The Reality of Salary Packages: An excerpt from Tanuj Kalia’s book

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Tanuj Kalia is the founder of Lawctopus, and has recently authored a book titled ‘Law as a Career’. Published by LexisNexis, the book is a guide for students keen on pursuing a career in law.

Below is a section from the chapter on ‘Salary Packages: A Warning’. The content has been edited slightly to be suitable as a stand-alone piece.

Mainstream media regularly publishe stories about the 12 lakh plus per annum salaries at the big law firms and companies. These figures do not present the complete picture of salary figures applicable to most law graduates. This often misleads the gullible law aspirants and their parents into believing that these plum job offers are the sure-shot fruits of passing out from a top law school.

Unfortunately, even the CLAT coaching institutes, which both the parents and the law aspirants trust in, actually reinforce these ideas rather than being clear on what the true picture is. Let us do a reality check.

The 12 lakh plus per annum job offers are given by a handful of law firms in India. These are generally classified as the ‘Big 6’ of the Indian law firms: Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co. (AMSS, which is undergoing a split as I write), AZB & Partners, J Sagar Associates (JSA), Khaitan and Company, Luthra & Luthra Law Offices, and Trilegal.

Some of the other smaller law firms like S&R Associates, Pathak & Associates, Talwar Thakore & Associates (TTA) and companies like the ICCI Bank, etc. also pay this much.

There are not more than 300 such jobs on offer every year. A bulk of these jobs will be (unfortunately) gobbled up by graduates of the top NLUs. For many other law aspirants, they get sold on a false dream.

The starting salaries at most other places are alright, but not astronomical. Sadly, neither the media nor the CLAT mentors tell you about this.

Renowned firms like Kochhar & Co., Crawford Bayley & Co. have a salary package of 4-6 lakhs per annum. A Supreme Court judicial clerkship pays Rupees 30,000 a month.

If you are working as a junior in a High Court in Delhi, good senior lawyers will pay you Rupees 15,000- 20,000 per month. The figures are lower for other High Courts. At the Madras High Court for example, you can expect the seniors to pay you Rupees 8,000-12,000 a month.

Hence, the caveat: Please do not go by what the media shouts out. It is just an advertisement of the law firms and the law schools and, like all advertisements, it is not the complete picture..

An average law graduate from an average law school definitely does not earn more than an average engineering graduate from an average engineering college.  If you graduate from a middle-low rung law school, your salary figure will be around Rupees 15000-20000 per month for starters.

Law is called a ‘jealous mistress’ because, to impress the jealous mistress, you need to work hard. If you are from the top law schools, you still need to work hard. If you are from a low-ranked school, you will need to work twice as hard than the ones from top-rated schools.

If you are excited by the worldly pursuits of living a rich life, rest assured that many lawyers do that really well. As far as earning money is concerned, the sky is the limit for a competent lawyer.

Postscript: The legal profession is also misrepresented in TV shows like Boston Legal, Law & Order, The Practice, etc. While they are fairly informative and stimulating, do not for once assume that that’s how the law is practiced in India.

You may be inspired by the characters in these shows but expecting to live their lives is as sane as expecting to live the life of ‘the Batman’.

Buy the book on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.in/Law-as-Career-Tanuj-Kalia/dp/9351434184/ or on LexisNexis here: http://lexisnexis.in/law-as-a-career.htm

51 COMMENTS

  1. Well I do not agree with what Tanuj writes; lawyers get paid a lot more dan engineers n he has painted a very grim picture; although he named the big six firms which pay a lot more than 12, AZB pays 17 lakhs per annum; he forgot to tell about scores of oder firms who pay in the range of 50-60k per month, about teaching jobs(which pay more than 35k),bank and insurance companies which pay abt 35k, judicial services, LPOs, PSUs which are hiring lawyers n pay more than 40k. The reality is not so grim and compared to other graduates law graduates have it easy. I wish Tanuj replied to this. So dere’s definitely more than 300 jobs but yes not everyone gets a 12lakh plus job but everyone already knows that.

    • Hi Shashank,

      There surely are firms which pay around 50-60k. But these are not more than 500-600 jobs. 

      Pangea3, which is the highest paying LPO in India pays around Rs. 40,000 in hand. Most other LPOs pay in the range of 10,000-15,000. Most of the small law firms in cities like Kolkata, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Bangalore pay around Rs. 20,000/month. 

      Unfortunately, lawyers do not get paid more than engineers. 

  2. Sir,thank you for such a valuable information, but please tell aren’t there other jobs other than a lawyer, and if yes then what are the salary packages offered by them.

    • Law is a fantastic career option, Bhaskar. If you are good, it pays very very well too. There are scores of other jobs available: say as an IP consultant, at various government organisations, as public prosecutors/district attorneys, tax law related work. My book touches on 20 such options in detail.

      The point of this short post on CLATgyan is that Rs. 12 lakh+ salaries regularly quoted in mainstream media is the reality only for top rankers of the top law schools. 

  3. Please get your facts right and have a walk into the corridors of Delhi HC. Only 10/15% must be getting 15-20K per month. Mostly earning 10 thousand (expanse included), with very few opportunities to learn as most of the times either you will be going for a adjournment or just holding files for seniors.  

    • Yes, there are a lot of senior lawyers who do not even pay! 

      And Rs. 10,000 (which you are quoting) is not too far from Rs. 15,000 (which I have put, right?) And we both have the same point.

      PS- I arrived at the Rs. 15,000-20,000 figure after doing a bit of research. 

  4. Sir, i totally disagree with you. This post should be on an engg orientation website maybe.
    1. 300 is not at all a fixed number and india is a developing country, who knows the no. of such jobs increase in coming years.
    2. Good lawyers get paid MORE than good engineers. I repeat ‘good’.
    3. Its not only about being in a top law school, its about passion. If a person is really passionate about law, i don’t think that the name of the law school matters much.
    PS: People, don’t go by paychecks. Its just a number after all. Lets do what we like, paychecks will follow !

    • 1. The jobs will surely increase. However, if you see for the last 5-8 years, the stats haven’t really been too impressive (partly due to the economic slow-down). At the same time, India is in that stage of development where it will see a rapid rise in demand for good lawyers.

      2. Good engineers are paid a lot too. Salaries which the top IITians get are probably more than what the top NLSians get. (My younger brother graduated from IIT Delhi in 2013, so I’ve been following those trends too a bit).

      3. Yes, it’s about passion. The book touches on that a lot. 

      PS- Lawyers are really a rich specie (both money and impact wise).

      The intention of the chapter is just to portray a realistic picture about the salary packages.

  5. What do companies like the Big 6  really look for in a law graduate to think them worthy of a 12 lac+ per annum  job?

    • Hi Ishita,

      College, then grades, then internships (though internships can become more important than grades soon), then publications/moot wins (also additional courses etc.)

      I cover a lot of it in the book! There’s a full section on internships, CVs and jobs.

  6. Hello Tanuj,

    I think it is well written, this is honestly still a rosy picture shown by you, there are competent lawyers practicing in the lower courts. Why are they they never recognized? & also people buying their way in to become a senior council ? do you think one can with one’s hard work make a mark in this field without any influence or contacts ??? I think you should point put these aspects. Rest all I appreciate that you have tried to show the real picture so a huge round of applause to that !
    Regards,
    Swati 

    • Hi Swati,

      Thank you for the good words. The book does cover a lot of other things. Basically it contains the below sections:

      1. Introduction to Law as a Career
      2. CLAT
      3. Law school life and how to do well in a law school
      4. Internships, CVs and Jobs
      5. Foreign LLM 
      6. Major career options in Law
      7. Other career options in Law
      8. Conclusion

  7. Hey Tanuj,
    Would you qualify NLU Delhi as one of the top law schools? Can one expect high pay packages if they graduate from there?

    Regards,
    Aditya

    • Yes. I’d surely put NLU Delhi as among the top 5-6 law colleges. If you work hard, there’s no stopping you from getting the highest pay packages available!

  8. Sir, firstly one needs to look into other aspects as well such as the amunt of work pressure faced by these ‘rookies’ in top law firms, i wonder whether they are satisfied with their high pay.(Money does not buy everything).

    Secondly, what would be your opinion about ’emerging’ NLUs (such as NLU Assam) in particular, do to think that students from these universities stand their chance? Which one matters, the Institution or the Student?

    • Hi Prithvi,

      Yes, the work pressure a newbie in a law firm faces is huge. For some, that’s a good thing and for other it becomes a reason to quite the workplace. (I deal with such issues in the ‘law firms’ chapter).

      The newer NLUs (with the exception of NLUD) have shown very little excellence in any department where an educational institutional would be expected to prove its mettle in. 

  9. Hello Tanuj,
    I am definitely going to buy the book soon. One question. I am from O P Jindal Global Law School and i have exceptional grades and research papers in very reputed journals but not very good moot wins and internships. What would my prospects be. And why do you lay such an emphasis on interships? I do not think they are so important for either jobs or a foreign llm! Please reply

  10. Hi, Whatever u write is true…. I m in contact with persons who are r associated with seniors lawyers and they r not paying them more than 15000/ months as they r fresher. But about d prospect of private practice after gaining experience… I m a pharmacist and running my own medical store, earning around 40k/ month… Doing LLB from Delhi University…and want to try my hand in law…as I m not very much satisfied with my business… What is ur opinion about it? If a person like me who have medicine background and want to try his hand in law…. What r d prospect…? Plz guide…

  11. SIR, I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT TOP COLLEGES FOR LLM IN CORPORATE AND COMMERCIAL LAWS OTHER THAN THE NLU’S. IS ALLIANCE SCHOOL OF LAW IS GOOD FOR LLM? WHAT KIND OF PLACEMENT WILL IT PROVIDE?

  12. I am from Galgotias Universuty School of Law , is it considered or can I get good or better placement or not.Also suggest me some ways for getting a good top notch job . I am a  good article writer but cannot do well in moot.Is it bad ? 

  13. Hi Tanuj Sir, 

    Well can u tell me how is Kiit Law School i, Bhubaneshwar in terms of placement , job oppurtunities , am very keenly waiting for the reply , Do they bag offers from top law firms ?

  14. Sir, i really appreciate your worda but i am intersted in law and i am interated more in foriegn law firms i just wanna ask you that what i have to do if i want want to get this job 
    I will do my best if you tell me the way to prepare myself for this job and i just want my sallary 50 to 60 lac per annum so tell me the way i will work hard ..
    And also tell me that if i have to graduate from usa then what will be my profit and loss 
    Thanking you 

  15. Sir may i know that how much is the average package of a person persued llb from delhi university and can u suggest me some of good colleges for 3 yrs llb course and college should aslo have better reputations with regard to palcement and average packages 

    • Hello sidhart patidar..!! 
      I wud like to tell you that instead for opting for a three year course you should go with a five year course and get your bachelor’s degree from a nlu and then my next suggestion to you would be that you should go abroad for your JD(JURIS DOCTOR) degree by practicing any law say for Eg;- international law..which is also a five year course in the most reputed college NYU.. And then all the cash is in your hands.. Once you are an international lawyer your basic pay would be 76000$ ANNUALLY…!! 
      And with an experience of 10-15 years international lawyers get their annual pay upto 256000$..SO think on that..!! 
      Hope this helps you..!! 

  16. I’ve got two questions:
    1-Which one’s better,doing LLB from NLU or doing B.Tech from a NIT of d same rank?
    2-What are d career options after LLB and their salaries?
    Should I go for a job after LLB or should I chose doing LLM and MBA/CA also?

  17. sir i have one dought that i m just passing 12th exam from rbse board form pcm.. if i  will drop one year for preparation of clat and i m failed in one attempt then any other option is there which is link with clat…. then what i do…. sir plzzz reply me fast….. 

  18. Hi
    I would really like to know about the placements in private law schools like symbiosis pune and ils pune. I made it to Clat but unfortunately not in the top ones. I am really confused whether i should go for the NLUs which do not rank high or symbiosis pune for a better placement. Please reply.

  19. Hlo sir, 
    What is your view about NLU Jodhpur?
    Can a top 20 student get package around 12 lakhs in India?

  20. Sir i wanted to ask u dat if a person is a law graduate from symboisis college which is just astep behind the top nlu’s what his average  salary wud be and if we pursue llm from abroad what are their packages

  21. sir i am confused now. recently i gave cpt exam for ca. now looking at market and low packages of ca and then no security also of passing it. i am thinking to go for law..from nlu..dropping one year and prepare for law. what  you say sir. please advice me what should i do

  22. Hello Sir!
    Just want to ask you – is it OK to drop 2 years for getting top Nlu?? I am really very confuse please help. Hope you will reply me soon.

  23. Hi,
    tanuj kali i dont agree you as u r saying that some law student get packages of 4-6 lakh. because in india many b.tech students even did’nt get jobs. recently in up police constable examination 50% of the candidates who joined it where b.tech degree holders. and if would talk about IITians and NITians there are only some core branches where students get good packages.

  24. Hello sir…..I have a query…..what does a student studying in a top nlu have to do to be offered a job in a foreign firm like Allen and overy…..??please answer…..as I’m really in a fix….Thank you

  25. Hi,I m from School of Law ,Christ University ,Bangalore,Karnataka.If I work meticulously thought the year then can I expect a handsome salary or a good package? Please tell me,Please help me

  26. Hi Tanuj, can I ask the difference of placement between 3 year law and 5 year law courses . After that tell me the difference between the placement of a MBA Student passed out of IIM like top institute and on the other side a student of Law passed out of top law institute ?

  27. sir iam a student of CA………on other hand i want do ca+llb can u tell me ca+llb hows this combo…..what type of benifit we get in future…………….. this combination is good for carrer…….. some people tell me do law in corporate law or indirect law with CA….. in your point of view which is best field in law with CA….. please sir help me..

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