This article written by Anubhav Pandey, from RJNUL, describes what a lawyer needs to do to get hired by a leading law firm.
Law is a profession and its chief objective is not the acquisition of money. No doubt a profession is a source of living but, a profession is distinguished from trade in its being required to be pursued for the love of the thing. Today, there exists a fierce competition because of the opportunities provided by this field.
What does it take to get hired as a lawyer? What are the qualities required to be a lawyer? What is the importance of extracurriculars, diploma courses while holding a selection process of a professional lawyer in a law firm?
Readers of this blog are expected to be law students as well as graduate job seekers. This article provides a detailed report follows on the hiring process of lawyers in India.
How Law Firms hire Lawyers in India
A Law firm is usually a partnership between the lawyers who have come together to offer their expertise to clients under one name. These partners share the profits of the firm as well as the risks, i.e. the liabilities, and engage other lawyers to work with them as associates.
- These associates can work at the firm for a period of time and provided they establish their competence at work, they can even become partners in the firm and can get their share in the profits and management of the firm. Law firms cater to the interests of the companies and the private individuals alike.
Skills Law Firms Seek While Recruiting Law Graduates
Commercial Acumen – Gone are the days when lawyers were required to give good legal advice only. Now, lawyers working in a law firm need to get well acquainted with the business and the commercial world around them.
- If there is a groundbreaking news in the headlines, how is it going to effect a law firm? It is very important for an individual who wants to work with a law firm to develop a commercial sense on how the business works.
- Consider a situation where a big business industry appoints a certain lawyer or a law firm, it is assumed by the business house that the appointed lawyer is not only well acquainted with laws regarding the business only but, with the business too. Therefore, having an understanding of the commercial world increases one’s chances of being hired in a law firm.
How to Become Commercially Well Versed with the Happenings of Business
This is a skill which one does not inculcate overnight. It requires observing things related to the business, beginning with basic legal education and growing as one embarks on his legal career and climbs the ladder further.
- At the time of interview only, firms begin to check the knowledge of an individual on commercial matters. Research is the easiest way to gain commercial knowledge.
- Reading newspapers, business publications and company newsletters, relevant books, watching relevant TV programs or downloading business podcasts are the primary step towards gaining commercial acumen.
- With work experience, one develops this knowledge. This is the practical and time taking way.
Suggestive Read: A Hacker’s guide to law firm job interviews.
How To Prepare for The Interview On Your Commercial Skills
- During the interview, it is important to demonstrate your knowledge and aptitude in a reasoned and articulate manner. Recruiters are well-qualified and experienced in the working of commercial awareness.
- Though preparation is the key, scanning headlines in the previous day’s paper or some half-baked ideas on how business works will definitely not help you during the interview or in the long run.
- Prior to the interview, make sure you read up on all the relevant material relating to the business and prepare analyses of various developments in the business world.
Good Communication Skills
At the application process itself, it is very important to have good communication skills, both orally as well as written. Being unambiguous and confident is the key towards attaining a good communication skill.
- A Law firm desires these qualities in a lawyer as it becomes very easy to impress clients with good communication skills.
- Associates and even partners need to talk to the client over phone or via email and thus, good communication skills are the must have in anyone who seeks a job in any law firm.
- Ability to listen is also a key skill. One must be a patient listener as well as an attractive speaker.
Ability To Run Along With Others – Teamwork.
- Team spirit is a very important skill in a professional lawyer. Law firm looks for the professional lawyer(s) who not only demonstrate this skill but, who also demonstrate other, less obvious qualities in their answers, such as commercial awareness.
- The sign of a confident, competent professional lawyer is the one who handles problems through honest, prompt communication with clients.
Traditionally 80% of new business should come from existing clients and word of mouth. But, where teamwork is lacking, law firms potentially miss out on lucrative, repeat business from their existing clients.
A typical example would be a corporate deal. Inevitably, corporate transactions, even small ones, will involve property law and intellectual property aspects. Even if the firm does have the specialists and they are all brought in as necessary, if it’s clear that they don’t work well together, this might result in delay, conflict, additional cost and overall reduced client satisfaction.
- When a person is looking for jobs, one might stumble across a career advice that focuses on practical skills. Certainly, legal knowledge and research skills are important. But, studies have shown that the most prospective employers are interested in so-called “soft skills”, like your work ethic, sense of responsibility and the positive & independent attitude.
What Soft Skills Recruiters Look for While Hiring Someone in A Law Firm
- Superstar Associates Enjoy Their Jobs and Are Enthusiastic
One enjoys the job when one can say that, “ I don’t believe I am getting paid for this job.”
Whenever an associate gets a choice assignment, he/she jumps out of joy as it is as per his interest. This shows that the associate will be amazing with the work provided.
One can genuinely get noticed and advance forward in a law firm by showing honest interest in one’s work in its area of practice, with people, in the office environment. If a person doesn’t enjoy its work, it won’t be able to do well. Actors, Musicians, artists, sportsperson, all do well as they love their job and enjoy it.
- Sense of Humor
A good sense of humor is a sign of advanced intelligence. With a good sense of humor, it is very easy to impress others. A good sense of humor works well not only at home but, also makes the office environment more lively.
- Eye Sparkle
Most law firm recruiters consider this as a most important part of the interview.
- It shows the zeal of a person, his willingness to work.
- It establishes a sense of connectivity. Connectivity is an important factor, it shows one can connect with the possible clients.
- Eye sparkle shows one’s willingness to work with someone.
- Mentor-Mentee Relationship
While a professional is young at a law firm, he should have a mentor by his side. It is one of the most foolish mistakes which results in hampering of careers of many lawyers at an early stage only.
Mentors in most of the cases attach themselves with the lawyer because they are attracted by his zeal and interest towards work. Also, mentors do not hesitate to share their knowledge.
- Initial Appearance
Looking your best, keeping your files organized, shoes polished, tie placed properly, having good hygiene i.e. shaving, proper hair cut etc. These are the prima facie impressions. One can either win or lose at this stage.
- Good Resume with Interesting Internships And Diploma Courses
A good resume with good grades, mooting experience, research publications is essentially impressive, which every law firm looks forward to in any lawyer.
A recent trend observed in a recruitment process is –
- A law firm looking for diplomas in courses in which the firm expertises in.
- For example, a law student with a Diploma in Administration & Business law from WBNUJS certificate program might increase his/her chances of getting into a big-time law firm.
- Links of various popular courses offered are attached below-
Bonus Read: How to get a good job in a legal industry?
Skills A Senior Advocate Looks for While Hiring Juniors:
The legal profession is a great and noble profession. Roscoe Pound states that there is much more in a profession than a traditionally dignified calling.
According to him, the term refers to a group of men pursuing a learned art as a common calling in the spirit of public service — no less a public service because it may incidentally become a means of livelihood.
Gaining a livelihood, Roscoe Pound says – is incidental. The three essentials involved in the legal profession, in the view of Roscoe Pound, are –
- A spirit of public service
Here are the 7 qualities which a senior advocate looks for while hiring a junior.
The Lamp of Devotion
A Law is a profession and its chief object is not the acquisition of money, no doubt a profession is a source of living. It, therefore follows that those only should take to the law who love the work and who can be trusted to be devoted to the ideals of the profession. Devotion is the most important thing which any professional lawyer looks for while hiring a junior.
Lamp of Industry
No man can ever hope to succeed in the profession who is not industrious. In this profession, there is no resting on one’s oars and till the last day of one’s practice, one must be prepared to do strenuous and unremitting work.
Genius is only a capacity to take infinite pains.
No one has ever succeeded in the profession without industry.
The Lamp of Study
Of course, the study of the law is absolutely indispensable to a professional lawyer. He must be up-to-date as the phrase goes, “because what was good law yesterday might have ceased to be good law today.”
In this profession, therefore, more than any other, it is necessary that the practitioner should be up-to-date. A senior professional lawyer would always expect his junior lawyer to provide him with latest updates on judgments and legal points.
Lamp of Character
This is central of the seven lamps, the keystone of the arch. A Character is not limited merely to money matters. A lawyer is first a man and then only a lawyer. It is the high character in the profession that makes for the esteem and regard in which a lawyer is held not only by the members of the profession but, also by the Judges and the public. It is best for every lawyer to make it a principle to never do anything which he will be ashamed of or sorry.
Lamp of Art
There is much scope in the profession of the law for the exercise of art, i.e. the way of doing things, so as to make it attractive, persuasive and effective. Even in the drawing of pleadings, there should be an element of art, of order, of clearness, of persuasiveness and so on.
Of course, Advocacy is itself a great art and the scope for exercising it in the profession is indeed very great. That is what makes most for the difference between one man and another.
Lamp of Detachment
If the last, it is by no means the least. For the essential happiness of a lawyer, detachment is necessary. For any large measure of success in the profession, it is also indispensable. No one can do his duty well or properly who is always thinking of the result.
The Vedantic idea of doing the duty in the scorn of consequences and without being anxious about the result is the ideal of the legal profession. No lawyer, who is thinking of the case that has been lost, can possibly conduct the next case satisfactorily.
Lamp of Experience
This one is indeed the most enlightening one. It is with time a lawyer gains required experience of functioning at a bar. One learns through experience. A junior counsel should always be patient while at every affair. This trait shows his calmness and dedication towards work. It is a trait which boosts a junior’s progress towards success. 
Additional Read: Rules for anyone look for a job in a law firm.
At the end of the day, what matters is the Justice. If your service is able to save the innocent from injustice, your work is done!
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References- Extracts taken from, a short summary of a speech delivered by Mr. V.V Srininasa, Aiyangar, under the auspices of the Bar Association at Rajahmundry on Saturday the 26th of July 1941.