Emerging Areas in Criminal Law Practice
Law as a discipline has a wide variety of practice areas to offer. It starts with traditionally known domains namely civil and criminal but extends to more specific and detailed spaces like arbitration, cyber space, organized crimes, corporate, banking, finance, competition law etc. It can be understood from these stretches that everything we perform comes under the radar of legal discipline.
We, as a nation, are growing rapidly, which is a result of technological advancements, pooling of scientific resources, scaling high on globalization parameters and proliferation of global markets. This has caused myriad opportunities for new anti-social activities to grow and impact human existence. Of late, it has become quite a challenge to combat the changed dynamics of crime and criminality. The ordinary criminal commits crimes which are direct and involve physical action such as beating, use of force, removal of property etc. which can be easily identified and detected. With the change in social structures, the nature, cause, manner, rate and impact of crime has also completely changed. In the commercial world, crimes are being committed by privileged groups of persons in an indirect, anonymous, impersonal and difficult to detect ways.
Famous criminologists like Emily Durkheim have expressed their opinions regarding the universal nature of crime and its ever-present phenomenon since the inception of society and even before. So, even though crime has been affecting human life, property and liberty since the origin of state, society or laws, it has relentlessly evolved and adapted itself. For the last two decades, organized crimes including corruption, drug trafficking, terror financing have been primary areas of concern; other modes of criminal activities are now gradually emerging like environmental crimes, narco terrorism, cybercrimes, consumer financial frauds, identity theft, hacking, data- privacy, cyber- bullying , e-shopping frauds, online blackmail, e-banking frauds etc.
The convenience brought by information technology has also opened gates for grave threats and the internet has changed the face of crime. The unprecedented growth in the rate of crime due to digital connectivity via the internet has cropped up various legal issues. The crime related litigation has grown exponentially in many dimensions and has become extremely competitive and highly lucrative in contemporary times. The interplay of civil and criminal procedures with cyber frauds, telemarketing frauds, tax frauds, securities fraud opens vistas of opportunities for new generation lawyers to be experts of these disciplines.
One may wonder how to build a career in one of these dynamic and thrusting areas. A lawyer needs a basic skill set consisting of flair communication, logical thinking, augmentation and analytical ability, knack of reasoning and competence of a researcher. In addition, to champion the challenges thrown by modern day crimes, the legal fraternity is required to comprehend itself with knowledge of new technologies and investigation techniques.
Here are a few skills one may gather in order to become an expert of this niche area of cyber law and make their career successful.
- After completing the 10+2 in any subject, a student has to write an entrance exam i.e Common Law Admission Test to get through a good law school. Five year integrated law is being offered by national and private universities in disciplines like science, commerce and arts commonly referred as BA LL.B, BBA LL.B, B.Com LL.B, B.Tech LL.B, B.Sc LL.B.
- In law school, the focus must be on learning the substantive laws of Indian Penal Code, Information Technology, Interpretation of Statues, current developments on Digital Data Protection issues along with procedural laws i.e. Civil Procedure Code, Criminal Procedure Code and Evidence Law. One may plan their internships under advocates who are dealing with matters of cyber space and cyber-attacks.
- If focus is on becoming an expert in cyber law, an aspirant must concentrate on developing his technical skills during his time in law school. Along with graduation in law, the individual can get certifications in networking, learning different operating systems, and hacking practices. This will not only refine the knowledge but also give insights to how data is stored, moved and managed. To gain success as a cyber-lawyer, one has to become a student of law and technology and also have passion for the subject.
- After graduating from law school, students can identify a senior advocate who practices in cyber law to work with, who will be an asset in training the court craftsmanship along with the specifics of the domain. Working for a renowned law firm dealing exclusively with matters of cyber law can be helpful in gaining specialization in the area. As a cyber-lawyer, you may begin your independent practice, be a cyber-consultant/ advisor and provide legal advice on matters related to cyber law which may prove helpful to organizations to keep their computer information system safe and secure.
- Along with your practice, one may also opt to complete a post graduate diploma course or certificate course in cyber law offered by well acclaimed universities across the globe. These courses are flexible in their conduct and offer deeper understanding of the topic rather than a general view. Such qualifications combined with experience as a practicing lawyer will give way to become an expert in the field.
- Lastly, the individual may consider taking up higher studies and do an LL.M with specialization in cyber laws. This will not only create better prospects in law firms but also pave the way for being a professor of cyber law with intense knowledge of domain and instructional methods related to cyber law.
- The journey to become an expert in cyber laws may take five to ten years but with experience the individual can get a job with any multinational company as an in – house counsel for the legal department or provide cyber forensic services, intelligence services with the Government of India.
Thus, the field of cyber law and cyber securities offers tremendous possibilities for the future. The practice in this domain will surely be a challenging venture. There is a need to develop parallel skills for both law and technology through exposure, practice and study. It is a multi- dimensional industry with international potential which would undoubtedly prepare a cyber-law expert to be a true global professional.
Written By :- Ms. Pooja Trehan, Assistant. Professor, Faculty of Law, MRU