This article is written by Rajat Chawda of the Institute of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad. This article explains whether a person can build a career focusing only on some particular skill sets.
Every person wants to be successful and be respected in society. To get himself established, a person tries to knock on doors of every opportunity it can get hold of. But Law is a diverse field, there are a lot of career options available for a law aspirant like the judiciary, litigation, corporate practice, in-house counsel, research, and many more. A lot of these fields require almost similar kind of skill sets but there are some specific attributes if an aspirant masters it, he can open the door to immense opportunities and success.
This post deals with two such broad areas: negotiation and drafting. What are the career options available to a person who masters them? What are the skills required? How can one improve such skills? It also describes an emerging area related to startups and tech business: Can a person build a career specializing in enforcing tech contracts?
Can you build a career specializing in negotiating, drafting and enforcing tech contracts?
According to Josh Kaufman (Author of the bestselling book, ‘The First 20 Hours Rule: How to Learn Anything….Fast’), it takes a human being only 20 hours to learn a new skill. The time spent after these concentrated 20 hours is the duration when one specializes in that skill. Therefore, a law aspirant can also develop his skill sets using this principle. Any skill learned is not a waste but an asset, which will definitely give results when the time comes. So, a person should learn as many skills he can and be a better person than the person he was yesterday.
But the question is, Can I build a career while focusing only on some skills?; Yes! You can build a career but it is always better to have a wider perspective and not a bird’s eye view when it comes to specializing skills.
This post deals with two such areas or tools of a lawyer: Drafting & Negotiation and a specific area: whether a career can be built by only enforcing tech contracts.
Since law governs almost every aspect of an individual’s life, it will be wrong to say that there is a dearth of work in this field. If you find a lawyer who does not have sufficient work in hand, it is probably because he lacks the required skill sets to make an impact on others and get more work. To not fall under this category of lawyers, it is suggested to learn and develop the appropriate skills.
What will be the various career options available to a lawyer who has been specialized in negotiating and drafting?
Specialization in Negotiation
Negotiation is the art of convincing the other parties to put forward one’s interest in a manner that the opposite party agrees to your position while putting forward his standing over a dispute. If you have specialization in negotiations is dispute resolution broadly. Following are the career opportunities to look after:
In arbitration, a lawyer can be both an arbitrator or representing his client for arbitration. Arbitration is the alternative form of dispute resolution from courts, where speedy resolution is the thriving force behind its introduction. Arbitration is attractive for businessmen, companies who generally avoid litigation because of its slow pace, and the amount of money involved.The decision of an arbitration is a binding one. Therefore, it is necessary for a person that his interests are rightly and logically put forward at the time of arbitration. For this reason, a person would want to hire only a lawyer who is specialized in this field, know its intricacies, and has a good credibility in the legal fraternity.
In every court case, there is one winning side and one losing side. But, when the parties involved are the people we are related to, the matter may become worse. Healthy family relations get destroyed while the case is even going on. To avoid such situations, it is always suggested to go for mediation to resolve family and petty civil disputes. There are petty civil disputes like family disputes, property disputes, divorce matters, etc which need to be handled carefully, efficiently and effectively. A lawyer’s role is to adjudge the position of both parties, listen to their problems with patience and mediate their dispute in a way that is in the interests of both parties. Therefore, a lawyer who has the patience to listen to both the parties, analyze the dispute carefully will be the desired mediator to resolve their dispute.
3. Client Counselling
A person may require the guidance of a lawyer at any point in time, he might be going through strained family relations, civil disputes, criminal matters, or even business disputes. A good lawyer must always make himself available whenever his client is in a dire situation. It is the lawyer’s duty and responsibility, to listen carefully to the problems of his client, look for every possibility which can resolve his problem, discuss with him the best possible way to resolve the situation and work as per the direction of the client. It is most important that the lawyer renders his service as per the instructions given by the client and not work by himself. There might come a situation when the client specifically gave instructions and the lawyer disregarded it to be in the best interest of the client but in reality, the client does not want that.
Example: In an inheritance dispute, a client instructs his lawyer to back off from any claims in the property which he was rightfully the owner of, to maintain family relations. But the lawyer does the opposite to that hoping to be in the best interest of his client. This is not the mark of a good lawyer who does not listen to his client.
Negotiation is all about convincing that your presentation of facts is the correct and true version. If one possesses and specializes in this skill, he can easily represent his clients before the court. The art of making arguments by a lawyer before the judge, assessing his mood, using appropriate and the initial stage of a court proceeding decides the behavior of the judge towards the case in hand. It is said that if a person wants something from another person, he has to ask for it properly in proper behavior. If one, while negotiating, gets hold of that behavior, no one can beat him at his game.
Specialization in Drafting
Drafting is the first step towards giving physical form to an idea or thought. This thought could be anything, a story, a case brief, an article, an essay or legislation deliberated between people. Specialization in drafting requires clarity of thought and excellent writing skills. A lawyer who is well-versed with the intricacies of drafting has the following career options:
Research involves in-depth analysis and study of existing material to reach new conclusions and establish facts. Through research, a person benefits in many ways. First, he specializes in the specific area in which he is conducting research. Second, after the research gets completed, there is clarity of thought in the mind of the researcher, therefore he can provide assistance in that subject-matter. Third, when research is useful for others the researcher will get proper credit for his research and through this way he can establish his credibility in that field and interact with many other people of his likes.
A lawyer always needs the best and reliable man who can work on his behalf drafting important documents, files affidavit, replies, manages all his case-work and appointments so that a lawyer does not have to worry about the backend work. A paralegal eases the workload of a lawyer and therefore the lawyer has more time to deal with a case effectively and efficiently. If a paralegal is aware of the legal requirements to draft a document, can draft an excellent reply, can perform legal research effectively without the requirement of cross-checking by any other person, he will be surely impacting a lot in this field.
Governance is a tremendous task, especially for a country like India, where people are not aware or well-versed with its legal principles and arrangements. Policymaking involves formulating policies, rules for these people. Policymaking involves in-depth research of the demographics, awareness of socio-political problems and the constitutional mechanism of the state. A policymaker, while making policy has to keep in mind the present scenario of a problem, how can by formulating a policy resolve that problem, what impact will be brought in the society by implementing that policy, what will be the public reaction. A specialized policymaker will consider all these factors and draft a policy that is in the interests of all.
With the rapid development in technology and with the advent of globalization, the whole is enclosed in our devices. The online world has immense potential to grow our career or business further. There are many online platforms like Freelancer, Fiverr, Upwork, etc that enable a service provider to work from home. There are many opportunities in front of a good drafter to write ghost articles, write in journals, magazines, etc and showcase his skills. A good drafter can also provide his services to lawyers, drafting replies, affidavits, case files, etc on behalf of them.
Enforcing Tech Contracts
Till now, the post has provided for various career options that a person can choose if he specializes in negotiating and drafting. But what about if one specializes in tech contracts: negotiating, drafting and enforcing them? Can a career be built if one only specializes in tech contracts only?
Yes, with the advent of globalization and digitalization, all business companies want to make their presence on the internet and have a digital presence in rendering services or advertising or for any other reason. Daily millions of worth of contracts are entered into by tech companies. An article on CompTia stated that the IT industry will reach a mark of $5.2 trillion net worth in the year 2020. Therefore, a person who specializes in tech contracts is aware of the bits and pieces of the tech world will surely be able to create an impact in this field.
What do tech contracts deal with? Are there any special skills that require specialization?
Need for Technological Companies and Tech Agreements
Tech agreements are just not limited to acquiring technology to have an online presence or just related to software or digital technology. They also include licensing of technology for protection against intellectual property infringement and to be safe from potential risks.
Since technology law is a growing area of law most lawyers are not well-versed with the field and go for conventional contract clauses whereby the parties sign standard terms of business. Therefore, such practices provide less legal protection.
To avoid such situations the company requires a lawyer who is aware of technological developments and is well-versed with intricacies of contract law, which will help them in negotiating a better deal and minimize the legal risks involved in a business transaction.
What Tech Contracts Include?
Having discussed why specialization in tech contracts is important and lucrative, it is important to know what tech contracts include, what subject matters do they deal with?
It should be noted that all tech contracts are general contracts but what makes them a separate subject matter is the technical understanding of the subject and why such transactions are taking place in the first place.
Majorly, the following are the agreements which a lawyer in this field needs to look after:
- Outsourcing Agreements
These are the agreements to render services by a service provider to a company, in which the service provider promises to provide the necessary service. The services may include data processing, information management by using own workforce, equipment and facility,
- Software Development and License Agreements
The agreement to develop software by the developer for a client is a software development agreement. When such software is being made, the client becomes the owner of this property. He has the power to control who can use this, when can he use this and how can he use this. When the owner transfers some of these rights to another person, it is a license agreement whereby he is licensing the purchaser’s rights.
- Cloud Computing Agreements
When there is an arrangement that involves accessing a provider’s software and infrastructure remotely and includes storing of customers data with that of the service provider.
- Website Development Agreements
The agreement between a company and a web developer to develop to render his services as per the requests of the client. The agreement lists the responsibilities and tasks of the web developer, the liability of the company, terms, and conditions, website warranties and representations.
- IT support and maintenance agreements
The agreement between the service provider and the client to support the functioning of the software, which includes: diagnosis of problems or performance deficiencies of the Software and a resolution of the problem or performance deficiencies of the Software.
With rapid development in data privacy laws, and blockchain technology, Technology law jurisprudence is evolving at a faster pace and more subjects are being introduced with the passage of time. This rapid jurisprudence in the technology law means more workload for the lawyers which are specialized in this field and keep themselves updated with the happenings in the field.
There are no specific skills required to be specialized in the field of tech contracts as they are somewhat similar to general contracts. The only thing which makes them different is the technicality involved. If one keeps himself aware of the technological updates and its basic understanding, it will be sufficient enough to render services efficiently and effectively as a tech lawyer.
Ways to Pursue
These were some career opportunities that a lawyer can pursue if he is specialized in negotiating and drafting skills. But mentioning career options is not just enough unless there is no direction given on how to pursue them, how one can enter into this field. These are some following things that a lawyer can use in the initial phase of his life to make an impact in this field:
1. Building a Network
It is not possible to build a career in any field unless you have credibility in that specific field. Credibility can be earned by engaging with fellow lawyers, helping them out, seeking out opportunities that you will never be able to have if you had not known them. Linkedin is one of the best platforms to build your network, engage with fellow mates, have their opinions and put ours and make an impact in the fraternity. By building a network, one can get hold of potential clients through references, as it said that alone we can do little, together we can do so much.
2. Working in that field
One cannot grow unless he is out there struggling in that field. Have you ever heard of any person who is specialized in a field and is not working? Every day is a struggle for a person who has to make an impact on his career. By working, a person gets to know how the institution of a particular field functions, what are the relevant instruments and skills needed to be developed and where one is currently positioned in the field.
Interacting helps a person to know other people around him. It helps to keep oneself aware of the happenings around him and keep oneself updated helps him to prepare for the forthcoming situations and make himself ready for everything. Interacting also helps a person to grow contacts, grow his network connections and reach out to potential clients.
Internship helps a person to assess himself, at what level he is standing in a field. Internship helps to get oneself acquainted with the know-how of the field. It also gives a person the platform to apply the theoretical knowledge learned in the practical field. By working in the practical field, the person assesses his skills and further develops the skills he lacks in the field. Through an internship, one can also create an impact on the potential recruiters by showcasing his skills and thereby getting recruited.
It is important to know how one has performed, what impression he had left in the minds of others. One can only improve by learning from his mistakes. Feedback enables a person to understand where the person lacked while rendering his services. If you render services to a person, know what their expectations were, how satisfied they are with your performance, was there anything where they lacked to perform. Feedback is not sufficient to make an impact on one’s career, it is important to learn from the feedback and improve oneself. If nothing is learned from the feedback, it is of no use.
These are some ways through which one can enter the field in which he specializes and start his career. This is not an exhaustive list but a mere guiding list, a person can find out his own ways to enter into a field apart from these conventional ways.
Till now we have listed out various career opportunities and the ways to pursue that if you have been specialized in negotiation and drafting. But now, this post will discuss the skills which are required to build a career in these fields and how one can improve them. It is okay if one does not have these skills right now (Remember you can learn a skill in just 20 hours!), but it is not okay if one does not start learning and leave his comfort zone. Following are some skills which will have to be perfected to make an impact on these fields:
1. Public speaking
In simple terms, public speaking is the ability and the confidence of a person to articulate in front of others. Can you present and talk on a topic fluently and tirelessly and love doing that? If yes, then you are already good at public speaking. If a person can put forward arguments fluently and logically, he is already a good public speaker.
If one has to specialize in negotiating, he has to grasp the ability to convince others. To convince others is the ability to make others agree to your interest without compromising yours. If one gets the skill to convince others in any sort of dispute, it should be considered as the battle is already half won. If one lacks the ability to convince others, it would be difficult for him to get the opposite party to agree to his position.
3. General Awareness
A lawyer should be aware of all the happening around him. Being aware of the happening going around him helps a lawyer to draft his arguments and speech keeping in mind the present scenario. Being aware helps to create an impression on the other about the active participation of a person in the development of the society, become a better and responsible citizen and thereby others will also try to be responsible to match up to that person. It adds weight to an argument when it is presented with the happenings around and if the opposite party is not aware of the situation, chances are less that they will counter that argument while arguing.
4. Excellent writing skills
Writing is a continuous process, one cannot perfect the art of writing. It takes time, patience and a lot of reading and patience to write well. Through writing, one gains clarity of thought to articulate his argument structurally, logically, and fluently from one point to another point. Writing is an important skill that every person should practice as it is an immense benefit to both personally and socially.
As it is said that practice makes a man perfect, if you have learned a skill, all required is that you practice these skills and day by day become better at it. There are a lot of ways to improve these skills.
It is most basic amongst the tools to improve one’s skill sets. By studying a specific skill set, one gets to understand the deeper theoretical aspects of it. By studying extensively one grasps the clarity and command over the subject. Therefore, studying will help to better the argument and presentation because one is well-versed and prepared with the subject and is comfortable in that area.
The publication is the second step after studying a specific area. When one has studied effectively about a specific area, how can he share his knowledge, experience and command over that specific area? Publishing articles on relevant topics related to that field, which can help others to gain clarity in that subject can help a person build credibility in that specific field. The publication will encourage others to contribute and add further to the field and hence promote engagement within the community.
3. Attending Workshops and Seminars, Interacting with peers
By attending various workshops and seminars one gets to understand the viewpoint and perspective of another on a particular subject. Discourse is the best way to understand and gain clarity over a subject. Workshops and seminars are attended by like-minded people of a specific area. Attending such events and interacting with others helps to grow one’s network in the fraternity and share what one’s understanding is about a specific subject matter.
4. Internship and improving from the feedback
It is well established that there is a lag between the theoretical knowledge provided and the practical skills applied in the field. So, one can improve his skills drastically by working on the ground assessing himself daily. An internship also provides a platform to get feedback from the people already established in a specific field. Feedbacks are of great value to improve oneself while interning, the people already established in the field assess where a person is lacking and suggest him appropriate advice to improve.
Setting the Right Example
Every claim which is asserted is to be backed by some reason, proof, or evidence. Throughout this post, we made an assertion that a career can be built by specializing in negotiation, drafting, and enforcing tech contracts. But now, we have back our claim by giving examples. There is not a perfect example that matches this area of law but depicts that a career can be built by specializing in a specific field.
1. Ikigai Law
This law firm is an award-winning law firm, which has a market-leading regulatory, policy and commercial-law practice for technology and innovation-led businesses.
2. Bayar Goswami
Mr. Goswami is the perfect example that one can build a career specializing in a specific field. He specialized in the field of Air and Space Law, which is unconventional and a new field. But, by specializing in this developing field he has opened a door of new opportunities for himself.
Therefore, a career can be built by specializing in negotiating, drafting and enforcing tech contracts. This post has tried to list out some career options and relevant skills required, how to improve them, how to pursue them. It should be kept in mind that it takes time and patience to make an impact in the field, as is said success is a journey, not a destination.
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