5 famous Indian lawyers - Education, Salary, Popular Cases, Advice for Lawyers

5 famous Indian lawyers - Education, Salary, Popular Cases, Advice for Lawyers

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Updated on Jun 28, 2022 18:13 IST
Know here India's topmost lawyers of all times who with their celebrated achievements have become an inspiration for young lawyers. 
Famous Lawyers in India

In India, the legal profession is not only known for attractive packages but it is known for legal reformations for the people of India. Whether making amendments for fast-track court trials for special cases, fighting for the rights of minority communities, or, crucial discussions in the passing of bills and acts, the contributions cannot be overlooked. Here we have listed the five famous lawyers in India, who not only earned a hefty salary but also a big name in the legal domain. 

Soli Sorabjee

Soli Sorabjee

After pursuing law from the Government Law College in Mumbai, Soli Sorabjee was admitted to the bar in 1953. At his law school, Sorabjee was awarded the Kinloch Forbes Gold Medal in Roman Law and Jurisprudence.

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Sorabjee was designated as a senior advocate of the Supreme Court of India in 1971. He is also known to have served as the Solicitor General of India from 1977-1980. He was appointed as the Attorney General of India from 1998-2004, and is the only person who held the office for two terms. 

Some important cases fought by him include - Maneka Gandhi, Keshavananda Bharati, IR Coelho, SR Bommai, BP Singhal, etc.

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Students with law degree specializations in Human Rights, International law, must read the case studies of Soli Sorabjee who was an icon for Protection of Human Rights and Minority Rights. 

Books by Soli Sorabjee - Nani Palkhivala - The courtroom genius, The Emergency, Censorship, and the Press in India, World of All Human Rights, and Search for Values.

Quotes by Soli Sorabjee for lawyers

"If a man is willing to be robbed, will you be a thief?" Sorabjee openly opposed the lawyers who charged big bucks. He himself charged the lowest even after being a top lawyer one can find in India. He considered lawyers charging 30-40 lakh to their clients equals extortion. 

"Once you choose law as a profession, you don’t retire till you die"

Awards - Kinloch Forbes Gold Medal in Roman Law and Jurisprudence awarded in 1952, Padma Vibhushan awarded in 2002, Justice K. S. Hegde Foundation Award, 2006

Essays by Soli Sorabjee one must not miss -

  • Fundamental Rights as published in "Public Law of India" 
  • The Constitution and the Governor
  • Protection of Human Rights in Emergencies
  • Equity in the United States and India published in "Constitutionalism and Rights" (1990)

Fali Sam Nariman

Fali Sam Nariman

Known to have pursued a law degree from the Government Law College, Mumbai in 1950, Fali S Nariman stood first in the advocate's examination and has even been awarded the Kinlock Forbes Gold Medal and Prize for Roman Law & Jurisprudence. However, the law was not the first-course preference of this distinguished Indian Constitutional jurist and senior advocate to the Supreme Court. His father wanted him to pursue civil services but he finally pursued law because the family could not afford it.

Nariman has been practicing law since 1971 and was named the President of the Bar Association of India in 1991. He was named the Additional Solicitor General of India from 1972-1975 and resigned from that post due to the declaration of emergency.

High-profile cases fought by him include the infamous Bhopal gas tragedy, Golak Nath, SP Gupta, TMA Pai Foundation, and the likes.

Books by Fali Sam Nariman - God Save the Hon'ble Supreme Court, Main Bhool Na Jaoon, The State of the Nation, Before Memory Fades: An Autobiography, India's Legal System, Courts, Legislatures, Media Freedom. 

Awards - Padma Bhushan Award in 1991, Padma Vibhushan award in 2007, Gruber Prize for Justice awarded in 2002

Quotes by Fali S Nariman for Lawyers -

"The skill of a practising lawyer is not flamboyance or verbosity but hard work”.

“Avoid histrionics and stick to the record; you will find the judge receptive to your pleas”

"Talk less, devote more thought to case at hand'" 

Ram Jethmalani

Ram Jethmalani

A man of many odds, Ram Jethmalani, received his LLB degree at the age of 17 from the Government Law College at Mumbai. A special resolution was passed so that he could earn this degree because at that time the minimum age to become a lawyer was 21 years. He later earned his LLM degree from SC Shahani Law College, Karachi.

He had served as India's Union Law Minister and as Chairman of the Bar Council of India. In 2010, he was elected as the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association.

Famous cases - He was known for his quick wit and sharpness to handle any situation with calm, Ram Jethmalani has fought many high-profile as well controversial cases such as KM Nanavati vs. State of Maharashtra case, Jessica Lall murder case, defended Rajiv Gandhi and Indira Gandhi’s killers, underworld don Haji Mastan’s case, Afzal Guru’s case, Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, Spectrum 2G case and many more.

Awards - Human Rights Award by World Peace Through Law awarded in 1977, International Jurist Award 

Advice by Ram Jethmalani for lawyers - “Avoid unnecessary histrionics and be straightforward in your submissions" 

The famous defense lawyer who fought high-profile cases only charged around Rs 40 lakh for an appearance. Commenting on charging high fees he said - "When I see a man coming into my office with his pockets bulging with smuggling money, I consider it my duty to relieve him of his wealth"

Books by Ram Jethmalani -

  • Big Egos, Small Men,
  • Conflict of Laws, 
  • Conscience of a Maverick
  • Justice: Soviet Style
  • Maverick: Unchanged, Unrepentant

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Mukul Rohtagi

Mukul Rohtagi

Having completed his law education from the University of Mumbai, Mukul Rohtagi who is the 14th, as well as current Attorney General of India, started practicing under Yogesh Kumar Sabharwal who went on to become the 36th chief justice of India. Rohtagi started working with Sabharwal in the high court but later on started his own legal practice.

Mukul Rohtagi was appointed as a chief legal advisor for the current Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, however, he stepped down from the position citing that he wants to practice as a private lawyer. 

Famous cases fought by him include Y K Sabharwal property suit, Jharkhand Assembly floor test case, 2002 Gujarat Riots, Ambani brothers’ gas supply case, etc.

Quotes by Mukul Rohtagi for lawyers - "A point must be stateable in 5 sentences or it is not worth stating at all."

Ashok Desai

Ashok Desai

After graduating with a law degree in 1952 from the Government Law College, Mumbai, Ashok Desai went on to pursue a bachelor of economics degree from the London School of Economics from where he graduated in 1956. In the same year, he was even called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn, London and in 1967 he also took part in the Harvard International Seminar.

Ashok Desai was the Attorney General for India and served in this office from 1996-1998. He has also served as the Solicitor General of India for the tenure between 1989 -1990.

Some famous cases include – Sakharam Binder, Piloo Modi, Antulay, Ramanna Shetty, Narasimha Rao about Parliamentary privilege, Vineet Narain, etc.

Book by Ashok Desai - Supreme but not infallible 

Quotes by Ashok Desai for lawyers - "if you over-celebrate the wins, you will have to over-mourn the losses”

Awards - Golden Anniversary Rotary Prize achieved in 1956, National Law Day Award achieved in 2000, Padma Bhushan achieved in 2001, Capital Foundation National Awards achieved in 2014, Supreme Court of India award achieved in 2016, Lawyers of India Day Award achieved in 2016

How to become a lawyer in India?

Becoming a lawyer in India is a process of years of education, behind the scene research skills, and passing the All India Bar Examination (AIBE). One who decides to become a lawyer in India has to complete the below-mentioned two-step process: 

  1. Take admission in a five-year LLB course or three-year LLB course to study law
  2. Appear and qualify AIBE examination. a mandatory exam for issuing 'Certificate of Practice' by the Bar Council of India

Important FAQs regarding Five Famous Indian Lawyers

Q: Who is the No. 1 lawyer in India?

A: While it is difficult to pick the one best lawyer, given below are some of the most famous lawyers in India:
  • Ram Jethmalani
  • Soli Sorabjee
  • Fali S Nariman
  • Mukul Rohtagi
  • Ashok Desai

Q: Who is the richest lawyer in India?

A: Some of the highest-paid lawyers in India as Legally India include:
  • Ram Jethmalani
  • Fali Nariman
  • KK Venugopal
  • Gopal Subramaniam

Q: How many lawyers are there in India?

A: As per industry sources, there are about 20 lakh lawyers in India.

Q: How much do lawyers earn in India?

A: As per Glassdoor, the national average salary of a lawyer in India is Rs 7 lakh per annum.

Q: What is the difference between a lawyer and an advocate?

A: 'Lawyer' is a term used to designate anyone in the legal profession. If a lawyer or a law graduate wants to practice in the court of law, s/he needs to be enrolled in a state bar council and clear the All India Bar Examination (AIBE).   Once a lawyer is enrolled in a state bar council and clears the AIBE exam, s/he can then refer to himself/herself as an advocate. An advocate is basically a qualified individual who represents the client in the court of law. 

Q: How many types of lawyers are there in India?

A: Some of the common types of lawyers in India include:
  • Corporate lawyer
  • Litigation lawyer
  • Public interest lawyer
  • Criminal lawyer
  • Family lawyer
  • Intellectual property lawyer
  • Immigration lawyer
  • Mergers and acquisitions lawyer
  • Digital media and internet lawyer
  • Medical malpractice lawyer

Q: How many years does it take to be an advocate?

A: To become an advocate, candidates typically need to pursue an LLB course of three to four years duration after completing graduation. Alternatively, some students also opt to study integrated LLB courses right after Class 12, which typically takes five years to complete.

Q: Why do lawyers wear black coats?

A: Black and White is a symbol of the legal profession not only in India but throughout the world. It is believed that colour black was chosen many years back as it is the colour of authority and power. 

Q: Which is the best law school in India?

A: As per NIRF Rankings 2020, NLSIU Bangalore followed by NLU Delhi and NALSAR Hyderabad are the best law schools in India.

Q: What is the admission process for NLU Delhi?

A: To secure admission in NLU Delhi, candidates need to crack the All India Law Admission Test (AILET).

Q: What is CLAT?

A: CLAT or Common Law Admission Test is a national-level law entrance exam conducted to offer admission to candidates in LLB and LLM courses offered by various National Law Universities (except NLU Delhi) in India.

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Asha Katole

3 years ago

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