Justice Markandey Katju is the former Chairman of the Press Council of India. Prior to this appointment, he served as a Judge at the Supreme Court of India (2006 – 2011). Before being elevated as a judge to the Supreme Court, he had served as the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court (2005), Madras High Court (2004), and as acting Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court (2004). The following advice has been taken from his official facebook page.
Advice to aspirants to the legal profession
A young man of about 26 years met me today, and asked me whether he should joined the legal profession. He has a LL.B degree and he has been working for a company for the last four years or so, earning about 80,000 rupees per month. He is a bachelor.
I told him that he should think carefully before giving up his job and becoming a lawyer.
The legal profession is a very tough profession with a lot of competition. He is of an age when people get married, have a child or two, and have to support their families. How will he do it when his income becomes zero? Surely he should not become a burden on his father, because after a certain age a self respecting person would not like to remain a financial burden on his parents but earns his own bread.
The first few years in the legal profession are very tough. Clients normally want to engage an experienced lawyer and would not like to go to an inexperienced one. So initially he will have no clients and no work. He will have to join a senior’s chamber, and nowadays many seniors do not help or teach their juniors. They may be having half a dozen other juniors, and one will have to sit with them and they may regard you as a rival.
Many seniors think that if they teach the junior or help him, he may take away his cases. So one has to be very careful in choosing a senior who will help and teach. Such seniors are becoming rare these days.
For many years one will have to go with very little work and very little income.The profession is already overcrowded, and it will not be easy for a newcomer to get work and build up a practise. It is only after 5 or 6 years that he will start earning enough for the needs of himself, his wife and children.
Moreover, one has to have a certain temparament to be a lawyer, and everybody does not have that temperament.
So my advice to persons thinking of joining the legal profession is to think carefully before entering it and consult his/her relatives and friends before doing so. Of course, if one has a father or a close relative in the legal profession, or his father is a judge, that may help, but without any support it is not easy to develop a fair practice, at least in the early years.
One should not imagine that one will immediately become a Palkiwala, or Fali Nariman on entering the profession.
The legal profession is not like the profession of a filmstar who with one big hit becomes famous. It is a slow profession and it takes many years to develop a good practise. Moreover, one has to work from morning till night because even after coming back from court, one has to sit in his chamber or his senior’s chamber in the evening. So the legal profession is not for one who wants to work from 10 am to 5 pm and wants to enjoy himself/herself in the evening.