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    Getting Into Your Preferred Law Firm: Points To Keep In Mind

    By HemRaj Singh
    5 Jan'23  8 min read
    Getting Into Your Preferred Law Firm: Points To Keep In Mind

    What are some of the important things that students of law need to keep in mind as they pursue their studies, such that they can avail a promising placement? Read on to know.

    Getting Into Your Preferred Law Firm: Points To Keep In Mind

    What are some of the important things that students of law need to keep in mind as they pursue their studies, such that they can avail a promising placement? Read on to know.

    There was a time not so long ago when having a law degree meant joining the legal profession as a litigating attorney, and being a lawyer meant everyday visits to the court to contest cases for the litigants. That’s no longer the case, and has been so for at least a couple of decades now.

    How The Legal Profession Has Evolved

    It began when the Indian economy was liberalised and lawyers were needed not only to contest cases but also to ensure legal compliance and cater to the legal needs of commercial establishments on the business side as well. Contesting cases in the court is an expensive deal anywhere in the world, and results in draining the resources of the commercial establishments concerned by way of legal expenses as well as lost opportunity costs with the latter being usually much higher than the former. So lawyers are required to contest the cases, when needed, and also to avoid unnecessary and avoidable legal tangles. Businesses are willing to pay very well for the same, which is what has been making the legal profession progressively lucrative over the years.

    Fight For Placements

    The number of lawyers joining litigation is still as low, if not lower, as before, but the law schools have mushroomed everywhere because more and more youngsters want to have a piece of the financially alluring pie. However, this also means that there is an ever-increasing number of youngsters vying to be placed in the top law firms, for the right placement at the start can kickstart one’s legal career like few other things can. But to fight blindly for something that everybody is fighting for only because everybody is fighting for it is a pretty bad way of doing anything, including going about making a career in the legal profession.

    Also Read | Intern Speak On Their Experiences At Law Firms

    Know What You Want

    Law firms have different work cultures and different areas of specialisation. Many top firms provide all kinds of legal services to their clients, both inside the courtroom as well as outside, but are known for only a small bunch of services. It’s always better to keep one’s interest and innate abilities in mind before one decides to get into a law firm because once you start practising in a certain legal area, it becomes difficult to switch to another unrelated legal field without taking a loss.

    Internships help in finding out what kind of work one is comfortable with and also the kind of work-life one wants to have in the future.

    how to apply for internship in law firms, how to get job in law firm in india, how to join law firm after llb, how to get internship in law firms, how to get a job in a law firm, how to get into top law firms in indiaInternships Help In Finding Out What Kind Of Work One Is Comfortable With

    Internships: Foot In The Door

    Internships do not work if you want to understand the law or even polish your legal skills, of which you would have few as a law student anyway, but they do work excellently when it comes to having a foot in the door of a law firm. A lot of times law firms hire those who have interned with them, if they show promise, which is just because the seniors at the law firm might already know how the intern performed during the internship, and so they don’t have to spend extra post-recruitment time to analyse the abilities of an associate and tweak his or her performance to get the best out of it.

    Furthermore, the pressure is less on them at the stage of the interview to readily evaluate the applicants right and pick the best of the options. In addition, the fellow has already seen the work culture of the firm and would not take as much time to acclimatise, and would fit right in from the word go. So internships are a good way to know a law firm and also to make a good impression, which might help one in the future.

    Knowing Your Options

    During the internship, one can also have a fair idea as to which law firm would be willing to employ one, and which ones are lost causes. This evaluation has to be dispassionate because too much optimism can only result in wasted time and lost opportunities elsewhere, for while you were trying to get into a firm that wouldn’t take you, another firm that would have most likely taken you hired someone else. In short, you need to be able to separate one’s real options from the hopeful ones.

    Also Read | Things About Corporate Law Practice Aspiring Lawyers Should Know

    The Must-Haves To Succeed

    Having chosen the law firms you want to try your luck with, you’ll have to prepare yourself to make your way into them and then up the food chain within the organization. For that you would need more than the legal education you get at the law school, which is not to say it doesn’t matter; it does, a lot, but here are a few things that you would need in addition to that. Here are a few things that you might need to improve.

    Excellent Linguistic Skills (Get A Better Handle On English)

    The top-tier law firms, which are not more than seven in all, are absolutely uncompromising when it comes to linguistic skills and clarity of expression, both verbal and written. So if you do not have an excellent command of English, you might need to work on it. Linguistic skill is one skill in regard to which litigation is a bit less demanding at the trial level than a law firm job.

    Conceptual Clarity And Industry

    Conceptual clarity with regard to things such as contracts, legal compliances and the provisions of law regarding such aspects as acquisition and mergers are definitely helpful, and if as a law intern you picked something of how contracts work and how compliances have to be carried out, you can be of a great deal of help to the seniors at the law firm. And that matters.

    Utilise Your Internship | The best way to make an impression on the seniors at the law firm is during your internship because the knowledge of these things is not expected in an intern, and if you could be of help to a senior at the law firm while he or she was dealing with one of these issues, you can rest assured he/she is going to remember you when you return for a formal interview later.

    Practice On Compliances | Compliances are particularly easy to get a hang of because they do not take a lot of talent or skills, but they do call for diligence and practice. So you just have to be aware of what filing has to be done where, at what stage and in which format. There is a lot of it, yes, but if you pay attention to the details, it’s not such hard work as, say, drafting a complex business-to-business commercial contract, where every word matters and all mistakes come with an actual financial or litigation cost to the client.

    how to apply for internship in law firms, how to get job in law firm in india, how to join law firm after llb, how to get internship in law firms, how to get a job in a law firm, how to get into top law firms in indiaWith Conceptual Clarity, You Can Be Of Great Deal Of Help To The Seniors At The Law Firm

    Respectfulness And Humility (Go Easy On Sass, Please)

    Another thing that is not paid much attention to, but is of extreme importance is respectfulness. No matter how much talent you have and no matter how good you are, if you are arrogant (or sound that way), you are not going to go too far because arrogance, even if not of the in-your-face kind, is repulsive and can be sensed in the demeanour itself. So even if you are not saying something rude or taking an arrogant tone, you might still be coming across as such from the body language itself.

    Do Not Be Arrogant | Arrogance also evokes distrust because more often than not people tend to trust those who are respectful rather than those who seem a bit too sure of themselves. Worse, nobody wants to teach anything to a cocky know-it-all, even if he/she happens to be an indisputable genius. Also, even if you are a genius, you’ll still have to learn the ways of the world. Furthermore, if the seniors have the impression that you are arrogant, they would not be all that comfortable sending you to one-on-one client meetings even when you are already an associate attorney with the firm. That’s because clients, especially the rich ones that foot the kind of salaries law firms pay to their young associates these days, come with colossal egos and may take offence at the slightest hint of disrespect. Law firms would not want to attract such latent displeasure because while it might not cause immediate loss of a client, it might make the client way more intolerant of minor errors and hiccups. And nobody can truly guarantee a smooth sail throughout.

    That’s why law firms would not send a seemingly arrogant associate to meetings with sensitive clients, who are also the most successful ones, the truly big fish, which means that an arrogant associate would be much less likely to be the face of a big project finished or a crucial deal closed. And that makes all the difference when it comes to rising through the ranks in a law firm. But there are no books or training courses to train you in humility and politeness; one has to inculcate it on one’s own alongside knowledge, understanding and finesse.

    Also Read | 6 Emerging Legal Fields For New Lawyers

    You wouldn’t find a lot of people or articles talking of this aspect simply because very often we tend to ignore the plain fact that when it comes to picking between equals in talent, people would go for a person with better people skills. That’s kind of a tie-breaker, and trust me when I say that no matter how much talent or knowledge or ability you pack, it would not be impossible — not even difficult, in most cases — to find your equal, which is when the personality, which is more than just good looks and style, steps up to weigh in.

    HemRaj Singh is a Delhi-based trial lawyer, specialising in both civil and criminal trials, and writes mainly on law, policy, diplomacy, and international relations. Apart from writing for magazines and websites, including Careers 360, practicing law and teaching Legal Reasoning and Critical Reasoning, he is Editor-at-Large with Lawyers Update, a monthly magazine on law and legal affairs, and was Legal Editor with Universal Law Publishing Company before he started practicing law.

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