drafting skills

I have been applying for jobs since my graduation in 2013! I have lost count of how many jobs and internships I have applied to. I literally have lost count. I did not have any marketable skills like drafting skills when I graduated.Thanks to the convenience of job portals and email options, I must have applied to numerous jobs. There have been countless rejections, most went without any response whatsoever. I don’t know which one bothered me more; the outright automated rejection or, the silence spreading over weeks before the realisation sets in.

The point is, being an avid job applicant (maybe this could go under my hobbies section some day), I have gone through a lot of job profiles prior to applying for them. With the passing years, the requirements have changed and become more specific. For instance, if the role is for a corporate law firm, they are generally looking for a specialist in M&A, PE, VC, etc. If it is for a TMT or Banking role, they are looking for significant experience in the industry.

This makes sense to an extent. Why not hire someone who already knows the role and the industry, rather than investing time to train them?

But apart from the varying specifics, there are some constant requirements too. These are the skill-sets like drafting, understanding litigation, advisory, etc. And amongst them, drafting undoubtedly remains the most common skill set.

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Imagine, what if law schools taught us drafting in a more detailed manner? Considering that it is the most sought after skill set, maybe we should have started learning it from day one at law schools. But most of us did not, did we?

So why is drafting the most sought after skill set?

Drafting is an essential skill set for lawyers and law students alike. Lawyers have to draft plaints, petitions, applications, opinions, variety of contracts, etc. The language of such documents has to be simple, precise and on point. Most people including the laymen, cannot comprehend the legal jargon at all. Therefore, their only resort are lawyers.

The lawyers are trained to comprehend not only the laws, but all legal documents, like complaints, contracts, plaints, etc. The knowledge of law coupled with the ability to understand complex documents is a much desired skill set.  

But if law schools are not teaching drafting skills like litigation related drafting or contract drafting, then what should law students do? There are sample drafts available on the internet or one may do a contract drafting course to learn the practical aspects of the subject matter.

Drafting skills make a huge impact in the formative years for a lawyer. It is literally the bread and butter of all lawyers. The nature of drafting may vary but the impact is huge in any case.

# Supplementary income

The freshers or relatively new lawyers, usually in litigation, face financial uncertainty. Unless one comes from a legal background, it is difficult to sustain in the legal profession. This is where a lawyer’s resourcefulness and perseverance comes in handy. As a junior lawyer, I used to make negligible money compared to my counterparts in corporate or in-house roles. There were a lot of matters and running from courts to conferences and back was involved, but the money was only trickling through.

The practice in Indian legal scenario is mostly of the junior advocates having the privilege of assisting the seasoned lawyers, in lieu of their services. The newer lawyers have to be trained for years by the seniors, therefore to some it may seem a fair trade-off. But the reality of a situation is that money is needed for recurring expenses of the junior lawyers. Unless you have a generous senior, chances are you have to get creative to supplement your income.

This is where drafting skills of a lawyer can help them out. Most of my peers used to draft affidavits, applications, legal notices, complaints, etc. in their initial days, before moving on to plaints, petitions, etc. They used to also draft employment agreement, sale deeds, non-disclosure agreements, leave and license agreement, rent agreement, etc. to make extra income.

# Building practise through repeat clientele

In litigation or corporate law firms, clients are the most important factor as they bring in the business. Without clients, lawyers will literally be jobless. But how do you build a clientele? In my limited experience, I have seen how small acts add to a the bigger picture.

Recently, I had the opportunity to advise a startup duo on their business model. We met due to my younger brother. They started talking about their product to me as soon as my brother mentioned that I was a lawyer. They wanted to know how to best protect their interests. We had a detailed conversation about their possible options and then we all moved on.

A week later, one of them contacted me saying they are going for a soft trial launch with an institute and would like me to draft a suitable agreement to protect their product. I read up on it as I did not have much hands-on experience. After a week of consulting other experts, I drew an agreement and gave them. Then I forgot all about them. After about three weeks or so, I got another call saying they want me to help them register their company! I advised them regarding the kind of company they should register themselves as and connected them to the right people for the task.

What started as an off-hand conversation and discussion led to a favour and the client kept coming back for their legal needs. Once the trust is developed, even from a timely advice or drafting, usually the client will come back to you for the related work. So don’t underestimate the power of drafting. It can set you up with repeat clientele and more from word of mouth. You can build your reputation and business on the back of solid drafting skills. Just learn what you must and get on with it.

# Acquiring marketable skill sets

Check out any job profile for a lawyer on any website or job portal. You will find drafting skills as one of the top-most desired skill set. If you ensure that you learn litigation drafting or contract drafting, you can build an enviable practise.

In litigation, the drafting varies from other kinds of drafting. But there is never a dearth of clients looking for an affidavit, opinion, advise, application, or complaint. Sometimes there are dispute resolutions, settlements, and arbitrations that arise out of the said drafting.

Also in case of contract drafting, two more skill sets are interlinked: negotiation and dispute resolution. These skill sets are well desired in corporate or in-house lawyers as well. The one who is drafting the contract, is generally the one negotiating the same for their clients. They have to literally fight tooth and nail, to get their clients what they want or best need.

The lawyer who has drafted the contract, is also the one to whom the clients will go in case of a dispute. The lawyers insert the dispute resolution mechanism in a contract for potential disputes. Therefore, when it comes to resolving the said disputes, they are the first ones to be sought out by the clients.

These skills sets of drafting, negotiation, and dispute resolution are much desired by lawyers, in order to acquire marketable skill sets. These skill sets help to build one’s career with solid foundation. You know as a lawyer that drafting skills are quintessential towards building a solid career in litigation or as corporate or in-house lawyer.

All the other skill sets of arguing a case, negotiating a contract, dispute resolution – all come from the drafting. If the legal document is lacking in any way or form, the related skill sets will have to work in overdrive to salvage the same. But with good drafting skills, half the battle is won.

Therefore, learning drafting skills in the formative years is essential, towards building a lasting legal career. You may opt for contract drafting course to learn more about the variety of contracts, their drafting, negotiation, dispute resolution, or go the longer route and do it on your own. But don’t stop developing this skill set for it is necessary for the entirety of your legal career.

Good luck!

drafting skills


  1. […] to supplement their income as well as increase their client base. To know more about it read here. A sustainable income is necessary and deserved at this […]


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