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LLM recruitments: Shunned by law firms top NLU LLM grads go in-house, teach

Indian LLM: Cause for celebration?
Indian LLM: Cause for celebration?
Exclusive: Almost none of the 2010-11 graduates with LLM masters’ degrees from India’s top three national law schools have secured jobs in top tier law firms, with most of the 118 going for academic careers, as law firms actively avoid recruiting from outgoing Indian post-graduate batches.

The data sourced by Legally India from the LLM Recruitment Co-ordination Committees (RCCs) of NLSIU Bangalore, Nalsar Hyderabad and NUJS Kolkata reveal that 47 out of 118 LLM graduates in 2010-11 opted for academic-oriented careers (see table).

Only around 5 LLM graduates - a mere 4 per cent – secured so-called “desk jobs” in law firms, in stark contrast to the campus recruitment break-ups for LLB graduates where the largest number join law firms.

LLM students from NLSIU, Nalsar and NUJS admitted that even those who managed to secure “desk jobs” did not get the most lucrative jobs in the top tier law firms but mostly managed to secure job contracts in “tier two or tier three” law firms.

Firms did not respond well to overtures by the post-graduate students, one Nalsar LLM graduate told Legally India: “We used to call all the firms and the top tier firms and either their recruitments were already over or they were not interested in taking LLMs.”

“We really do not recruit LLMs from national law schools,” confirmed one recruiter from a national law firm. “But people who after a few years of work like to do LLMs abroad, then we give them the opportunity to take them back.”

Breaking it down

Out of the 50 2011 LLM graduates from NLSIU, only two students have secured jobs in law firms such as Delhi-based Tuli & Co, while around 14 students secured jobs in corporate houses or public sector undertakings (PSUs) such as Bajaj Alliance (2), Tata Motors (2), Edelweiss (2), Larsen and Tubro (2) and Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (6).

“We had a more positive response with companies - in fact they prefer LLMs over LLBs,” claimed one Nalsar LLM pass-out. “I think it is because in law firms the employee population keeps shifting, they move from firm to firm. In companies they keep training and don't expect them to leave. They prefer LLMs because many are more senior, age-wise, and they expect them to stay on.”

Academically minded?

Around 10 other students from NLSIU secured jobs as professors or research associates in universities such as NLSIU, Kalinga Institute of Technology (KIIT) law department, National Law University (NLU) Orissa, Mumbai University and Tripura University. One other graduate from NLSIU is understood to be working in Clifford Chance’s India-based offshore legal service centre OSC.

A total of 10-11 students from all the three national law universities are either planning to pursue their PhD degrees by writing the National Eligibility Test (NET) or are aiming for higher studies in other countries.

A large number of LLM graduates - 34 graduates or around 29 per cent students from across those three schools - are pursuing other career options such as civil services, litigation or judiciary while a total of 47 graduates or 40 per cent of the LLM students have opted for teaching oriented professions, either taking up positions of research associates or faculty members in various universities.

NUJS assistant professor Shameek Sen, who had also completed his LLB and LLM degrees from NUJS, was of the opinion that LLM degrees are generally taken up for shaping an academic oriented career. “The primary focus is securing academic careers for the students,” he said. “Various teaching internships are offered to students in all national law schools. Students from NLS come to NUJS for teaching students, while NUJS LLM students also go to different universities on teaching internships.”

But he added that the mindset of students has changed now and a “few PSUs and B+ grade law-firms have given offers to NUJS LLM students.”

Competing with the masters

But LLM students across the three top national law schools aired concerns to Legally India about the lack of lucrative corporate jobs for the graduates, while some students also complained of a lack of co-ordination and support from the LLB recruitment committees, which invites leading law-firms, public sector units and corporate houses every year to offer jobs to the final year LLB students.

One member of the NUJS Campus Recruitment Committee (CRC), commenting on the lack of support given to LLM students, said: “We had once been approached at an informal level to facilitate LLM recruitment. However, we declined to pursue it because our existing workload is taxing. Also, in this tough market, at some level, we view them (LLM students) as competition. It is unfortunate, but any CRC's primary obligation has to be towards the people who elected them (i.e. the final year LLB students).”

According to one member of the 2011 Nalsar LLM batch only six or seven LLM students out of a batch of 60 came from national law schools or CLAT-belt colleges. The rest were from traditional non-CLAT colleges.

One top tier law firm graduate recruiter picked up on this as a reason for not recruiting LLMs. “If you see most of the people – those who do LLMs – they have this bachelor’s degree from not so reputed law institutions who want to get the national law school tag for post graduate [degrees],” he said.

Indian LLM 2010-11 recruitments

NLSIU

Nalsar (approx.)

NUJS

Totals

Batch strength

50

60

08 (to increase to 20 from 2012)

118

Academic/teaching careers

10

36

1

47

Law firms

2

3

-

5

Corporate houses

14

3

1

18

LPO

1

-

-

1

PhD/Higher education

3

2-3

5 (incl. 4 preparing for NET)

10-11

Other options (litigation, judiciary, civil services, etc.)

20

15 (includes 2 grads working in NGOs)

1 (litigation)

36

Source: Approximate figures from LLM students/recruitment committees surveyed by Legally India

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