This article is written by Ramanuj Mukherjee, CEO, LawSikho.
My grandfather had job security. He worked for Martin’s Light Railway, British era railway company, as a ticket checker. But then it shut down operations in 1973 at the height of nationalization spree.
For a time, he did not have that job security as he was laid off, but then eventually Indian railway absorbed him.
Nationalization meant that was supposed to happen anyway. But it did not happen for a while as the old company shut operations but Indian Railway was slow in its absorption.
It was a panic situation in a household with 5 children for a year or so. What were they going to do? My grandfather used to tell me the story about it when I was a little kid.
So my father, his brothers as well as sisters were taught that only government jobs have job security and nothing else is safe.
At the time, the Indian economy was troubled. There were successive wars on our border, many global and geopolitical crisis all around us, cold war raging in the west, assassination of our Prime Minister, factories shutting down all around in our country, balance of payment crisis, government being blamed for not giving jobs to educated young men, uncontrolled inflation, sluggish economy – the world didn’t look as pretty as it does today. 80s was tough.
Job security was the thing that everyone aspired for. Survival was at stake. All people wanted was a life of dignity where you can give square meals to your children, a pair of new clothes every year for the kids at least, if not everyone, was all the luxury one could dream of.
Even I have experienced the fag end of this phase in the first few years of my life. I have memories from early childhood when I discovered that tube lights were a thing and asking my mother why we don’t have these in our house. And a phase when we could not afford electricity in the insane inflationary times of 1991. That was the rock bottom.
The turning point. When India was forced to liberalise its economy. Manmohan Singh went with suitcases full of Gold to get money from IMF and agreed to become a signatory to WTO because we didn’t have foreign currency reserves for more than a week.
We have come a long way.
The last two decades were of unprecedented growth and prosperity.
Job security is the thing of the past. Young professionals now change jobs as often as they upgrade to the next model of smartphone.
Our parents struggled for survival. We fight a different battle.
We are worried – shall we amount to anything? Would our lives mean something? Would our careers become something we can be proud of?
And of course, whether our vacation pictures will rock Instagram.
Job security is not relevant today. Not only because we live in a more secure economy than that of the 1990s or 80s, but because businesses also rise and fall much faster. Government jobs are a very small percentage of the entire job market. Large companies rise and fall.
Even Reliance, an iconic brand we Indians usually thought as infallible, filed for bankruptcy last week. A large number of major companies in India are currently in the dock for insolvency and bankruptcy.
People are losing jobs in great numbers. But jobs are created elsewhere in the economy too. One has to be agile, informed and prepared for changes in macroeconomic trends so that they are not caught off guard.
Many want to work for startups, where job security is a cruel joke. Nobody knows how long the job or the company may last, although it may still be well paid and even prestigious, may last.
Startup employees are even demanding shares in the company and ready to take reduced compensation as long as they get compensated through equity. They also want to be a part of the growth story.
What a change in attitude! This is the biggest mark of confidence of the new generation of Indian professionals.
What is the secret to this confidence?
We have transitioned from job security to income security. It’s an amazing thing, and we must keep it in mind and embrace it fully.
Our careers are no more about job security, that no matter what I will have a job so that I can survive.
Our careers are now all about how can we grow fast. And we have income security, so we are ready to shift jobs, take risks with our career and even try out completely new, adventurous professions which perhaps give us more fulfillment, sense of purpose and opportunities to grow.
However, income security is something that we cannot take for granted. It is something to cultivate. We must develop high demand skills that will hold us in good stead in all kind of economic cycles and would have long term demand.
Don’t invest in fads. Invest your time, money and energy in long term, high demand, evergreen skills because that is what would give you income security.
Most lawyers do not have any income security because they do not have sufficient marketable skills. Or because they completely fail to demonstrate those skills to employers and potential clients. Both are very problematic situations.
What would have long term demand and income security in the legal profession? Let’s take a quick look.
Being able to draft and negotiate good contracts will never go out of fashion.
Amazing legal research skills will always come handy no matter what a lawyer does.
Knowledge of how investment deals, M&A deals and major finance deals work and the skills to structure such deals, perform due diligence, draft and negotiate contracts and do all the compliances related to such deals.
Business law skills that can help you to shepherd a business from inception to different stages of growths, and help startups to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Insolvency and bankruptcy related work – companies will always fail, restructure and shut down.
Arbitration, the new favourite method of dispute resolution that is rapidly growing and will still grow at least 100 times bigger in the decades to come!
Fintech regulations – the rules for the industry that is changing the world of finance faster than ever and have massive cascading effects on entire economies.
Labour and employment law, which is only growing in importance, prominence and complexity as more and more of the workforce shifts from informal to formal economy and people become more aware of their workplace rights.
Corporate tax. The tussle between the government and the biggest taxpayers in the country will never go stale, never go out of fashion, and never stop needed the most talented and clever lawyers.
There are many more. I could go on. But you may have already heard that law is a recession proof profession.
It is. It is an all weather profession. Provided you have the skills to deliver the results to your clients and the track record.
We can help you with both. Do check out our upcoming courses:
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