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Supreme Court judicial clerkship stipends hiked to Rs 25k; Attractive enough?

The Bench 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].”

Please add more information to the Legallypedia entry on Judicial clerkship

There is also a new article that will be updated with the latest salary information of Indian law firms and legal recruiters. Please help Legallypedia by updating it.


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
S&R Associates 10.8  
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.
Wadia Ghandy 8.4  
Talwar Thakore 8.4  
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)
Lakshmikumaran Sridharan 4.8  
Crawford Bayley
Kochhar & Co
4.2 - 4.8  
Supreme Court judicial clerkships
3 (stipend)  

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.

Click to show 17 comments
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By reading the comments you agree that they are the (often anonymous) personal views and opinions of readers, which may be biased and unreliable, and for which Legally India therefore has no liability. If you believe a comment is inappropriate, please click 'Report to LI' below the comment and we will review it as soon as practicable.
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Like +5 Object -2 Anonymous guest 24 Sep 10, 10:37
25 K a month is ok since it's short term thing before an LLM. it's also enough compared to what advocates pay.
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Like +7 Object -2 Anonymous guest 24 Sep 10, 11:29  interesting
Pls update table with this imp. info-

fresher from non-National law school with 0 contacts= Rs. 0 p.m
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Like +4 Object -2 Anonymous guest 24 Sep 10, 11:45
Well the thing is considering the experience one gains and what clerking does for ones cv and llm applications, as long as the money is enough to survive on, its fine. I have heard however that there is a big problem with the way some judges treat their clerks, i.e. timings, work hours, conditions etc., not sure if that is worth it.
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Like +4 Object -2 Anonymous guest 24 Sep 10, 12:49
You seem to have based your assumption that the clerkship is open to only law school students and ILS pass outs on a 2006 article! Really incompetent research and reporting.
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Like +5 Object -3 kianganz 24 Sep 10, 13:15
Thanks for your comment - you are correct, I should have added the year of the blog post in the article, been done now.

However, part of the reason I cited a 2006 article was because I could honestly not find any other useful previous references on the internet. The only other prominent article was one in The Hindu from 2002.

Wikipedia also has a nice write-up although there are no references and not many details either. Will add a link to the Legally India story too.

Best regards
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Like +2 Object -0 Anonymous guest 24 Sep 10, 22:00
well i guess that policy of national law schools and ILS still exists. I think symbiosis is also on that list.
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Like +1 Object -0 Anonymous guest 24 Sep 10, 22:33
@2: you are to blame for that. you ppl are not fighting against SILF, which is preventing liberalisation. the entry of foreign law firms will create more jobs, just as the entry of other foreign companies has created so many jobs.

all the young lawyers and law students shoud get together and fight SILF.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 24 Sep 10, 22:58
no. that policy was not used this year
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Like +1 Object -0 Anonymous guest 25 Sep 10, 06:52
Presently Law Clerks for the Supreme Court are only drawn from Law Schools which have been empanelled with it. The present the List of Law Schools empanelled with the Supreme court includes National Law University Jodhpur, National Law Institute University Bhopal, National Law School of India University Bangalore, NALSAR University of Law Hyderabad, Symbiosis Law College Pune, ILS Law College Pune, The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences Kolkata, Hidayatullah National Law University Chhattisgarh, Gujrat National Law University Gandhinagar, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University Lucknow, Rajiv Gandhi National University Patiala, Chanakya National Law University, Patna and National University of Advanced Legal Studies, Kochi.
There is also a stand-by list which includes the School of Legal studies Cochin, University of Science and Technology Cochin , Government Law College Mumbai, Department of Law Calcutta University, New Law College, Pune and faculty of Law University of Delhi. Apart from that applications for SVKM, Mumbai and AMITY Law School are under consideration for empanelment.
(See Supreme Court Annual Report 2008 -09, pg. 112
Available at Annual Report 2008-09.pdf [Please try this link: ]
As per the approved procedure for engaging Law Clerks, Law Schools which are on the panel, are required to submit applications of their final year students pursuing 5 year law courses . A committee of Judges then selects the candidates based on an interview and a list of selected candidates in accordingly prepared. Presently the selection committe consists of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Altamas Kabir and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Dalveer Bhandari.
Further, out of the two Law Clerks provided for each judge, the first candidate is to be only from one of the empanelled Law School, however in exceptional cases if a judge wishes, someone from a Law School not empanelled may be considered as the second clerk provided he otherwise fulfils all the other qualification.
Here is the list of the Clerks appointed for the Last Year.
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Like +0 Object -0 kianganz 25 Sep 10, 07:06
Wow, those are great links and information, thank you! I tried in vain looking on the SC website but I guess it must have been buried somewhere out of view.

Those with bandwidth caps, bewarned by the way, the first link is a mammoth 60MB PDF!
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 25 Sep 10, 07:45
The first link is giving me a 404 error.
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Like +0 Object -0 kianganz 25 Sep 10, 07:48
Please try this direct link to the first PDF: (the whitespaces seem to have confused the URL).
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 25 Sep 10, 07:51
Its working now!I guess that link was broken.
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Like +3 Object -0 Anonymous guest 25 Sep 10, 10:22
There are senior advocates who own BMWs but pay their juniors nothing. I request LI to name and shame these scoundrels.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 25 Sep 10, 18:56
Pay packages- You should also consider the signing amount of Rs. 51,000 that Luthra gives students as soon as they are placed with the firm. That constructively makes the starting package 13.1 . AMSS and Trilegal don't give such signing amounts.
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Like +4 Object -0 Anonymous guest 02 Oct 10, 01:20
I graduated from NLSIU Bangalore and was engaged as a law clerk under former CJI Balakrishnan at the Supreme Court between July 2008-July 2010. In my opinion, it is fallacious to compare the clerkship stipend with the salaries offered by law firms and companies. As pointed out in one of the earlier comments, 25k is far more than what most senior counsels are willing to pay. The opportunity to assist the justices with the processing of admission matters and judgment-writing is by itself an extremely valuable experience that can greatly improve research and writing skills apart from providing an informed perspective on appellate litigation. The chances of admission to top Western universities also improve (disclosure: I'm currently pursuing a LL.M. at the University of Pennsylvania and i know of several former clerks who've studied at the Ivy League institutions) but the clerkship is by no means a sole determinant for the same.

Most graduates from the top law schools tend to assume that the clerkships are a waste of time primarily because justices usually don't entrust substantial responsibilities upon those who do short term internships during the course of their studies. However, the law clerks who are engaged for a year or more are pressed into service since each bench has to process scores of admission matters every week. The dynamics of each justice's office are of course very different and the workload for the law clerks can range from light to heavy. Owing to the generational gap, clerks can be especially useful in using online resources to speed up research while also filling in the justices on newly emerging practice areas. In the US, applying for a clerkship is a very competitive process (even for Federal District Judges) and it's only the top students who are able to secure places with Federal Circuit Court judges. The Supreme Court justices choose their clerks from among the pool of law clerks in the Circuit Courts. In contrast, the top students at the best Indian law schools view the clerkships in a negative light and i often wonder if there is a false sense of entitlement at play. In that context, comparing the stipend in what is a government job with lucrative jobs in the private sector is totally inappropriate and misleading.

Sidharth Chauhan
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Like +0 Object -0 Ur Friend 14 Nov 12, 19:45
Yes to an extent ur absolutely correct.

But best place to learn is High Court ... if you get opportunity just grab it! Best forum to learn and expand ...
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