What is the first image that pops up in your mind after you hear the word Lawyer?
I believe that the majority either goes for Amrish Puri as Chaddha from Damini or Gabriel Macht as Harvey Specter from Suits (super fan btw).
While there is no harm in idolising these fictional characters (okay a little in idolising Chaddha), it completely blurs the sight of the real scenario. The reel and real world of law have almost nothing in common.
Where does the problem start?
Young law aspirants who walk into a University with starry eyes and truckloads of dreams in their mind about being the best closer in town have no idea what awaits them at the end of the tunnel.
This might seem like a funny situation and people who have graduated and faced the music might have a laugh about it over coffee with colleagues but the situation is scary.
One of the major reasons why we are unable to produce quality lawyers is that aspirants spend their time thinking about a reality which is far from ours and when it’s time to pay the piper, the chips come crumbling down.
It’s difficult to perceive and far-fetched to imagine that this can be affecting our legal fraternity but you’ll be surprised to know what 5-7 years of expectations followed by disappointment can do to a person.
Students spend their time at law school and it somehow manages to be what they see in movies or at least it is in their power to make themselves a law student from the screen (Marshall from HIMYM :P).
As soon as they graduate, they have this idea where they get to approach a person, throw 5 catchy lines and maybe even bluff which would eventually lead to a massive victory in less than 45 minutes. That LITERALLY never happens, the reality is far from their daydream, in reel vs real, the students lose.
This phenomenon has brought disappointment to a lot of young lawyers in their first job and might be one of the reasons why this generation is not good at sticking with their first job for long.
Here are ways which may help the situation
I cannot stress this enough, a law student needs to intern as much as she/he can right from the first year of law school. The internships need to be about real work and assistance to the employer and not simply sipping coffee and carrying files.
The intern needs to closely observe what work the employer does and what it takes to be at that position. There is a need to look past shiny watches, expensive cars and crisp clothes of the employer, there is a long road which was traveled on foot before she/he arrived in that car.
The employers have the responsibility to mentor their interns about the struggles that this profession throws at its new members and make them understand about reel vs real.
Suits are GREAT but also try Erin Brockovich.
Entertainment is necessary, one cannot be all about work (work work work work 😛 Rihanna CHILL). We all agree Suits has entertained us in a way which cannot be replaced but there has to be a mix in our quiver. If law students must resort to legal flicks, there are classics like Erin Brockovich, To Kill a Mockingbird and Michael Clayton available in the market.
Always mix things up so that you don’t end up being overly attached to a character and expect your life to be a mirror image of her/him, always remember that real has always won reel vs real.
Here is a list of law-themed movies that you can watch.
Law is the most diverse career of all, there are SO MANY fields you can move to after your law school. There is not a single arena where you will be able to skip reading and yet make it big. One needs to develop a habit of reading books because you will be reading a lot once you start with this profession.
To prepare yourself about the future, it is empirical that you know about the giants who walk or walked these halls. Read extensively about the greatest lawyers of India through books like Legal Eagles, about the new era corporate achievers on blogs like legally India, read the advice that they send your way on Lawctopus (yours truly).
As for those yet to start their law school life, read law as a career by Tanuj Kalia to know more about the real scenario in this profession.
Network and Meet.
Everybody advises that law students and professionals should network extensively. It is because law students and professionals MUST network extensively. It does not start and end on LinkedIn, that would not be a connection that you can reach out to for help.
When you make a connection, talk to that person, let her/him know that you’re interested in learning the ways of the profession, take them out for coffee and KNOW about their journey and understand what exactly is reel vs real.
Old is Gold.
Always have at least one mentor who has been in the industry for more than 30 years, they have given their lives to this profession and have advice to offer which no other person/resource can provide because it is their own personal experience.
Once you have one mentor from that generation, try to learn as much as you can about how law used to be and then use your new experiences as well as young connections to analyze what has changed over the time, many things would change except the GRIND that this profession demands.