I recently read your article on “5 unconventional roles you can take after getting a law degree and was immensely impressed. However, I want to make a career as an associate at a law firm. I am writing this mail to you because of a recommendation of a friend, who suggested that such courses help during interviews. I am not very convinced about this. Could you please guide me as to how will the diploma course help or be recognized by law firms when I sit for the interviews?
Seeking your kind reply,
This mail did not come as a surprise. Ever since my posts have started generating an audience, I have been receiving such mails at least twice in a day.
It is funny, but every time I receive such a mail, call, a comment or a tweet on any of my posts, I feel a weird connection. A feeling of Deja Vu. Probably, this is because I recently graduated out of college too and I had my own doubts. I wanted to ensure, that each time I am asking my parents for extra money, I am trying to utilize it in the best possible way. I used to only go for debates, which I knew I would win. I would only send my papers to free but credible publications.
However, for me, things were beyond money. Everything I did was to make sure that I am building my CV in such a way that no one is able to compete with me.
After all, the challenge for me was big. I studied at a very young National Law University which was not in the top league and not considered at per with the very best.
I knew the campus placements would be futile for me and the places I wanted to get into were extremely demanding. I knew they wouldn’t settle for grades alone, they would require knowledge, personality, a good Curriculum Vitae.
In my quest to get a perfect job at a law firm, I came across a lot of HRs, partners of various firms, associates, and even budding entrepreneurs. While I was actively socializing with each one of them, I identified a list of similarities in their demand from a fresher or an employee they would want to hire during an interview.
I will try to focus on each one of them, and then leave it for you to judge whether a diploma course is suitable for you or not. I mean, I am just a writer and marketer. I can only give you honest insights. It is ultimately for you to decide whether this is going to help you or not.
1. Channelised Curriculum Vitae
You might receive many facebook add requests from unknown people. While I hope that you reject all of them, if you ever accept one by chance, I bet you are likely to accept a request from a profile with a good profile picture. If you are on Tinder, the criteria to swipe anyone right is generally pictures and description. What are these?
These are the signals that you quickly judge a person on. We do this day in and day out. Not only in social media but pretty much anywhere. At a club, at a party, at a networking session – we choose who we associate with, from a crowd. Not everyone can get our attention, life is too short for that.
A recruiter is no different. The only difference, in this case, is that your Curriculum Vitae is your profile. The recruiter is going to make a quick decision and either pick up your profile for further engagement or throw it in the proverbial trash can. You have just seconds. Are they going to swipe right on your CV? Would you yourself swipe right on it, if ever you had to choose? Let me break it down to you a little bit.
Be relevant to the job you want
NO ONE CARES ABOUT WHAT OBJECTIVE, TALENTS OR DECLARATIONS YOU’VE WRITTEN IN YOUR CV. DO NOT WASTE VALUABLE SPACE.
You already know that a CV is not supposed to be any longer than 2 pages. Why would you add useless information like “my objective”, which is mostly copied from any sample CV website? Why would you want to give a declaration saying that “the above-mentioned information is true and best to your knowledge and belief?” Why waste space on which sport you are good at if you are applying for a job at a law firm?
Think from their perspective. They want a CV which is aligned to the role for which they have an opening. For example, if it is a profile for Mergers and Acquisition team, they would want to know all the work you have done regarding mergers and acquisitions during your internships if you have written any articles about M&A or investment law, if you have done any additional courses on that subject etc.
You can definitely mention if you have done a due diligence or helped a CS with paperwork after an M&A deal. That would be very relevant. Maybe you helped a professor to do some research on M&A? If you have won a moot court competition on M&A or at least securities laws, by all means, talk about it. Your CV needs to give them an insight on all of that and but not random information that has nothing to do with showing how good a candidate you are for an M&A team.
However, do you have relevant things like that to write? If not, better get started. We help our students of this business law course will all of that.
Customize your CV
When you sit for an end semester exam, do you tend to answer Constitutional law questions with company law answers? Or do you write the same answer for every question? Or, do you present the same project for every viva? Then, does it make sense that you send the same CV with the same list of achievements and experience to every place you apply at?
Any company or a law firm will certainly reject you if you don’t meet all or some of their requirements. They specifically would want to only hire someone, whose CV is credible enough for the job they have. If your CV does not answer their questions, they will reject you. Thus, you need to ensure that your CV answers every question that a recruiter might have. You better customize it accordingly. We actually guide our students with things like these in the iPleaders club.
How do you do that?
The very first thing even before applying you need to do is to look at the job role. The job role always defines what the company is looking at. Now compare it with your CV. If you have done sufficient work on the job role you are applying for, then ensure that you have added all the necessary information regarding that.
For example, I undertook a number of tasks while interning at tier 1 law firm. Now obviously I couldn’t list all of them on my CV. Because I was mostly applying for M&A team, I kept only those tasks in the description.
However, I once stumbled upon a real estate opportunity, which seemed very promising. Apart from an internship at a real estate firm, that too in my second year, I literally had no prior experience in real estate law.
However, I realized that while at my other internships I have done some work on real estate. In fact, I had made an entire presentation on “Real Estate Regulation Act, 2016” to the partners during an internship. I immediately edited my entire CV by replacing M&A experience with true real estate work I have done, and it did wonders for me during the interview.
Trust me when I say this, we think interviewers ask questions which we don’t know. But in my experience, we can make interviewers ask what we want to be asked. However, you have to plan and act ahead for that.
Where do you learn all this from?
CV drafting and presentation is a major challenge that most of the people don’t get right at even after being experts in their fields. At iPleaders we provide assistance and ensure that every CV is aligned as per the need of the job you are applying for.
It is indeed a real challenge to create a specific profile but we try our best to ensure that it is done in the best possible manner. Here is someone who got a job at erstwhile Amarchand Managaldas with our career assistance. You can probably understand it yourself, the kind of impact a CV could make and how can a diploma course help you with that.
2. Technical Expertise/Domain Knowledge
Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
While I was looking for jobs, I felt very frustrated to see that most of the places prefer individuals who are either from top National Law Universities or only hire lawyers with experience. I often also went on ranting about it on my social media.
Even today, if you happen to go to any of the recruiting websites, you will realize that most of the job opportunities demand 0-1 years of minimum experience.
I wanted an answer to this, and thus I spoke to Nipun Bhatia, Vice President, Legal League Consulting. He simply told me that the very first criteria any recruiter looks at are the technical expertise an individual comes with.
That is generally assessed or assumed to be with someone who either has experience in the domain or comes from a university which promises to impart market-specific knowledge. If an individual wants to display an equal proportion of knowledge, in the absence of the two, they need to ensure they are doing something relevant or at par.
This very clarification was enlightening. I tried to work hard on my knowledge, through reading and writing articles. But trust me, an insider or an experienced person’s knowledge is always more practical and diverse. However, it was during my research I came across Shivam Dubey’s experience, which gave me an idea of the diploma course.
I realized that this is something I could perhaps do. Even if it does not help me in my interview, it will at least help me in my interviews, it would at least help me with increasing my knowledge. However, turned out it was my best investment ever. Just like Fatima Quraishi, in almost 95% of my interviews I was questioned about this course.
What this course essentially does is provides a seal on the fact that you have enough expertise on a subject. It covers every aspect of business laws, so even when they don’t question you on the course, they do question you on the subjects for which you are already armed with the practical knowledge they do not even expect you to have. It is just like going for an oral examination, after studying every page of your book. You are bound to excel in it,
More than anything, the knowledge you get out of it makes you an irresistible choice for the recruiters. In my conversation with Nipun Bhatia, he told me, that no one expects a fresher to know anything.
We just expect them to have the courage to say “I don’t know” and not break down by the time interview gets over. However, in this quest, if we find someone who is very knowledgeable and has perfected the genre he wants to get into, we don’t let them go even if it means a higher recruiting cost.
Such is the power of knowledge. We can promise to develop you into that person if you actually follow the course.
3. Right personality to fit the organization
Every organization big or small has a personality to it. For example, I went for an interview for an organization, who had rejected individuals on the basis of their birth dates. When I was called for an interview, I was asked to remove my footwear outside the doors and was asked questions ranging from my family to almost every law that was related to the portfolio.
In another law firm, I saw absolutely no one dressed in formals (except the litigation team), and it had a very chilled out atmosphere. In fact, while I was trying to extremely formal and courteous, I was asked why was I so underconfident.
In one of the most uncomfortable interviews, I was told very blatantly, that my personality is extremely confident and needs to be a little timid for the organization to mold me according to them,
All of these are some of the most learning experiences of my life. It is always very difficult to understand the pattern in the way any organization functions or looks at the potential employee. It is more difficult to transform or mold yourself as per any organization you work with.
So, how can anyone tackle that?
Imagine what would have happened to India had Gandhi changed the way he worked as per the British? Would Jim Carrey be as famous had he acted the conventional way? Organizations and systems never change. You need to make a space for yourself with your talents, with your knowledge.
As difficult as those experiences were for me, I managed to crack each of those interviews, because I had three biggest tools, that made me stand out. I am going to pass them on to you now. Knowledge, patience, and humbleness.
While the first needs to be acquired, the other two walk in with the first. If you are knowledgeable, you would know when to wait and how to be extremely patient however adverse the situation may be, if you are patient, you will be humble. Knowledge will make you humble.
These are some of the most beautiful lessons I have learned in my tryst with the course I took. It just didn’t pick up the pearls of most important and relevant issues from the vast ocean of knowledge for me, but also taught me how to weave it into a beautiful necklace and get a much higher value for it.
I am not an expert yet, but one thing I can tell you. Any course irrespective, cannot guarantee you a job or crack an interview. However, a credible course can make you a person with impeccable knowledge and skills. This is a quality which not everyone has, and thus it won’t be very easy for any firm to let go of you.