This article is written by Shweta Rath, Team LawSikho.
We know for a fact that most legal professionals and students pursuing higher education abroad are extremely inclined towards research.
If we were to speak about competition law enthusiasts, in particular, all the best universities in the UK, EU and the US have excellent departments to pursue research in competition law.
Law colleges in India today create a certain hype towards working only for law firms. Students are mostly encouraged towards interning in tier-1 law firms of the countries.
But to be honest, the role of a lawyer can be multi-faceted. Not everybody wants to pursue a career working for law firms. There is a significant size of population which has an academic mindset and has pursued research as a career option. We, at LawSikho have explored this particular sector and reached out to competition lawyers who have worked in various think tanks in the country in their competition law verticals to get a deeper dive into this field.
Here are our findings:
#1 Which are the think tanks currently operating in India that have a competition law vertical?
India is no longer far behind in terms of research as government and non-government organisations have started conducting hard core research in competition law. Professionals can apply to the following organisations to work as a Research Associate (RA) in competition law:
- CUTS International- Competition vertical
- Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy
- Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA)
- Niti Ayog
- Institute for Commercial Policy & Legal Research (ICPR)
- Jindal Global Law School (JGLS)
#2 Is there any specific application procedure for them?
General graduates are eligible for these positions and having a law degree is not a hard and fast rule. CUTS, Vidhi, JGLS and IICA are places where professionals can apply as a fresher. RAs in such think tanks come from all walks of life and diversity is of value in such think tanks. You will be required to provide a writing sample to justify your aptitude and inclination towards the law. Sometimes, depending upon the organisation, an interview will also be held to understand the policy changes that professionals wish to make to the current legislation.
Candidates are expected to produce a published research paper in this particular domain to improve their chances of getting selected. Please note, the level of base and functional knowledge required for this position is significantly high because the primary assessment should reflect extremely sound research skills
#3 Is having an LLM a necessary criterion?
It is not mandatory to have an LLM in order to get selected for these positions. Be that as it may, it will definitely score brownie points. And if you have published papers on competition law in universities outside, then it will definitely help shortlist your application. However, it has been observed that professionals who have completed their LLM most often apply for such research based positions and may not always be inclined towards working for law firms.
#4 What is the work environment like?
Most of our sources have stated that the work environment is not as stressful as law firms. You certainly do not spend late nights and the working hours are very standard which will be between 10 AM to 6 PM. However, if an important research or policy paper is up for submission, you may have to stretch some hours but that is not a regular phenomenon. So, people who seek a work-life balance should definitely give this line of career a serious thought.
#5 What kind of work would you get?
You get to choose your hours as long as deadlines are met. After a topic of report has been allocated, RAs are given the freedom to choose their hours as long as the deadlines decided by the team are met.
There would be a regular update taking place with the team members/in charge but working in think tanks definitely gives you a greater autonomy compared to law firms. However, if a particular project is being funded by an organisation, then there may be tough deadlines as the organisation has to be kept in loop the whole time.
#6 Work description
As an RA, you will be expected to work on the following areas:
- Research project circulated by private parties
- Policy reports on propositions forwarded by the government departments
- Sectoral studies. An example of such studies could be the research conducted by IICA which can be found here: https://iica.nic.in/sclmr_research.aspx
- Create course modules on competition law for various organisations
- Develop compliance programmes on competition law
- Market surveys and reports
- Comments for the white papers circulated by the Government
#7 Team Strength and Work Structure
The team strength is anywhere between 4-5 people. Generally, an RA is allocated a project and is responsible for the early stages of the project all on his own. The scope of the project is pre-planned which needs to be adhered to. The seniors of the team then review the research and suggest restructuring of the work piece. Comments of key stakeholders (eminent people in the sectors of research and sponsors if any) are sought. Thereafter the final structure of the project has to be again put in by the RA to freeze the final version. The junior RAs are constantly supervised and guided. Professionals have stated that it is quite a healthy work environment.
#8 What is the Pay Scale?
The pay scale can vary between INR 40,000 – INR 90,000 per month depending on the organization and experience of the candidate.
Are you the one for this job?
You need a completely different mindset to pursue a career as a research associate!
Most professionals have stated that legal professionals who want to pursue a career in research need to have an aptitude of thinking outside the box and should be open to exploring various schools of theories and even create them.
The whole point of delving into research is to produce different interpretations of the legislation and derive legal principles. The job description unlike law firms or an RA at the CCI is extremely abstract. So RAs working in think tanks should be expected to dive into and explore the laws of various other jurisdiction in order to incorporate the principles in India.
Professionals have stated that such think tanks do not necessarily have a contractual agreement and if the RAs are found to be beneficial to the organisation, they are retained for higher positions. The best part about working for think tanks is that you do not need to necessarily limit yourself to competition law. Most of these think tanks are interdisciplinary and so quite often, after having worked for a few years in the competition vertical, RAs migrate to other areas of policy and gain holistic knowledge in areas like corporate, banking, etc.
RAs obtain excellent experience to pursue a career in academics by joining universities as professors. Needless to say, they will also be valuable assets to legal teams in law firms. Lawyers do not get as much time to work on areas such as policy and research. In such a scenario, adding a policy lawyer to the team could fill the gaps of research in such teams.
To learn more about how you can perform real work for clients, you can explore the Certificate Course In Competition Law, Practice And Enforcement. You will have an opportunity to attend 1 online live class per week (after work hours – you can watch a recording if you cannot attend the live session and ask your doubts later), perform 2 simulation exercises and receive in-line feedback on your drafts, access online study materials (along with hard copies despatched to your address), doubt clearance within 24 hours and a lot of other benefits that you can find on the course page with details.
The course is aimed at bringing you at par with at least 1 year of post-qualification experience in a top law firm, in as little as 3 months’ time. Independent lawyers and professionals who specialize in a different area will be adequately empowered to spot competition concerns and deal with them. If you are a student, securing internships becomes a super-streamlined process, as you would have acquired the relevant skills.
Comment below if you wish to speak to one of our experts for a free career counseling session.
Do not forget to download and read through the free course material.
We also have the below-mentioned courses that are closing enrolments tonight:
EXECUTIVE CERTIFICATE COURSES