Law firms are no more the preferred destination for fresh law graduates looking for jobs.

With outsourcing catching up even in this industry, legal process outsourcing (LPO) companies are now bagging a large number of graduates.

Explaining this trend, Associate Professor at the Amity Law School, Dr Isheeta Rutabhasini, said the change is likely due to the pay packages offered by LPOs.

“There is a rising trend of students opting for LPOs. The nature of work is changing and these places offer good packages and work culture. Moreover, I believe, promotions also come faster in LPOs,” she said.

Another reason for the change, Dr Rutabhasini said, could be the long working hours and stressful work environment of law firms.

Pegging the LPO industry's compound annual growth rate (CAGR) at about 30 per cent, Mr Rohan Dalal, the Managing Director of Mindcrest, an LPO, said: “There are very few lawyers available in India who are experts in the laws of the US or the UK, which constitute a bulk of our clients. In general, therefore, we prefer to hire younger legal talent, whether fresh or a few years out of Indian law schools.”

Employability gap

However, the employability gap is a problem that appears to be dogging the legal industry as well.

“In general, our data show that no more than five to seven per cent of law graduates who apply to Mindcrest are selected for employment,” Mr Dalal said.

The LPO industry is expected to touch $1.2 billion over the next five years.

On the other hand, while LPOs may be garnering more interest among graduates, law firms continue to bag the best .

“The best students still go for litigation or join corporate law firms,” Dr Rutabhasini admitted.

Corporate law

Mr Sunil Tyagi, Partner at the Zeus Law Associates, said most freshers still want to join law firms and that most of the graduates like to practise corporate law.

He said the glamour attached to corporate law as well as better pay attract students to corporate law.

However, students continue to give non-governmental organisations (NGOs) a miss.

“NGOs almost always need a legal base and really look forward to having lawyers on their staff. But law graduates are often unwilling to join NGOs since the pay is generally low. We can't compete with the private sector and the pay offered by law firms or LPOs,” said Ms Maja Daruwala, Director of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

aesha.datta@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on May 11, 2012)
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