Careers Featured

How the ‘AoR brand’opens doors

Have you ever wondered what crisis is being faced by lawyers in India today? And is there an opportunity in this for you? Let’s discuss this. 

There are approximately 20 lakh practising lawyers in India. The biggest challenges they face are: 

  • How will my clients know that I am a good lawyer? 
  • What can I do to stand out amidst so much competition? 

Many lawyers do different things to counter these problems. Some set up nice, fancy chambers. Some rent offices in a prime location. Some hire lots of juniors. Others buy luxury cars, thinking this may impress clients. 

Some want to become Senior Advocates. In fact, the Senior Advocate designation is a huge prize for any lawyer. It opens a floodgate of clients because it signals to the world that you belong to a very exclusive club of elite lawyers.

But it will take 20 or 30 years to become a Senior Advocate, and many do not become Senior Advocates even after that. 

You cannot afford to wait that long, so is there another way to stand out and be a part of the club, where younger lawyers are also welcome?

Opportunities that come with the ‘AoR Brand’ 

Yes, there is another way to do this. You can become a Supreme Court Advocate on Record. This is like a stamp of excellence because it signals to clients that you are a good lawyer. And it brings you great respect in all courts, even in the High Courts, because you are an AoR for the Supreme Court. 

  • Anyone can pass the All India Bar Exam, but they cannot become an AoR. That itself is a huge brand that brings you clients – not just individuals but even corporate and MNC clients. If you are an AoR, it is assumed that you are a good lawyer. 
  • You can get government empanelments, even on forums other than the Supreme Court, because you are an AoR. It becomes a very easy differentiator.  
  • You may have the traits of a good lawyer, but that is not sufficient to convert clients. You need to send out a powerful signal, and becoming a Supreme Court AoR is that game-changing signal. 
  • Becoming an AoR makes you part of an exclusive, elite club in the country. There are just over 3,000 AORs in India today.

An elite club

Why are there so few AoRs? After all, there are more retired HC judges, almost 20,000 lower judiciary judges, and 1,100 serving HC judges. And just 3,000 AoRs?

Here is why.

Thinking of attempting the SC AoR exam was not possible even 10 or 15 years ago for every lawyer, especially if you were not living in Delhi. It was not feasible to travel to Delhi, particularly by train, because you would lose a lot of time. And flights were too expensive and limited.

Today, there are frequent flights in and out of Delhi from many more cities, making travel possible for many more people. With travel costs coming down, clients will happily pay for your travel if they want you to represent them in the Supreme Court. 

You don’t even have to travel all the time, since there are virtual hearings as well. There is increasing pressure to have more virtual hearings because it opens up access to justice for litigants. Many judges have started to actively encourage virtual hearings.

There has been talk of opening regional benches of the Supreme Court as well. That can happen, too, at any time soon. 

The biggest problem people face is in finding a senior AoR to train with. But there is a danger of relocating to work under a senior and still not earn enough! Even trainees in Delhi do not work full-time under those AoRs. But this is not common knowledge.

A lot of people thought they needed to have an office and a clerk in Delhi, and this used to prevent them from taking the AoR exam. 

Most important, other than the classes that used to be held near the Supreme Court, there was no other way to prepare for this exam. You were either practising on a daily basis in the SC under a senior, or you were attending classes regularly. Or you were connected to some senior who was helping you. For this reason again, many people did not even dare to think of attempting the AoR exam. 

In short, for a long time, owing to various valid and invalid reasons, access to the tag of AoR was restricted to a small and elite circle in a very large country. But let me tell you, there are many lawyers who have already solved this access problem. There are AoRs outside Delhi, in other cities, who have cracked the exam. 

For example, one of our students from Mizoram passed three out of four papers in 2021, and is working on the last paper. A lot of other students are preparing similarly. 

And it is totally worth it. If you go to Trichy, Ahmedabad or anywhere else, before any court or forum, or any kind of client, and say you are an AoR at the SC, you will get instant, immense respect. 

So who wants to take the long-winded and circuitous route of 20-30 years to become a Senior Advocate, when you have the effective and proven shortcut of the AoR exam? 

However, the challenge lies in the preparation. The exam is a very difficult one; most people who attempt it, fail. Some 1000-1200 candidates take the exam every year, and the success rate is approximately 19-24 percent.  

So you cannot treat it like your college exam, or even the Judiciary exams. It requires extensive practice. For exams like Judiciary, a lot of knowledge is sufficient. But the AoR exam tests you on more nuances. You need to practise writing long form answers by hand, legibly and quickly, in a way that the examiner can understand.   

Nobody makes you practise that today. Nobody coaches you on this. Not even the training sessions that take place near the Supreme Court. As a result, a lot of people are unprepared and fail. Sometimes there may not even be a single correct answer to a question; there may be multiple! But it is possible to take all these things into consideration when you prepare. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *