This was written by Prof. Shamnad Basheer of NUJS on SpicyIP (July 22, 2010) under the title “Diversity and Thinking Outside the Law Firm Box”. See here.
Many of us have lamented the fact that although the “national law schools” have churned out very gifted lawyers, we’ve lost many of them to law firms. It is but natural that many of them are attracted to financially rewarding jobs that law firms typically guarantee.
However, given that these law schools were established to induce alternative forms of lawyering aimed at improving society, we have to admit that there has been a failure of sorts…and a massive one at that.
It pains me to see so many of our students devastated during the campus recruitment phase when they fail to land jobs with prestigious firms. And the one question I always ask is: are you sure this is what you want to do? Or are you merely following in the illustrious footsteps of your seniors? Surely, there are a million different ways of putting legal skills to use?
Thinking “out of the box” and doing something different than being a mere cog in the wheel of corporate transactional lawyering is certainly more appealing?
More importantly, if you expand out the “base” of potential legal career opportunities, you don’t need to depend so heavily on firms that come to recruit? And surely, this will help future generations of law students that take inspiration from you… and relieve themselves of the herd mentality to think differently?
Why don’t you try something different, I ask in all earnestness? I see a blank face, a blank stare, and oftentimes, a smirk.
So what ails? Why don’t many of our students consider alternative legal careers and look beyond law firms? Or perhaps join firms, but move beyond the typical corporate transactional work to do more pro-bono stuff? I hope to engage with these maladies another day.
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