Should a law student go for Judiciary or civil services?

In Future
July 25, 2021

Every year, several lawyers apply for UPSC and SPSC examinations. Both categories entail jobs that directly touch the legislation of the country. This provides the law graduates with an edge in these exams.

The law is, without a doubt, an indispensable part of public policy. In India, the government occupations offer notable and honourable job titles. Being a government worker, you will not only be able to serve your country but will also be able to earn a decent living with perks that private jobs can never equal. However, the UPSC success rate is only 0.25 per cent, and you, as a lawyer, are up against more than five lakh people from all backgrounds.

For most lawyers, the only other option is to go to court. The Judiciary offers you honour, prestige and extensive judicial powers, whereas UPSC positions provide you with vast executive authorities in the state. Many law students get torn between the UPSC and the Judiciary as career paths. There are various advantages of pursuing a career in the Judiciary as a lawyer. Lawyers who chose the Judiciary have to fight with only a few thousand candidates for the honourable position of judge in the country. They also have a higher chance of serving in their home state.

  1. Structure of the exam:

Both tests have a similar composition.

Preliminary Examination, Main Examination, and Interview are the three levels. To advance to the next step, candidates must pass each with the required minimum score. Unless there are modifications to the framework, the minimum qualifying marks for UPSC remain constant. Each state conducts its Judiciary exams. The qualifying criteria for each state may differ. Some states may have minimum qualifying marks for each stage that they announce along with the vacancies, while others may determine based on the ratio of candidates for each vacancy at that stage.

Attorneys have an advantage in UPSC because general studies examine knowledge of Indian democracy and governance. Lawyers with prior knowledge of constitutional law have better preparation to answer those questions. However, the law is only 40% of the UPSC general studies syllabus, with the rest being brand new concepts.

So, even after 3 or 5 years of law school, a lawyer must acquire new disciplines from the ground up, including geography, science and technology, history, and economics, to sit for the UPSC examination.

On the other hand, the Judiciary test covers all the disciplines that a lawyer has studied during their legal education, thereby automatically elevating them above the fundamentals.

Then, the judiciary aspirants study the subjects they are already familiar with, but, in a way intended in the examination. It appears to be a more straightforward task than learning a new discipline.

2. Competition

Over the last decade, the number of students who applied for UPSC was about 400 times greater than the number of seats available. In contrast, the average number of candidates for the judicial state test was 99 times the number of seats available.

If you take the state Judiciary exams as a law student, you will have to face five times less competition.

Furthermore, the judicial tests have an organisation such that local candidates have an edge, eliminating competition from the national to the state level.

3. Difficulty Level

UPSC exams are more concept-based, whereas judicial exams are more knowledge-based.

For example, a question from the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code in UPSC would be on interpretation rather than provision. However, it is critical to know every element of the code for the examination, as they will ask questions about the provisions and, in some cases, the date on which it came into force.

The necessity of a local language in the judicial test puts you ahead of the pack in your native state.

(If people speak your native language in more than one state, you can take advantage of this by taking more than one State Judiciary test without having to learn a new language for the exam.)

4. Salary:

Refer to the images below for a better understanding of the salaries according to the 7th pay commission.


5. Other perks

  • Pension:

Judicial officials are entitled to a pension under the Second National Judicial Pay Commission. Retired judges receive 50% of their last drawn pay. Their families receive 30% of the officer’s drawn pay.

On the other hand, civil servants must adhere to the National Payment Scheme. Employees can contribute to a pension account throughout their working lives, and the government will match some of their contributions. Subscribers can withdraw a portion of their account balance in a lump payment and utilise the rest to purchase an annuity to ensure a steady income after they retire.

  • Medical facilities:

Civil officials under the UPSC are entitled to free medical treatment in government facilities. Judicial officers receive a monthly medical payment of $3000 and reimbursement for treatment in private hospitals.

  • Power:

A District Judge is superior to a District Collector in the Central Government and State Hierarchy. In rank, the Chief Justice is far superior to a Chief Secretary.

IAS/IPS officers have extensive powers; but, they can only use them against the general public and inferior officers.

As a law student, if you are in a fix and cannot decide whether to go for civil services or Judiciary, then being informed about both is crucial for making a good decision which could go wonders in your life!

Do not lose hope because only good things are ahead of you. All the best

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