Lawyers have ample opportunities in their profession says Lawyer Shabana Karim

Shabana Karim (Corporate lawyer)

Insights:

  1. The cost of law education is expensive but not as much as other professional courses.
  2. Over time, several new and exciting specialization within the law has been provided. However, most people associate law with conventional court practice.
  3. You have to be patient because as a junior lawyer you have to handle most of the legwork related to a case but that patience is rewarded tenfold in the form of practical knowledge you gain in the process.
  4. There is ample room for financial and professional growth in law. You have consistent growth in salary when you work for a firm or a company.
  5. Independent lawyers’ salaries are determined by their roster of clients and number of cases they win. It isn’t fixed and varies significantly from lawyer to lawyer.
  6. Being open to challenges, having good analytical skills, having the ability to creatively strategize along with copious knowledge of the law, being updated on current affairs and having stellar communication skills to not only present the case but also handle clients are some of the most important qualities a lawyer should cultivate and possess.

Profile Details

Name – Shabana Karim

Profession – Corporate lawyer

Age – 40

Gender – Female

City – Nagpur

Industry – Law

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/shabana-karim-819998136/

Where have you been born and raised?

I was born and raised in Nagpur, Maharashtra. My father was in service and my mother is a housewife. We are 4 siblings, two brothers, and 2 sisters. I’m the eldest.

Who all had the most influence on you and how?

Although, I was a sportsperson at heart and just had a natural affinity for it; in my growing up years, I didn’t quite have all the information or liberties needed to choose the profession, which was right for us. Besides, my father always wanted me to be a lawyer. So, all of this contributed in influencing me to go in this line of work.

Please give us a summary of your career.

As I was doing my L.L.B from Law College Nagpur, I simultaneously worked as an intern for one of the senior advocates. This experience tremendously helped me gain much needed practical knowledge.

I worked with him for about 5 years, following which, I opened my own private practice. Initially, I catered mainly to different banks. I am now on the panel of 2–3 banks and also handle the work of few manufacturing companies.

Which institutes are best for the education/training of law?

National Law School is undoubtedly the best our country has to offer. Additionally, Pune also houses a few top-tier institutes like Bharati Vidyapeeth Law College.

What are the costs associated with the education/training of this profession?

Private institutes obviously charge more than government ones. On an average, the cost is 5–10 lakhs collectively. This is not low by any standards, but still less when compared to other professional courses such as Management, Medical etc.

What are the typical entry-level jobs as lawyers?

Earlier, beginners used to have a really hard time. They were overworked and underpaid. Seniors often did not want them to progress too much professionally. Now times have changed. There are ample opportunities for beginners. They are not restricted merely to clerical work rather MNCs like to hire freshers for research work.

But these new and varied opportunities are mostly found in big cities, whereas in small cities the pattern remains the same. Law graduate works for either a law firm or a company for about 5 years; after which, she has enough experience to open her own practice.

What is the range of salary one can expect when starting out in your line of career & industry?

Following is the average income of a corporate lawyer working in a law firm or in a company:

5 years – 10,000–15,000 INR per month

5–10 years – 50,000–80,000 INR per month

10–15 years – 1,00,000–2,50,000 INR per month

20+ years – 2,50,000–3,50,000 INR per month

It is not possible to give an accurate estimate of the salary of lawyers with independent practices since it depends on their client roster and the number of cases. Therefore, salary greatly varies from one lawyer to another and also from time to time.

Please describe your work.

I reach office around 9:30 AM and attend to clients.

Thereafter, I visit various companies where I am empanelled. This engages me for about 4–5 hours. My total work hours are 8–9 hours per day and I work 6 days a week, i.e. all days except Sundays.

Although my work timings often depend on the availability of my clients, I do not let it stretch into the night or any other odd hours since I have my daughter to look after as well.

What are some of the positives, which would encourage someone to consider this career/job?

  1. For me, the biggest positive is the mental stimulation that this profession provides. One needs to be really keen and dedicated and do in-depth research on cases to do well in this profession.
  2. Your clients come to you with different grievances such as criminal cases or family disputes. If you are able to resolve the issues and genuinely be of help to the aggrieved party, then that leaves you with a very humbling and satisfying feeling.
  3. The salaries received by good lawyers are very high and one will not face financial difficulties in life.
  4. Being a lawyer gives me respect and influence in the society.

What are some of the challenges that you would want someone to be aware of when considering this career/job?

  1. Practicing law is certainly stressful because you have to be on your toes. It starts right from acquiring the client, reviewing the case, preparing the history of the case along with the statements. Then you have to call for the documents pertaining to your case and in case they’re not available you have to apply for them and try very hard to obtain them in time.
  2. Filing procedure for each court is different. For example, district and high court are very different. This filling work is manual and highly stressful. Mostly, junior lawyers are given these tasks.
  3. Criminal lawyers are in a dangerous area in this profession, as they are often faced with threats to their well-being.
  4. It is crucial to have the details of your case worked out. Small mistakes and even the slightest negligence often lead to big problems.

What are the relevant trends/skills/technologies that are currently commanding a premium in your job profile?

Your ability to communicate and convince are of utmost importance in your career path. Make sure you hone them well. You also need to have good people skills in order to analyze your client and the situation.

What kind of person would be happy in your career?

Someone who readily accepts challenges and can handle the clients well. Someone, who is good at analyzing cases and has the ability to come up with the right defense or offense. This requires meticulous knowledge of the law plus presence of mind.

Given another choice, what would you do differently as far as your professional selections are concerned.

As I mentioned before, I was a sports person in my youth and I ardently love badminton, so I think I would have liked to go in that profession.

What would be your advice to students or professionals who are just starting their journey on a path similar to yours?

I would only tell the students to have clarity of mind, therefore, ensure that law is the career that they want to follow. Even within the law, they should research well to make sure that that they choose the right specialization.

Contributing Writer-Shtakshi Gupta

You may also like to read our conversation with Corporate lawyer Mr. Rishabh Shah here.