This article is written by Ramanuj Mukherjee, CEO, LawSikho.

I really like what you are teaching in your courses, but I do not have the money to take such courses. How can I learn these things without having to pay for your course? Is there any other way?

It’s a very intelligent question and I respect it. My advice is always please go and check out our weekly learning objectives, weekly exercises and syllabus of any course you like, and then try to learn those things on your own. 

There is always a way, even if it is much more difficult and longer.

There are two ways actually, apart from taking our course. Let me tell you about them.

The background

I feel compelled to write this down because I am getting asked these questions several times every day on social media. Now that I am writing it all down, systematically, I can just send a link to anyone who asks me this question again and they will find the detailed answer they need.

Note: as a lawyer if you are asked certain basic questions too many times, you should also do this. Write a blog post and publish, and then whenever people ask you the same thing instead of having to give a long but accurate answer all over again, you can simply send them the link.

Saves time, and helps people much better.

Also, there is one more question that needs to be addressed. The elephant in the room. You may wonder why I am giving advice on what can substitute my courses. Isn’t that against my business interest?

Well, I know that out of the tens of thousands of people who read my mail regularly, only a small percentage, less than 1% probably, will ever buy a course from LawSikho.

And I am absolutely fine with that. 

The value we capture in life, in terms of money, success, satisfaction, TRP or anything else, is a direct function on how much value we generate for how many people. One sureshot way to reach a large number of people and therefore increase your catchment of influence is to give away lots of valuable things away for free. This always enhances what we are entitled to from our lives. Never hesitate to generate value for people. That is how the new economy works after all.

I have no hesitation in giving you what you want, because I am very secure that what I build is so valuable that there will always be takers for that. And thankfully, I and my team of more than 30 very dedicated colleagues are therefore well taken care of.

I hope you will also consider giving away your best insights and knowledge some day to other people without hesitation and remember that the more you give away to the universe, the more it gives back to you.

Now let’s get to the point. 

Since you only learn some sections and case laws in law college, and 5 years of legal education leave you grossly unprepared for working as a lawyer, and therefore making it very hard for you to land a decent job where you can do meaningful work and get even a subsistence salary, what can you do to upskill yourself so that you can start your legal career on a strong footing?

Of course, you need to learn the practical knowledge. What work do the lawyers with 2-3 years of good experience, who are getting decent salaries in well to do law firms, know to do? You need to find out. That’s your gateway task.

You need to know what are those skills and then you have to learn them. Yes, our courses work because we exactly focus on this – teaching these skills so that if you go for an internship, or an interview, or even a client meeting, you can wow those people with your precise understanding, knowledge and insights regarding the work you are required to do.

This is a far cry from the approach most people take – that is to aimlessly send CVs to organizations hoping that someone will hire them and then teach the work.

Sorry, nobody is sitting there fantasizing about hiring your brilliant raw mind and then training you into an amazing lawyer. Did happen in Suits, doesn’t happen in the real world.

In this world, lawyers want to hire law graduates who are amazing at their work already, have minimal expectations and will just do the work without requiring to be told what has to be done. That’s what they even fantasize about.

But if you do not want to pay for a course, what is the alternative way to learn the same work, so that you can fit into that fantasy nonetheless?

One slow but inexpensive way is to do long term internships. You can learn a lot from an internship that runs into 6 months to 1 year provided there is a senior who is interested in you learning. 

This part is tricky. When you are doing an internship for free or for a pittance, everyone would want to have you in their office, and if for nothing else then just to carry around their files. But would they be caring enough to think your training and development through? Will they make time to give you some meaningful training? 

That’s really tricky to answer.

Not that carrying around legal files is a bad thing. Simply by shadowing a good lawyer while carrying his files you may learn invaluable lessons. However, honestly, that happens quite rarely. So be careful about how you use your time. Many lawyers have wasted precious years of their lives doing all sorts of things that led them nowhere.

That’s a big danger in the legal profession.

Also getting those desirable long term internships can be quite difficult to land as only very few lawyers are able to give time to interns and those are very high in demand. Even to qualify for most amazing internships, you need to have a super CV and need to bring some serious skill or abilities into the game to get selected in the first place.

So yes, a lot depends on luck. Still, you need to work really hard to even give your luck a solid chance here. Also, unfortunately, many law schools do not even allow their law students to do a long term internship, closing this avenue completely. Try to convince your teachers to allow you to do such long term internships.

Remember that for this strategy to work well, you need to pick the right lawyer to work with. It is not necessary to work with famous people. In fact, the more famous and busy people are least likely to have a lot of time for you. Do your research. Ask around about which lawyers take enough initiative to develop his or her juniors, and try to get a stint with them.

This long term internship is a hit or miss for most people, so if you get the wrong internship, have no qualms about jumping ship.

Even those law students who do our courses, I encourage them as well to do long term internships wherever possible, the difference being that they also get our guidance and recommendations for landing the right kind of internships.

What is the second way?

You need to find a lawyer who will mentor you and teach you for at least 3 hours a week. Around the year, at least for a year. Take an area of law in which such a lawyer is doing well, and request him to teach the same to you.

Given how busy lawyers are, I find it unlikely that anyone outside your immediate family, close friends or some close relative may agree to take on such a coaching assignment.

But yes, if you can find someone like that, you can make rapid progress in learning practical skills under the aegis of someone who already knows how the work is done.

This advice applies equally to litigation and law firm work.

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What is still the advantage of LawSikho then?

I know not more than 5-10% law students or lawyers will be able to find the kind of opportunities described above. The other option is to learn from trial and error over the years, which is anyway extremely painful and inconvenient. And naturally, expensive. Even if you are not paying with money upfront for that avenue, you are losing out on time and earning opportunity that is significant. 

The loss of opportunities cannot be ignored as you spend your time trying to learn things on your own, unsystematically, from a busy senior who has no effective plans to teach you the trade. It could take years and still you would find it extremely hard to do well.

I would rather spend a few thousands, or even lakhs if I have to, in order to learn well and learn fast, because I can then truly go after my destiny. After all, if you know how to do the work, there is no dearth of money in the legal profession.

And that is exactly why we are getting hundreds of students to join us every month. It is a choice between saving a bit of money and losing a lot of opportunities. It is a choice between systematic learning at a reasonable cost versus saving that money but losing lakhs in salaries and precious time during your youth. It is a choice between acing it at work and getting shouted at by overworked, impatient seniors who are very reluctant to spend time teaching you when they hardly get any time to sleep or spend with their family.

And we are not worried. Now or later, you will see the point I am making. And you will understand why LawSikho courses are worth every penny in investment.

If you think our courses are expensive, try learning the same thing in any other way, or just try out how it is to navigate the legal world without such essential knowledge. It would not take you long to realise what is cheaper.

Also, even if you learn about one area of practice from one lawyer, and get started, eventually one day you will need to venture into new areas of law. At that time, your time will be more valuable than your money. Even then, we will be around with a diverse range of ultra-useful super-practical courses that will come to your rescue.

That said, I truly wish you all the best. Each of you are capable of doing great things in your legal career, with or without our courses, even if you take a little longer. Never lose confidence in your future. The future is bright, it is full of hope, and full of amazing things that are coming your way. 

All the best!

Here are the courses in which you could enroll at the moment:

Diploma

Diploma in Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment Laws  

Diploma in Advanced Contract Drafting, Negotiation and Dispute Resolution 

Diploma in M&A, Institutional Finance and Investment Laws (PE and VC transactions) 

Diploma in Cyber Law, Fintech Regulations and Technology Contracts 

Diploma in Entrepreneurship Administration and Business Laws 

Diploma in Companies Act, Corporate Governance and SEBI Regulations 

Executive Certificate Courses

Certificate in Labour, Employment and Industrial Laws for HR Managers 

Certificate Course in Advanced Criminal Litigation & Trial Advocacy  

Certificate course in Companies Act 

Certificate course in Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 

Certificate Course in Advanced Corporate Taxation 

Certificate Course in Advanced Civil Litigation: Practice, Procedure and Drafting 

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