A good number of law students enter law school with starry eyes filled with a dream to don the shiny Prada suit that Harvey Specter wears and get a 500$ haircut before they sit in their black Mustang and reach their law firm. Although everyone who has graduated will agree that this line of thought is the apex of Utopian dreams, it is not completely wrong to have big dreams.
As our elders have said, ” Aim for the moon, if you miss you will hit a star”. I have no idea which astronomical instrument they used to calculate the distance between the moon and the stars but I do know that hope is a powerful thing.
Even though it is nearly impossible to recreate the life of Harvey Specter in yours right after you graduate (or a few years down the lane), a person can, through hard work and dedication, one can land a job at the top tier law firms of India. It will not be Prada, 500$ hairdo or a mustang right away but it will still be worthy of your efforts.
Pre Placement Offer
One of the most efficient ways to land up at the top tier law firms in the country is by way of a Pre Placement Offer or PPO. Do not get me wrong, when I say it is the most efficient way, I do not mean to downplay the amazing placement cells who work hard and get their students placed.
The point to ponder is that people who get the job through a PPO already know what the job is going to be like, while those placed through placement cells once placed, might not like the environment or the job profile they get.
A Pre Placement Offer is when a firm gives a job offer letter to a student who is still in the 4th or 5th year of study at law school. It ensures that once the candidate graduates, he can join the firm immediately without and selection process at that time. The firms which provide PPOs are also generous with the paychecks for their employees.
How and Why do law firms give PPOs?
Law firms give pre-placement offers to their best interns who have spent considerable time at their office working and displaying to the leadership that they can handle high-pressure jobs. A big law firm in the internship season has anywhere between 8-18 interns depending on the size of the office and quality applications at the moment.
They handpick one or two out of that pool, if the candidate shows promise in work and attitude, for a callback internship next season. After a series of internships, they are assessed on the basis of their worksheets, performance, review and final selection interview. If a partner roots for an intern based on the work she did, the PPO gets almost confirmed.
A candidate gets judged on several criteria before being offered a pre-placement offer. The message that a PPO sends is the candidate, even before finishing law school, has shown the level of knowledge, dedication, promise and skills that we expect in a graduated candidate to be accepted as Associate.
Why getting a PPO is better than getting placed after college?
A lot of people will answer this wrongly. Yes, we all know that once you get a PPO, the rest of the time in law school is nothing but partying around and enjoying with your peers. While I am on board with that idea (aggressively in support), the more important reason is different. It is seen that many people from top tier law schools get selected in some of the best law firms of the country through the placement cell of their college.
They join the office after college, work for a few months but could never adjust to the work culture that the law firms offer and the amount of time they demand. It caused a lot of associates from all levels of law firms to resign within months or one year of joining. This is not beneficial for the candidate or the firm. The process is taxing on both the candidate and the recruiter.
This is where a PPO is a better option. In order to score a PPO, you not only have to be the best intern in the office consistently but also be as useful as an associate of the office. The responsibility may be different on some levels between an intern and an associate in the office, however, the amount of time and effort that an intern invests to get a PPO is nowhere less.
The intern gets aware of what is to come once she joins the office. There is no surprise in the form of work environment or pressure. It certainly lowers the chance of the associate resigning within months of joining. The employers are also happy since the time of internship had already taught about the work that the intern has to do as an associate.
How to score a PPO at a big law firm?
Before I answer this, I will assume that the candidate is able to get internships at big law firms. If you struggle to score an internship with a firm, getting a PPO is out of the question (harsh but true).
Read our post on how to get your dream internship.
Let us understand what an employer sees in an intern before offering him/her the job. The employer should be able to see the intern as a hard-working employee of the firm. Yes, employee, which means not leaving early with the interns or coming late. It is also seen that how diligent the intern is with the work that is given to him/her.
So no matter how small the task is, before you turn it in, double or triple check. If you are used t handing over your work to your senior without checking for mistakes, the PPO is never coming your way.
The employer also sees how much value are you adding to the firm as an intern and how much value will you be able to add as an associate if they were to offer you the job. Always find that case law which brings your senior out of the fix, learn how to be good with technology, multitask, know how to operate machines in the office. Complete the tasks in time and make sure your work reflects what the employer wants to see in an associate’s work.
Think like an associate and dress like one. If you want a PPO, understand that your overall appearance matters. You cannot waltz into client meetings with those sneakers that you think are cool, or with that funky hairdo (that girls dig). Dress to impress and in a manner that whenever you walk in the office, you should fit in with the associate and stand out in the interns.
Know your subjects well, if you are working in the corporate team of the law firm, not only should you be aware of the company law but you should have a quiver of published papers to back your candidacy, supported by a moot in that subject along with a course on the same. Your overall profile should not only reflect the team that you are a part of, but it should also drip the subject that you are supposed to work in.
Read our post on internships at big law firms.