How to build a Supreme Court practice in India

This article is written by Ashutosh with the aim of elucidating how a lawyer can develop a successful practice in the Supreme Court of India. In this article, the author has covered all the aspects related to the practice of law in the Supreme Court of India, covering additional topics such as Senior Advocate, AOR, eligibility criteria, how to become a Supreme Court lawyer, skills required, tips, issues and challenges faced by young lawyers etc.

There are a lot of students who get into law schools with a dream of becoming lawyers and having successful practice in the Supreme Court of India. Every year, hundreds and thousands of law students graduate in India who want to pursue litigation as their career and want to become successful Supreme Court lawyers. The Supreme Court is the court of the highest authority in India and becoming a Supreme Court lawyer is in itself a matter of prestige. However, there are various law students who don’t know about the functioning of the Supreme Court and what all it takes to become a successful Supreme Court lawyer.

If you are also a law student who is aspiring to become a successful Supreme Court lawyer but you don’t know when and how to start your preparation for the same, then don’t worry, because we have got you covered. In this article, we will be dealing with all the important aspects related to the practice as a Supreme Court lawyer.

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The Supreme Court of India is the court of the highest authority in India and it is also known as the court of the final appeal. The Supreme Court of India was established in accordance with the Government of India Act, 1935. The purpose of this court was to settle the disputes between the federal states and the provinces and it also heard various appeals against the judgements given by the High Courts. After India got Independence in 1947, the Judicial committee and the federal court of the Privy Council were replaced by the Supreme Court of India in the year 1950 and the Constitution of India envisaged for a Supreme Court that would consist of a Chief Justice and 7 other Judges. The number of judges of the Supreme Court was increased by the Parliament after amending the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956 and the latest amendment was done in 2019 in which the number of judges was increased from 30 to 33 (excluding the Chief Justice of India).  As of now there are a total of thirty four judges including the Chief Justice of India. However, currently the Supreme Court is functioning with a strength of 31 judges. 

The Supreme Court has a duty to perform various functions in order to safeguard the interests of the parties and to provide justice to the citizens of India. Some of the most prominent functions of the Supreme Court of India are to deal with the appeals against the judgements and orders of the various High Courts, tribunals and all other courts. The Supreme Court also takes up the cases that have been referred to it by the President. One of the most important functions of the Supreme Court is given under Articles 131 and 143.

The Supreme Court of India deals with three kinds of jurisdictions, namely the original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction. Original jurisdiction (Article 131) of the Supreme Court is the power of the court through which it can take up a matter as the court of the first instance. Article 143 confers the advisory jurisdiction upon the Supreme Court by the virtue of which the President of India can request for the advisory opinion of the Supreme Court on any question of fact or law that holds public importance. The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is given under Article 132 of the Indian Constitution and it states that the Supreme Court has the power to decide an appeal against the judgement of a High Court, provided that the High Court certifies that the matter involves a substantial question of law.

The Supreme Court of India also has a provision to consult the President of India in order to regulate the procedure and practice of the court. All the constitutional cases of the country are dealt with by the Constitutional bench consisting of five or more judges whereas all the other cases can be decided by a bench consisting of at least three Supreme Court Judges. According to Article 130 of the Constitution of India, Delhi is declared as the seat of the Supreme Court of India and it has the power to assign any other place as the seat of the Supreme Court. This provision is optional and not mandatory.

Section 16 of the Advocate Act, 1961 talks about two categories of advocates, namely the senior advocates and the other ones includes all other advocates and junior advocates. An advocate can get a designation of a Senior Advocate if the High Court or the Supreme Court is of the opinion that such an advocate has certain abilities and qualifications, and he possesses special knowledge and experience in the field of law and he deserves to get a distinction from all other lawyers who have less qualification and experience. However, all the senior advocates in the area of practice are being subjected to certain restrictions which are prescribed by the Bar Council of India in the interest of the legal profession. 

A senior advocate is not allowed to file a vakalatnama or present a case in any tribunal or court or before any person of authority as mentioned under Section 30 of the Advocates Act, 1961. Explanation of this rule makes it clear that to act basically means to file for an appearance or application or any pleading in any tribunal or any person of authority mentioned under Section 30 of the Advocates Act,1961 or to do any other act other than the act of pleading that is required or authorised by law to be done by a party in such tribunals or courts. 

This Section further states that a senior advocate is not eligible to appear in the Supreme Court without an Advocate on Record. This rule also states that a senior advocate is free to make any concession or give any kind of undertakings while giving an argument on behalf of his clients on instructions from the junior advocates. A senior advocate also does not have an authority to accept directly from a client, any instruction or brief, to appear in any of the courts or tribunal or before any person or other authority in India.

Guidelines for the designation of senior advocates by the Supreme Court of India

  • A lawyer who wants to become a senior advocate must have a standing at the Bar as an Advocate for a period of at least ten years or he must combinedly be an advocate and a District and session judge for a period of ten years or he should be a judicial member of any tribunal or court in India.
  • A lawyer who wanted to become a senior advocate must primarily practise in the Supreme Court of India, but the advocates who have domain expertise in practising before specialised tribunals may be given some concession.
  • According to the latest guidelines, the age limit for applying for the position of a senior advocate in the Supreme Court of India is forty five years unless the age limit is relaxed. The age limit for becoming a Senior advocate can be relaxed by the Committee for the Designation of Senior Advocates and it can also be done in a case if the appointment of the senior advocate is being recommended by the Chief Justice of India or by any judge of the Supreme Court.

Criteria for becoming a senior advocate

  • The latest guidelines have a revised and new point system for the purpose of evaluating the lawyers who are eligible to become a senior advocate. 
  • The new criteria is inclusive of two factors, and that is the number of years of practice a lawyer has gone through and the body of their work. 
  • The breakup of the point system is as follows:
    • Number of years of practice: All the applicants will receive a maximum of 20 points, of which 10 points will be for 10 years of practice and 1 point each will be for every additional year of the practice.
    • Judgments unreported and reported, work of pro bono nature and the expertise in Constitution domain has 50 points.
    • Test of suitability and personality that is based on the interview consists of 25 points.
    • Publication of academic articles, experience of teaching and assignments in the field of law, guest lectures delivered in law schools and professional institutions connected with law consists of 5 marks.

Selection

  • The selection for the purpose of designation as a senior advocate will be done by the Committee for Designation of Senior Advocates. This committee is headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) as its Chairperson.
  • The applications for the purpose of designation as a senior advocate are invited once every year and the committee meets twice every year.
  • The committee will consist of a permanent secretariat, the members of which will be selected by the CJI and the committee members.

An Advocate on Record (AOR) is a legal professional who has the authority to practise before the Supreme Court of India. They are majorly responsible for filing various applications and representing the matters of their client in front of the Supreme Court. An AOR has a special privilege and that is, they are the only legal professionals who can plead in the premises of the Supreme Court. Even a senior advocate of the Supreme Court can not plead in front of the judges of the Supreme Court until and unless he is assisted by an AOR.

There are various challenges that a lawyer faces in order to become an AOR, and one of them is clearing the AOR exam. In order to become an AOR, a lawyer is required to successfully clear the exam conducted by the Supreme Court of India. The examination conducted by the Supreme Court of India for the appointments of AOR is very competitive and it covers multiple subjects and various topics, such as civil law, constitutional law, procedural law, criminal law etc.

Once a lawyer successfully qualifies the AOR exam, they are registered with the Supreme Court of India and they are assigned with a unique code. These lawyers also have a special responsibility and that is to have a chamber at the premises of the Supreme Court of India.

AORs play an extremely vital role in the legal system of India. They are responsible for making sure that the interest of their clients is safeguarded when they represent them in the Supreme Court to fight for their justice. 

There are various responsibilities and duties that an AOR performs and some of their major responsibilities are as follows:

  • Assisting the Supreme Court of India in maintaining the rule of law and in the proper administration of justice.
  • Drafting and preparing various legal documents such as vakalatnama, appeals, special leave petitions. 
  • Representing and filing matters before the Supreme Court of India.
  • Providing legal advice to their clients on legal matters.
  • Appearing before the Supreme Court of India in order to safeguard the interest of their clients.

Becoming an Advocate on Record in the Supreme Court of India is an extremely prestigious job. In order to become an AOR, a lawyer needs to have a deep understanding of the procedures of the Supreme Court and it also requires a lawyer to have an in-depth understanding of all the legal matters that are being carried out in the Supreme Court. AORs basically serve as a bridge between the Supreme Court and their clients and they also help various organisations and individuals in navigating through the various complex legal processes in the court with the highest authority in India.

Criminal litigation

Most of the legal aspirants dream to have a successful practice in the Supreme Court of India. But there are certain steps that a person must follow in order to achieve their dream and become a Supreme Court lawyer. In this part of the article, we have given a step by step procedure that law aspirants can follow to become a Supreme Court lawyer:

Scoring minimum 45% in 12th boards examination

If you are a school student and have decided to pursue law as a career, you must score a minimum of 45% in your 12th boards examination because the criteria to sit in Common Law Admission Test is to have minimum 45% marks in 12th boards examination and even many reputed private colleges only accept students who fulfil this criteria. Many private colleges also give scholarships to students who have good percentages in their 12th boards examination. However, nowadays private law colleges are accepting students on CLAT scores as well. If you are someone who has completed their bachelors degree from arts, science or commerce and have now decided to pursue law, you can enrol yourself in law colleges or universities that provides 3 years LLB degree like Delhi University, Symbiosis law college (Pune), BHU (Varanasi), ILS law college (Pune), etc.

Enrollment in a law college

In order to become a Supreme Court lawyer, the first important thing you need to do is get into a law school, because this is the place where you will build your base and will create the foundation of your career. After getting yourself enrolled in a law college, you must try to do internships with advocates and good law firms. For those who want to become a Supreme Court lawyer, it is advised to do internships with lawyers from the Supreme Court , as it will provide them with an experience of working in the Supreme Court. If you do regular internships in the Supreme Court, you might get a hang of how things are done there and it will be much easier for you once you start your own practice after law school ends. 

Registration with Bar Council of India after law college

Once you receive your degree from the law college, the first and foremost step that you should take to become an advocate is to get registered with the Bar Council of India. It is mandatory for lawyers to get registered with the Bar Council of India in order to practise in any court of India. Different states of India have their respective Bar Councils and you must get yourself registered with the state where you want to practise.

This article talks about the lawyers of the Supreme Court of India, so these candidates should enrol with the Bar Council of Delhi. One can obtain the enrolment application from head office or branch office of the Delhi Bar Council. The Bar council of Delhi’s library is located at Tis Hazari, Delhi and lawyers can also obtain application form from there after making a payment of Rs. 1000/- 

Passing the All India Bar Exam (AIBE)

Every year the Bar Council of India hosts the All India Bar Exam or the AIBE, and every law student who graduates from law college sits for this exam. Every lawyer who wants to practise law in any of the courts in India needs to clear the All India Bar exam in order to become a certified lawyer in India and practise successfully as a lawyer in the Indian courts. This exam consists of hundred marks and is held every year by the Bar Council of India. In this exam a law student needs to solve a hundred objective type questions within a time period of three hours and thirty minutes. This exam does not contain any negative marking. Once the candidate successfully passes this examination and gets the ABIE certificate, he/she becomes eligible to practise law in any of the courts in India as a lawyer.

Find a job as a junior lawyer under a senior advocate of Supreme Court

After registering yourself with the Bar Council of India, you become eligible to practise in any court of India. It is not easy for new lawyers to start their own practice in the Supreme Court thus, most lawyers always start their practising career as junior advocate of any well renowned Supreme Court lawyer. There are many benefits of starting a career as junior assistant to some experienced lawyer. The first and foremost being that you get to learn the work, be it drafting or arguing in the Court. Senior lawyers always help their juniors in getting familiar with all kinds of work. Also, as a junior lawyer, you will make many connections which will help you to get clients in the future. So, overall taking up a job as a junior lawyer would be the best step if you want to become a Supreme Court lawyer.

Practise in lower courts

Once a lawyer clears the AIBE, he is set to practise law in any of the courts in India. It is suggested for all the budding lawyers to start their career of law practise in lower courts. This is because they will get more opportunities and more knowledge in lower courts, because the Supreme Court is often ruled by the senior advocates and advocates on records. Once you gain enough experience and knowledge from lower and subordinate courts you can move to the Supreme Court. Practising law in lower and subordinate courts have two fold benefits, and that is, lawyers who practise law in lower courts in their initial days, they gain ground level knowledge and it helps the lawyers in understanding the practises and procedures of court in a better manner and also gives the experience that a lawyer can use while practising law in the Supreme Court of India. 

Gain knowledge and practical experience

After you have successfully completed your initial years of practise at the subordinate courts or in the High Court, you can move forward and work under a Supreme Court advocate as a trainee or junior lawyer. By doing this, you will get to know all the important insights of Supreme Court practice and you will also get to know how Supreme Court lawyers deal with their cases. In short it will take around six years to start your practice in the Supreme Court of India.

Qualify the Advocate on Record (AOR) exam

An Advocate on Record is a special category of lawyer in the Supreme Court of India, only these lawyers in India have the authority to plead in the Supreme Court of India on behalf of their clients. Every year the Supreme Court of India conducts this exam for all the lawyers who wish to practise in the Supreme Court of India. This particular test is conducted to check the skills, knowledge and calibre of the lawyers and whether they are fit or not to practise in the court of highest authority of India. After the lawyer or the candidate successfully clears the Advocate on Record exam he is qualified to practise law in the Indian Supreme Court, and he will also be registered as an Advocate on Record member in the Supreme Court Bar Association.

Holding an office

Once the candidate successfully clears the Advocate on Record exam, it becomes mandatory for him to hold an office within 10 miles from the premises of the Supreme Court of India and he is also required to appoint a registered office clerk at his office. Once he has complied with all the formalities, he will be appointed as an Advocate on Record by the Judge of the Supreme Court. 

Practising law in the Supreme Court of India

Once you are done with all the above mentioned things, such as you have qualified the AOR exam, you have established an office within the premises of the Supreme Court, you are all set to practise independently in the court of highest authority and represent their clients and take up cases according to your speciality in the field of law. 

The legal profession has always been considered as one of the most noble professions and lawyers of the Supreme Court are considered as the pillars of justice in society as they practise law in the Apex Court of the country. The Advocates Act, 1961 contains rules and regulations concerning lawyers of India and also contains their rights and duties. These rules provide the methods for practice and procedure to be followed in the Supreme Court. The above statutory act does not clearly demarcate types of lawyers, but through a bare perusal of the act following types of lawyers have been described.

The Advocates Act has made a provision for distinction between Senior advocates and other advocates. While the Supreme Court Rules, 2013 has made provisions for Advocate on Record. 

  • Senior Advocates- Section 16 of the Advocates Act, 1961 create two classes of lawyers i.e. Senior advocate and other Advocates. The Supreme Court or the High Court may, with the consent of the advocate, designate him/her as a senior advocate if in the opinion of the court, the concerned advocate has required ability, special knowledge or experience in law and he deserves to be designated as such. It is necessary for a senior advocate to appear in the Court with an Advocate on Record in the Supreme Court. Many great advocates have been designated as Senior advocates in the Supreme Court such as Late Shri Fali S Nariman, Late Shri P.P. Rao, Shri K.K Venugopalan etc. These lawyers have left a mark in legal history due to their immense knowledge. The designation of  a Senior Advocate in the Supreme Court is of immense glory and respect in the society and only few deserving advocates are designated as Senior Advocates. 
  • Advocate on Record- It is not a designation given by any court rather one becomes AOR only after passing the AOR exam conducted by the Supreme Court. In order to sit in the exam there are certain eligibility criteria that one has to fulfil. The exam consists of 4 papers and the exam is conducted every year. Not all the practising lawyers in the Supreme Court can file any  document or a Vakalatnama, and only Advocates on Record have the entitlement to file these. Thus, AORs have great value in the Supreme Court as the ordinary advocates cannot file any document in the Court without the help of an AOR. 
  • Other Advocates- Other Advocates are the normal advocates with no special designation. They are usually enrolled as advocates under the Bar Council of any state maintained under the Advocates Act, 1961. In any other court except for the Supreme Court of India, they can appear, argue and file any document, however in the Supreme Court, these lawyers can only argue and cannot file any document or matter before the court. These lawyers are usually referred to as junior advocates in normal parlance. 

There are various eligibility criteria that a lawyer needs to follow and comply with in order to become an Advocate on Record in the Supreme Court of India. All the eligibility criteria that a lawyer needs to follow are mentioned under Rules 4 and 5 under Order IV of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013, and the eligibility criteria are as follows:

  • Under the Order IV, it is mentioned that any lawyer who is not a senior advocate, if he fulfils all the conditions that are mentioned in Rule 5, can get himself registered in the Supreme Court of India as an Advocate on Record. Provided that notwithstanding anything that is mentioned under the Rule 5, any lawyer who has already got his name registered with the Registrar as an Advocate on Record can immediately get himself enrolled as an AOR before 8th of September, 1962.
  • Any lawyer who wants to become an Advocate on Record should have a practise of minimum four years as an advocate. Basically his name should be registered under any state bar council for that particular period of time.
  • The lawyer who wants to become an Advocate on Record is required to train under an already existing Advocate on Record for a period of one year. Once he completes his training for a period of one year he will have to appear for the Advocate on Record examination.
  • After the lawyer successfully excels in the Advocate on Record examination, it is mandatory for him to establish his personal office within a radius of ten miles from the premisses of the Supreme Court, and he has followed all these eligibility criterias the judge of the Indian Supreme Court will accept him as a qualified Advocate on Record.
  • The lawyer who wished to become an Advocate on record must be enrolled with any of the state bar councils.
  • Senior lawyers of the Supreme Court can not become an Advocate on Record.

An Advocate on Record in the Indian Supreme Court is a legal professional who is registered in the Supreme Court of India, and is eligible to plead on behalf of their clients in front of the Supreme Court. Advocate on Record plays a very crucial role in the legal proceedings of the Supreme Court. There are various procedures that a lawyer needs to perform and various requirements that a lawyer needs to fulfil in order to practise as an Advocate on Record in the Supreme Court of India. They are as follows:

  • Registration- First and the most important thing that a lawyer needs to do in order to practise as an Advocate on Record is to get himself registered with the Supreme Court of India.
  • Eligibility- To become an Advocate on Record, a lawyer also needs to fulfil certain eligibility criteria. such as, he must have practised at the bar for a minimum period of four years and he should have also cleared the Advocate on Record examination conducted by the supreme court of India. 
  • Rights and responsibilities- Becoming an Advocate on record is not an easy task, and once a lawyer clears the Advocate on record examination, he is required to perform various responsibilities during his tenure as an Advocate on record. The main responsibilities of an advocate on record is filing and drafting various applications and petitions, and various other legal documents, as well as representing their clients before the Indian Supreme Court. Advocate on Records are the only legal professionals who are eligible to argue in the supreme court.
  • Expertise- In order to have a successful practice in the Supreme Court of India, an Advocate on Record is required to have expertise on all the legal matters and subjects and he must also be well-versed with all the legal procedures and functioning of the Supreme Court. 
  • Advocate on Record Examination- Every year the Supreme Court of India conducts an Advocate on Record examination to elect the eligible lawyers to become a Advocate on Record. This examination is a very rigorous and competitive one and passing it is not easy for all the lawyers. In this examination lawyers are asked various practical questions, and through these questions the knowledge of the candidate is checked.
  • Client representation- One of the most important work of an Advocate on Record is to  represent their clients and defend them in front of the Supreme Court. The Advocate on Record plays a very crucial role in making sure that all the necessary documents and procedures are followed properly and accurately.  
  • Importance of an Advocate on Record- The Advocate on Record plays a very significant role in the Indian legal system, this is because they are instrumental in pursuing and initiating various legal actions in the Indian Supreme Court, the court with the highest authority in India.

Becoming an Advocate on Record is a very prestigious job in the Indian legal system and especially in the Supreme Court of India and this profession requires a deep understanding of the courts procedure and practises and a high level experience of legal matters. 

If you want to know all about the Advocate on Record examination and how to successfully crack the exam, then click on this link.

The lawyers of the Supreme Court play a very pivotal and critical role in shaping the legal decisions that have far-reaching implications on all the parts of our country. The impact of Supreme Court lawyers is evident through all the cases in which they represent their clients and argue before the court of highest authority, influencing not only the interests of individuals but also setting precedents that guide the future rulings or cases.

One of the key aspects of the influence of a Supreme Court lawyer lies in their skill and ability to present strong persuasive arguments that are grounded in the Constitutional principles and legal precedent. Lawyers extensively research and analyse all the relevant and landmark case laws, Constitutional provisions, statutes to develop a strong foundation for all their arguments. The lawyers of the Indian Supreme Court craft compelling narratives to convince the judges of the position of their clients, often relying on the deep and extensive understanding of legal policies and doctrines. 

The Supreme Court lawyers also have a responsibility of presenting diverse perspectives on various complex legal issues. These lawyers advocate for justice by representing their clients from all kinds of backgrounds and interests, making sure that all the voices of the country are heard during deliberations. This inclusivity strengthens the democracy of the Indian Judicial system while making more well-rounded and reasonable decisions. 

One of the other most important roles of a Supreme Court lawyer is to create social changes in the society by choosing which case they will take on their own or pro bono. Lawyers have the power to address all systemic injustices or champion the rights of marginalised communities. 

The Advocate on Records not only represents their clients in the court of highest authority but they also safeguard the interest of all the citizens of India by fighting for a good cause. Other than arguing before the Supreme Court of India, these lawyers also play a very important behind the scenes role, such as drafting amicus briefs supporting certain positions or providing expert advice on various complex legal matters. Through all these contributions, these lawyers provide valuable insights into various intricate areas of law that may escape scrutiny otherwise. 

There are various skills that a Supreme Court lawyer must have in order to establish a successful career. Some of the most important skills are listed below.

  • Networking: Networking is one of the most crucial things in the life of a lawyer. The reason that most lawyers put a lot of emphasis on developing networking skills is because they know that in the field of law, networking is more useful than knowledge. Networking can get you clients and will help you build your reputation. In short, networking will build your whole career if you use it wisely. Make sure to connect with all the seniors in your field and make a strong connection with them.
  • Stay updated: It is very essential for a lawyer to remain updated with all the rules and procedures of the Supreme Court and along with that you should also have an in-depth knowledge about the recent legislations, amendments and case developments. If you do so you can assist your clients in time and help them solve their legal issues. 
  • Legal research: Lawyers are required to do a lot of research work on various complex issues, thus, it is extremely important for a lawyer to develop extraordinary research skills. Having good legal research skills can save you a lot of time in dealing with complex cases. 
  • Drafting and writing skills: Every lawyer is required to have excellent writing and drafting skills in order to become a successful lawyer. Similarly, if you want to have a successful career in the Supreme Court and you want to excel there, then make sure to polish your drafting skills that are commonly used in the Supreme Court. Draftings are a very crucial element in the field of law thus, having proficiency in it can help you a lot in establishing a successful career in law.

Establishing an independent law practice is not an easy task, that is because there are numerous challenges that a lawyer needs to face while establishing his independent practice in the Supreme Court of India, challenges such as financial burden and lack of clients are of biggest concern. Independent legal practice means making solo decisions, self sufficiency, self assessment, self management etc. everything on your own.

If you want to become an Independent lawyer in the Supreme Court of India, then you must prepare yourself before you leave your senior. Strategic planning and proper implementation of plans is very crucial when establishing an independent practice. Here are a few things that you must keep in your mind while going for an independent practice of law in the Supreme Court of India.

  • Strategic planning: Strategic planning is one of the most crucial things for a lawyer when switching to an independent practise of law. Make a plan of saving money that you can use in the initial days of your independent practice, because there is a probability that you won’t be earning enough money to sustain yourself in the initial days of your independent practice if you are a new lawyer. Thus, prepare a plan on how you will establish your career and what steps you will take to procure the clients and how you will build your reputation in the legal field, everything must be pre-planned. If you do not have a proper plan then there is a possibility that your independent practice is not going to flourish.
  • Work under a senior lawyer who has an independent practice: Before you establish your independent practice of law in the Supreme Court of India make sure that you work under a Senior Advocate. Take up independent briefs of the lawyer and try to take additional work from which you can earn and save extra money for your future. By doing this you will get an idea of how things are and how things work in an independent practice. Make sure to gather valuable insights from the senior lawyer during the tenure you work under them, by doing this you will gain extra practical knowledge and you will be able to establish a successful career in law. One more important thing that you must do is to establish a good connection with your senior so that he can help you in your future.
  • Having a good mentor: It is very important for a lawyer who is establishing his independent practice of law in the Supreme Court of India to have a good mentor. Most of the lawyers who have good mentors never fail in their practice because their mentors save them from making mistakes that they have made during their practice. There is a common misconception among all the lawyers that they want to become self-made lawyers without having any mentor or godfather, but that is not the case. Having a good mentor can benefit you in numerous ways. Always try to learn as much as possible from your mentors and seniors, it is not necessary that you follow the same path as them but you can gain some additional knowledge and experience from them, it’s just that you will have someone to guide and you will be able to prevent yourself from any unnecessary problems. If you have a good mentor then he can also help you in procuring clients as well.
  • Build your own brand: When establishing an independent practice of law the most important and crucial thing that a lawyer needs to do is to build a brand and reputation among all the legal professionals in the Supreme Court of India. Being a lawyer you can’t do any kind of advertisement in order to promote yourself or to build a brand because lawyers are restricted from doing any kind of advertisement in India. You can create your brand through delivering exceptional services to your clients, by being consistent and dealing with high stake matters. 
  • Networking: Networking is a very crucial element in the field of law, it is necessary for all the legal professionals to have a strong network consisting of senior lawyers, mentors and other eminent personalities. Having strong networking skills can be a game changer for all the lawyers who want to establish a successful independent practice in the Supreme Court of India because if you have strong networking skills then you will get plenty of clients without any struggle. You can create a strong network through linkedIn, connect with the pioneers of your field and have a conversation with them, making sure that you leave a good impact on them. LinkedIn is one of the most useful tools that a lawyer can use for building his network. 
  • Select your niche area: Finding and selecting a particular niche area in the initial days of your independent practice is very crucial for all the lawyers who want to have a successful career in the Supreme Court of India. Rather than dealing with all kinds of issues it would be ideal for you to stick to two or three particular areas of practice and build your expertise in those fields. It is better to become a master of one than becoming a jack of all trades because if you become a jack of all trades then you will have knowledge in multiple areas of law but expertise in none. Focusing on certain specific areas will help you in reducing your competition and it also increases your efficiency in your area of law. There are also high chances that you will get new clients through referrals from other advocates who don’t deal into that field of practice. 

Most of the Indian lawyers don’t know the roadmap they need to follow in order to establish a successful Supreme Court practice. One of the most common mistakes that they make is getting stuck at the knowledge level and assuming that the rest of the things will fall into line automatically over time, but that is not the case. Most of the lawyers don’t focus on developing new skills and they just get stuck with the books and bare acts. Skills are extremely critical for all the lawyers and having only theoretical knowledge is not enough. 

It is suggested for all the new and budding lawyers who want to establish a successful practice in the Supreme Court of India to work with senior advocates, AORs and other organisations to learn more and get more practical knowledge. Publish articles related to the common issues that most of the clients face in the Supreme Court. After this, you must outreach to various people who you think might need your services, similarly reach out to principal associates, partners, AORs and other potential clients and check whether they need your services or not. 

Roadmap for lawyers with an experience of 4 years or more

  • If you are a senior lawyer or you have a practice of four or more than forty years in the field of law and you want to move to the Supreme Court, then your time for preparation is now. Make sure to aim for the latest AOR exam that is going to happen and make a plan and study accordingly. 
  • Along with your exam preparation make sure to build your track record by helping all the other Advocate on Records and senior advocates at the Supreme Court in a remote manner, assisting them mainly in drafting and research work.
  • Develop skills such as arbitration and corporate litigation to help your clients, as in the Supreme Court these skills are in great demand.
  • Start reaching out to all the startups who are at their initial stage and network with them and provide your services to them and create a good reputation.

Roadmap for lawyers with an experience of less than 4 years

  • If you are a lawyer who has just started his career and has an experience of less than four years in the field of law, then you have a longer period of time to prepare for the examination, and this gives you an advantage to prepare for the examination in a more planned and systematic manner.
  • Focus more on developing your skills and make sure to track your record for corporate litigation. Reach out to all the startups and help them with drafting contracts, compliances and various other initial works. This is one of the best ways to develop trust and could hold the key to gaining a lot of your own clients and more matters of arbitration and litigation in the coming next few years.
  • The main goal in the life of a lawyer is to build a position of trust with his clients and make sure that he safeguard their interest and represent them successfully in the court. You can build a  good track record and reputation if you help your client in resolving his disputes. After that, you can start charging and the clients will happily pay you after looking at your track record.
  • Ideally, the goal of a new lawyer should be to go independent as soon as possible, if you are working under a senior lawyer then this can take you around six months. Once you start earning around thirty thousand to fifty thousand rupees per month, you can build the confidence to do this. 
  • Start the preparation for AOR exam in your initial days and make sure to focus on key topics such as drafting, practice and procedure of Supreme Court etc. You can assist AOR’s who are already well established in the Supreme Court with drafting and research work and earn from there too.
  • Double down on the AOR exam preparation as the exam draws near.
  • Once you qualify the AOR exam and get registered as an official AOR in the Supreme Court of India, you can earn additional money from all the Supreme Court matters, higher payments in district/High Courts and you can then charge even more. If you are a successful AOR in the Supreme Court then you can easily earn up to two lakh rupees per month.
  • Plus, if you want to then you can establish your own law firm. If you build a brand and good reputation in the legal field, then most of the law firms will also want to hire you as a partner of their firm in order to expand their litigation practice.

Roadmap for college students

If you are a college student and want to work as a Supreme Court lawyer then, these are things that you must follow for a successful career.

  • Focus more on corporate litigation and assist startups in India that are in their initial stage. Make sure to work under AOR’s as interns and assist them in research and drafting work.
  • Even if you are a law student who has recently graduated, then also you must work under an AOR as you will get to learn a lot of valuable insights.
  • If you are a college student then make sure to do long-term internships in your internships break. Intern after your class hours as well if you have a flexible time table that allows you to do so. You can intern under lawyers who deal with matters of real estate, NCLT, arbitration, tax matters and various other high stakes matters, etc.
  • Keep yourself updated with all rules and procedures of the Supreme Court.
  • Determine if you want to become an AOR then, make sure to prepare for the AOR examination from the beginning because it is not an easy exam.
  • You can get some opportunities to represent your startup clients in arbitration and other commercial matters if they face any such issue. If you are able to help them, then you will build a good reputation in front of them and you will also get a good stipend amount. You can also get opportunities to file Special Leave Petitions as well and you will also get an opportunity to brief your seniors and partners and get experience of arguing yourself.

There are various young lawyers in India who want to become a Supreme Court lawyer, but they don’t know that becoming a successful Supreme Court lawyer in India requires a lot of planning and preparation. There are various parameters that are meant to be followed by a lawyer in order to practise in the Supreme Court of India.

In case of a new and young lawyer who has recently started his practise in the Supreme Court of India, he must have a practise of one year under a Advocate on record. It is given in the Certificate of Practice and Renewal Rules, 2014 issued by the Bar Council of India and it lays down certain conditions that are needed to be taken into concern and only after that a lawyer can be enrolled in the Supreme Court of India and continue his practice thereafter. There are various other conditions that must be also followed. 

  • For all the young and new lawyers who are yet to be registered at the Supreme Court of India, must have a post qualification experience of about 5 years which must be inclusive of 3 years of litigation practice in any trial court and two years in any of the High Court. Only after all these requirements are fulfilled the lawyer is supposed to appear in training conducted by the AOR.
  • All the individuals who want to become a Supreme Court lawyer must clear the examination conducted by the Board of Examiners under the governance and regulation of the Supreme Court. Once this examination is cleared, the lawyer is supposed to hold a register office which must be situated within ten miles from the location of the Supreme Court. The office of the lawyer must be accompanied by a registered clerk. 

If you want to know more about the AOR examination and other important details related to it then click here.

There is a lot of competition and politics in the field of law. Especially the young lawyers who come to practise law in the Supreme Court of India face a lot of issues in their initial days of practise. It is not an easy task to sustain and build a successful career in the field of law, especially in the Supreme Court. Some of the issues that are commonly faced by most of the young lawyers in practising law at Supreme Court are:

  • Economic issues: This is one of the greatest concerns for all the young lawyers who want to establish their independent practice of law in the Supreme Court of India. In the Initial stage all the young lawyers have to struggle a lot in order to find clients and any kind of independent work. In litigation especially in the Supreme Court there are various big players with brand value and strong recognition who rule over the legal field and all the clients want to avail their services and none of the clients trust new lawyers. In such cases, it becomes extremely difficult for all the young lawyers to survive in such an atmosphere.
  • Legal Issues: Indian laws are extremely vast and old. There have been various amendments in several statutes and still there are a lot of loopholes that need to be fixed, which means more amendments are required. The young lawyers aim to bring in a change in the legal system, adjusting and applying the old and existing laws have become difficult for the young lawyers.
  • Financial constraints: Starting a law career can be extremely financially challenging for all the young lawyers. Many young lawyers struggle to make their ends meet and earn money that could help them in fulfilling their basic needs, especially in the initial years of the practice. Unpaid internships and low-paying internships are also very common and it makes it even more difficult to cover the expenses of law school, such as rent, student loans, and daily living costs. 
  • Ethical dilemmas: Young advocates often face various ethical dilemmas that are extremely challenging to navigate. Such as winning cases, meeting all the deadlines, and pleasing their clients and these things sometimes collide with their ethical standards. Upholding the professional ethics is paramount, but it can become extremely difficult in the face of competing demands.

Almost hundreds and thousands of lawyers graduate every year in India with a dream to become one of the best Supreme Court lawyers, but they don’t know how and when to start and what all challenges and hurdles that they will have to go through in this journey. Becoming a successful Supreme Court lawyer is not an easy task, and in order to achieve this, a lot of hardwork and dedication is required. Roadmap to a successful practise in the Supreme Court starts from your initial days of practise and you need to determine your field of expertise so that you can build your experience and gain enough knowledge in that field.

Here in this article, the author has highlighted all the necessary things that a lawyer needs to do in order to have a successful practice of law in the Supreme Court. The author has also talked about how young lawyers can become successful lawyers and what are the challenges that they will face in their journey. If you follow all the things that are mentioned in this article then you will surely be able to make a smooth pass for your career as a successful Supreme Court lawyer.

Is there any particular exam that one has to give to become a Supreme Court lawyer?

Although, there is no particular exam for determining eligible advocates who can practise in the Supreme Court, legal aspirants must pass the bar examination conducted by different states to become an advocate to practise in the Supreme Court. 

Can I start practising in the Supreme Court right after completing my LLB?

Yes, you can easily start your practice in the Supreme Court right after you complete your LLB, however, you will have to pass the Bar examination conducted by the Bar Council of India. It is always advised to fresh law graduates to start their practice in the Supreme Court as a junior lawyer to some experienced Supreme Court advocate who has a good clientele and connections. This will help the fresh graduates to garner connections and expose them to quality work which will definitely help them in building their own practice. 

How should law students prepare for AOR exams conducted by the Supreme Court, in order to crack it at first attempt?

The Board of Examiners of the Supreme Court conducts AOR examination every year in New Delhi. The exam consists of four papers which are held for a period of three hours each. As mentioned above, the papers include, Practice and Procedure, Advocacy and Professional Ethics, Drafting and Case Laws. The eligibility criteria for giving AOR examination is that, candidates must have a practice of at least 4 years, newly fresh graduates cannot give AOR examination. However, if you want you can start reading for the subjects from your law school days only. Ideally if you give six months of time to prepare for this examination, you can easily crack this examination. 

What are the skills that I will need to become a Supreme Court Lawyer?

There is no special skill set that Supreme Court Lawyers need, but there are certain skills that every lawyer needs to become a good practitioner. These skills include, logical reasoning, critical analysis, speaking skills, time management, communication skills. As you will gain experience as a practitioner, your skills will keep on polishing. These skills are essential for any lawyer and one must try to improve them as much as possible. 

Can any lawyer file documents in the Supreme Court?

No, not any lawyer can file documents like Vakalatnama or other such documents in the Supreme Court. Only Advocate on record is eligible to file such documents in the Supreme Court. The ordinary lawyers of the Supreme Court can only make arguments and present before the judges. 

How much does a Supreme Court Lawyer earn in a year?

Supreme Court lawyers or any lawyer for that matter do not get a fixed monthly salary per month, and their salary depends on case to case basis. And lawyers take fees from their clients for each hearing. When it comes to junior lawyers, they are paid regularly by the senior lawyers, in whose chamber the juniors practice. But the payment given to junior lawyers isn’t very high, ranging from rs 15000/- per month to anywhere around rs 35000/- to rs 40000/- per month (depending on the skills of lawyers). The senior lawyers or experienced lawyers of the Supreme Court take anywhere around rs. 40,000/- to even  3-6 lacs per hearing. Senior lawyers even charge rs. 15,00,000/- per hearing. 

Does cracking the bar examination require a lot of studying?

Bar examinations are comparatively easier to any other competitive exams that lawyers give. If you have been attentive in your law school and you understand the basic concepts of all the subjects, you will easily be able to pass the Bar examination. Another good point with bar examinations is that they are open book examinations, so you can easily look up the section’s number in case you forget any. 

Is there a difference between a lawyer and an advocate?

Though the words lawyer and advocate are used interchangeably by common people, there is a difference between them. A lawyer is any person who has graduated from law school and got his LLB degree, however, an advocate is a person who has passed the bar examination of India. Only an advocate can act as a legal representative in the court of law and general lawyers who have not passed the bar examination cannot act as legal representative. Thus, every advocate is a lawyer but not all lawyers are advocates. 

How can I establish my own practice in the Supreme Court?

If you are still a school student and you want to become a Supreme Court lawyer in the future, the first and foremost thing that you must do to start your practice is to enrol in a law school recognised by the Bar Council of India. After completing your degree, you may give the bar examination and become an advocate. And soon after, you must join the chamber of some senior advocate in the Supreme Court to gain experience and knowledge. You can also give the AOR examination as, AOR lawyers in the Supreme Court have much greater value. After becoming an AOR you shall continue your practise with the senior lawyer and gain as many connections as possible. The only way to get a good clientele is through connections. In this article we have mentioned the roadmap to become a Supreme Court lawyer in an exhaustive manner.

Is there any benefit of becoming an AOR?

Yes, definitely there are many benefits of passing the AOR examination. It is not an easy examination and requires top notch preparation and that’s why AOR holds value that ordinary Supreme Court lawyers don’t have. Any client will automatically prefer an AOR for his case in comparison to ordinary lawyers. Most AORs even charge higher than the ordinary lawyers, so there is the advantage of earning more than ordinary lawyers. Apart from that, there are certain Delhi based firms that only give their cases to AORs. Thus, the benefits of becoming an AOR are endless and if you are planning to become a Supreme Court lawyer, you must also consider giving the AOR examination. 

What is the earnings of an AOR?

As mentioned above, lawyers do not have a fixed salary and the earnings of an AOR may vary from case to case or even client to client. But according to a report that was given by the Bar Council of India in 2021 on salaries of advocates, the average annual income of Advocate on Record was approximately calculated around INR 20 lakhs to INR 50 lakhs varying on the basis of seniority, connections and experience.  

What is the most useful piece of advice for a young lawyer who wants to establish his career in the Supreme Court?

One of the most important and best pieces of advice for a young lawyer who wants to practise law in the Supreme Court is to save as much money as you can before entering in this field. Saving money is the most important things for a young lawyer and this is because most of the lawyers in their initial days of the practise in the Supreme Court don’t get any clients and eventually they don’t earn any money, thus it is very important for a young lawyer to save extra money to sustain oneself in his initial days of practise,

Who is a senior advocate in the Supreme Court?

Any lawyer who has been practising in the Supreme Court for a long period of time, can suggest his name to the Supreme Court to be designated as a Supreme Court lawyer. The Supreme Court after looking into the experience, skills, knowledge and ability of the lawyer may designate him as a senior advocate if in the eyes of the committee such a lawyer is fit for it. There are certain requirements and criterias that a lawyer needs to fulfil in order to get the designation of a senior advocate, click here to read the criterias. 

What is the salary of an Advocate on Record?

The salary of an Advocate on Record depends upon their years of practise and experience in the field of law. Any experienced Advocate on Record who has successfully dealt with various cases in the Supreme Court and has a good reputation can easily earn up to fifty to sixty lakh rupees per year.

What is the difference between an AOR and a senior advocate?

Both the AOR and a senior advocate work in the Supreme Court and deal with the cases of the Supreme Court but they are not the same. In order to become an AOR a lawyer needs to qualify the Advocate on Record exam conducted by the Supreme Court, and to become a senior advocate a lawyer needs to fulfil certain criterias required by the Supreme Court in order to get the designation of a senior advocate. A senior advocate can not plead and argue in the Supreme Court whereas an AOR is the only legal professional who can argue and plead in front of the Supreme Court.

What is the salary of a senior advocate?

Similarly like an AOR, the salary of a senior advocate also depends upon their years of practise, reputation and trust among the clients. A successful supreme court lawyer can easily earn up to thirty to forty lakh rupees in a year.


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