By Abhyudaya Agarwal, Co-Founder, iPleaders
My batch-mates and juniors tell me that I was lost in my own world whenever they met me.
Looking back, I feel I lived my life like a zombie, always worrying about survival through the difficult law school journey.
Will I eventually get a job? Will all the hard work be useful eventually? In many cases, I didn’t even know if I was going in the right direction.
For example, in 4th year, I failed three consecutive interviews for foreign law firms, despite having great internships and doing all the necessary preparation I could have imagined (although in my 5th year I was able to succeed consecutively at Amarchand, Luthra and Trilegal interviews).
Maybe I was going in the wrong direction?
Fast forward a couple of years.
When I worked at Trilegal, I realized how little of what we learn in class or internships is relevant in our day-to-day work.
In fact, after counselling more than a few hundred students personally, I have noticed that the same job or internship outcomes can be achieved with about 20 per cent of the work, if a student has the right direction and coaching.
I had so wished I had a mentor at that point in time, to guide me, provide feedback, facilitate skill development, unveil the next challenge for me and be with me through my journey (at least for some period of time).
For example, I wish a practitioner could have done some career counselling for me, taken mock interviews and shared a recruiting partner’s perspective when he or she makes a hiring decision. When I think of five law school experiences I had, I am certain that a mentor could have really made a difference.
In my 1st, 2nd and 3rd year, I had the impression that participation in conferences, paper presentations, moots and the university’s law review were the most important aspects to building my CV.
80 per cent of my time was spent on this. At the time of recruitment, I realized their real relevance. I would have been at a very different place had I pursued these activities out of sheer interest instead of a desire for recognition or feeling accomplished. I felt my life principles and worldview in law school were overturned.
In one corporate law firm internship in 3rd year, I did no M&A or capital markets work (areas of my interest) because these practice areas were in Bombay office only. I had no idea about this when I had applied for the internship.
In 3rd year, I performed a due diligence exercise in an internship at one of the best law firms in the country, where I was summarizing and making tables of more than 50 rent agreements.
It appeared mechanical and I almost fell asleep. Looking back, I realized how significant a transaction I was a part of. I wish someone would have given me the background then so that I could perform better.
In my 4th year internship, there were countless times I felt lost while proof-reading a commercial document in an internship. What was expected of me and how could I learn from as simple task such as checking numbering and grammar in a document? I wish someone could sit down with me and explain things.
In 4th and 5th year, I was able to get some help from associates I met where I interned, but somehow I was never able to seek help when I had a doubt.
Last minute help was not optimal for improvement and I barely called anyone. This was because I had barely developed my own connections and created mental barriers in using my network. I wish a mentor could have helped me with that.
At the time of recruitment, I had a stellar CV with a great rank, good internships and lots of co-curricular activities.
However, I had completely forgotten what I had done in my internships. What would I answer in the interview? I literally tore my hair trying to recall and figure out an answer that would impress interviewers, the day before the interview. In reality, the interview tested me on different things.
I can’t re-live my own law school days, but I want to definitely contribute in yours charting an alternate plan, something that could have been possible for me if I had the guidance.
I want to make it available for you. What would it look like if you had a mentor? What kind of issues could you expect clarity and coaching on? Here’s a quick list of pointers that you might want to use when you interact with mentors.
Challenges in 1st and 2nd year and relevance of mentorship
How to process voluminous legal information (case laws, journal articles, etc.) and learn law in a way that can be useful for clients, irrespective of the quality of teaching
Converting your legal knowledge into skills you can use in future
Developing your writing skills (for projects, articles, internship applications, etc.)
How to build your CV
Planning internships for the next one or two years
Real relevance of mooting and publishing articles for getting jobs
Explain different careers, skills required for each and how different industries
Challenges in 3rd year and how a mentor can help you
3rd year of law school is very crucial in shaping up one’s career, as well as getting exposure to the corporate world through an internship. At this stage, guidance on the following points can be extremely helpful.
What do you need to do to bag a corporate law internship? How long can the process process of application and securing the internship typically take? What if your CV is not good enough currently? How should you handle rejection and build a stronger profile?
What is the secret to performing well in a law firm internship? What kind of advance preparation is necessary for performing well?
What are the skills a corporate lawyer should have? How can you plan future activities in law school in that direction?
Challenges in 4th and 5th year and how a mentor can help
How to use your free time in 4th and 5th year to acquire skills necessary to perform well in law firms
Taking mock interviews and providing feedback
Performing mock exercises to develop professional skills
How get an internship of your choice
How to start building your own professional network so that you have the ability to choose internships / jobs irrespective of your rank or family connections
How can you find a mentor for yourself? Here a couple of ways:
1) Speak to the person you worked under at an internship (should be someone of associate or legal manager level or above).
2) Have structured conversations with mentors every month, consistently, month after month for a year.
We are happy to include access to a mentorship platform in the NUJS business laws diploma, to help you develop your communication, networking, writing skills, access career counselling, perform real-life exercises and build a portfolio.
Get guidance on conversations to have with mentors, feedback on your CV, practice mock interviews and work on your writing skills.
Want to know more about the course or the mentorship platform? Write to us at [email protected]
Enrolment is open for the current batch starting on 31st October 2015.