A noble profession with not-so-noble paychecks

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Conversations with several law students in Mumbai and Delhi revealed how overworked and underpaid they are. A prominent tier 2 litigation firm in Mumbai only pays interns ₹1,500 per month. Their working hours are 10:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., six days a week, and they are often called into the office on Sundays as well. A law firm in South West Delhi recently posted a full-time job offer on LinkedIn for a junior lawyer. The working hours were 9am to 6pm and the salary mentioned in the post was ₹5,000 per month.

A 2020 study by Vidhi Center for Legal Policy, a legal think tank, found that more than 79% of lawyers in 7 high courts believe that junior lawyers with less than two years of experience earn less than ₹10,000 per month. Welfare funds set up by central and state governments under the Lawyers Welfare Fund Act of 2001 remain lapsed in many states.

An overwhelming 92% of lawyers practicing in the Delhi High Court did not know anyone who had received financial assistance from the fund. The situation was no better in Gujarat and Madras, with respectively 75% and 66% of lawyers in these High Courts denying knowledge of the existence of beneficiaries.

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