’s may have gotten it. They must have received hundreds of applications from which they would have had to choose. To make it to these places you need to be cut out for the work and gain practical knowledge.
While practising lawyers accumulate immense knowledge and experience over the years when they tend to shift from one chamber to another or from one senior to another, what matters what they bring to the table. There are a number of advocates that learn the tricks of the court, which is a valuable skill in itself, however, they don’t know the law. If you have to perform better than them, it’s simple, gain hands-on knowledge of the law.
When you work with a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of India, you are required to research on various points of law and prepare briefing notes for the senior, apart from assisting them in court.
Supreme Court practice requires you to know a vast number of laws. From my experience, you must be thorough with business laws as clientele of the law firms and Senior Advocates of the Supreme Court are companies. In addition to business laws, you must have sufficient knowledge about banking and investment, debt recovery, real estate and last but not the least, criminal litigation.
How do you set yourself apart in order to ensure that you have better chances of being hired? How do you gain knowledge? Is the only way to learn through the grind?
Let’s say you are practising on the civil side, how do you expect to gain insights of criminal litigation? Would you like to learn through online courses that have practical insights from industry experts? I researched and found a number of online courses by NUJS Kolkata that will be extremely helpful to build your career in litigation:
- Diploma in Entrepreneurship Administration and Business Laws. You can find the course here.
- Advanced Certificate Course on Companies Act, 2013. You can find the course here.
- Certificate Course in Criminal Law, Litigation and Trial Advocacy. You can find the course here.
- Certificate Course in Real Estate Laws. You can find the course here.
I wish these courses help you flourish in your litigation career. Here is hoping that you walk that extra mile and learn the law on the go. Good luck!