The Supreme Court of India has raised the stipends for graduates joining as judicial clerks for one year from Rs 20,000 per month to Rs 25,000, having taken on roughly 50 to 55 students this year, with further stipend increases rumoured for 2011.
The monthly pay for the one-year Supreme Court judicial clerkships has increased to Rs 25,000 per month, according to a Supreme Court source and several law students.
One law student said that there were plans at the country’s top bench of increasing the stipend in 2011 to Rs 30,000, although a Supreme Court source told Legally India that this figure would remain unchanged.
“For this year we have already completed our process now,” said the Supreme Court source, who declined to be named. “For next year we will start our process in the month of January.”
He added that roughly 50 to 55 students had joined for this year’s judicial clerkship at the apex court but that numbers always depended on the “requirements of the honourable judges”.
Judicial clerkships have been popular with students for a variety of reasons.
“Either they want to apply for an LLM after this thing or want to build up contacts with lawyers because the time you visit court with the judges, those practising lawyers come to know that you are working with a Supreme Court judge,” explained one student.
Another student said: “I definitely think it’s pretty useful – you understand a lot of procedure at the end of it. Previously I had done an internship under an advocate and I think that I learnt better procedure with a SC judge.
The student had gone for a six-week judicial clerk internship but decided not to apply for the full one-year programme on graduation said that it was mainly because the remuneration was not satisfactory. “I thought it’s better to do a law firm job and I am also not so interested in litigation.”
One law professor explained that judicial clerkships were a system that had caught on very well in the US. “The culture started where they would join a judge and see the actual workings in a court room and after a while that became so competitive that the brightest students got the best judges.”
“Now in India it has reached the stage too where it is a mark of academic excellence but students still don’t get to pick individual judges,” he added, “and the not so good judges may get the brightest students.” Nevertheless, he said that many US universities often valued Indian judicial clerkships very highly for LLM applications.
Selection for apex court judicial clerkships happens through interviews conducted at national and other law schools that are approached by the Supreme Court or through direct application.
In 2006 the programme appears to have been only open only to students from national law schools and ILS Pune. But one national law school student said: “It is not just national law schools. I have seen a number of people from other law schools also [doing judicial clerkships].”
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|2010-11 Indian legal recruiters' offered remuneration
|Firm||Base retainer pay (Rs lakh)||Offered total package incl. max bonus (Rs lakh) / other|
|AZB & Partners (Mumbai)||11.4||"competitive bonus"|
|Khaitan & Co (Mumbai)||10.8 (7.2 - 8.5 for 2010 batch)||14.8|
|Trilegal||10.8 (10.2 for 2010 batch)||12.8|
|Amarchand Mangaldas||10.3 - 10.8||14 - 15|
|Luthra & Luthra||10.2||12.6 (+3 insurance benefits)|
|AZB & Partners (Delhi)||9.8||"competitive bonus"|
|J Sagar Associates (JSA)||9.6|
|ICICI Bank||9.05 (salary with retainer option)||CTC* with other benefits convertible to full retainer after six months.|
|Desai & Diwanji||6 - 8.4|
|Nishith Desai Associates (NDA)||7.2 (salary)||+4.8 fixed amount is paid out after three years with firm.
First-year CTC* figure therefore 12.
12 forms base for 2nd year increase.
|SAIL||6.6 - 6.8|
|Phoenix Legal||6 - 7.2|
|IFMR||6 - 6.5|
|Juriscorp||4.8 - 6|
|Pangea3||4 - 6 (5 - 7 for 2010-11) (CTC* incl. bonus at top 10 law schools)|
|Kochhar & Co
||4.2 - 4.8|
|Supreme Court judicial clerkships
Source: Legally India research: interviews with students and college recruitment committees and putting those figures to law firm or organisation for correction or comment.
*CTC: "cost to company" figure can include other benefits than just base salary.