This is a very frequently asked question. And the answer is yes.
Your grades are relevant at best when you are applying for your first job. If you are being asked the same in your 2nd and 3rd job, then you must be doing something terribly wrong. If it is relevant even after that, you must be living on another planet, not this one.
And of course, such questions would be asked by either a law student or a greenhorn lawyer with very little understanding of how the profession works.
I do not remember my grades. Neither do most other successful lawyers you will meet. Many of them had flunked a year or a few papers back in college. There are sitting judges in High Courts who have told me how they bumbled through college. There are partners in big law firms who were at the bottom of their batches.
As you begin your practice, clients, and therefore employers, judge you by the work you have been doing and the results you have been producing for your clients.
It can be an additional bragging point if you went to Harvard, Cambridge or a top NLU, or if you were a gold medalist in your batch, just like you would be proud of having a handsome husband or a pretty wife, but no more relevant to your work and clients.
Even if you were a topper in your class, and you fail to deliver work in a law firm or fail to fit into the culture, they will discard you like a dirty napkin. Good grades will not do you any good after a year of joining a law firm or chamber practice or in-house legal team.
Damn, so am I wasting my time and energy putting too much emphasis and premium on my grades in college?
Yes, sir. Yes, madam. Please note that if you ever applied for a scholarship to study at a famous international law college, your grades may come in handy. It may kind of help when you are applying for the first job. Although, even for those purposes grade alone is not conclusive. After that at least, it’s all about your performance as a lawyer. Employers will test you, give you trial tasks, they will ask around about the quality of your work, and they will find out how good or bad you have been. Even if you manage to fool them and get the job, you cannot expect to last more than a few months if not less. You are going to be found out if you don’t have to skills.
Please, therefore, put learning skills that lawyers actually use in their work, rather than chasing grades. It never works out well unless you learn the skills.
People with horrendous grades will surpass you, and this routinely happens all the time in the profession, based on their skills and track record, unless you focus on learning valuable skills. Fix your priority accordingly.
So how do I get a good first job if I am not having good grades? What is I have horrendous grades?
Again, focus on learning skills. Then focus on demonstrating those skills in internship, ideally long term internships.
Repeatedly, we have taken in law students with horrendous grades, trained them in skills, helped them to polish their profiles otherwise, and then got them assessment internships that led to jobs. Our entire Dream Job Bootcamp runs on that philosophy and has been very successful.
But you really don’t have to do our course to just get a job. Let me share some success stories this time, of people other than our students. If you want success stories of our students, I keep sharing that every now and then anyway!
Here are some case studies for you.
Yazad did his BBA LLB from JGLS. He got a PPO from Wadia Ghandy based on his internship. In his own words, if Wadia came to recruit from his college, he won’t make the shortlist. How did he get an internship and then the PPO?
The secret lies in some internships he did with a mentor who was a family friend. He got important advice from him early on about how to impress law firm lawyers and learned litigation related drafting. When he went for his Wadia internship, he ensured that associates and the partner knew what work he did in previous internships.
This led to his being given more work than the usual proofreading and printing out documents! He was asked to try his hand at drafting written statements, reply to notices, amendment applications, and even simply preparing list of dates. And he presumes he must have done those things somewhat well, because then he was trusted with more work.
And this led to his bagging a PPO.
I keep saying that learning practical skills is critical. You don’t necessarily need to learn it from a course offered by us, a good alternative is to learn from a mentor who is ready to invest the time in you to teach important skills.
Subhro went to HNLU and his performance was at the bottom 10 per cent of the class in his first year. When he reached 5th year, he was bang in the middle of the batch as per CGPA. However, that does not assure a campus placement.
Subhro managed to get an internship at AZB using his exceptional networking skills. A junior connected him with a relative who worked at AZB, and he bagged an internship there. Later he got an interview call, thanks to more networking with an AZB associate, from Vishnu Jerome, a former AZB partner who had then set up Jerome Merchant + Partners. He cracked the interview where he was asked strategic questions.
Now he has left law and got into strategy consulting.
Subhro does not think it was his practical skills that helped, but he spoke well and had won moots. His strategic inputs were good during the interview, which led to his selection. He also got a job offer next year from Trilegal and then IndusLaw fairly easily.
Even if you do not have practical knowledge when you are graduating, if you have the right connections and good relationships, that could come to your rescue. However, you need to have some redeeming qualities that help you to make the cut.
What are you doing to stand out?
I highly recommend acquiring practical legal knowledge and actual legal work that associates do in a law firm. That is the best way to ensure you do not miss getting the dream jobs you want.
Here are some courses which can help you to achieve your dream legal career, whether you are a law student or a young lawyer struggling to start the career journey of your dreams:
EXECUTIVE CERTIFICATE COURSES
Students of Lawsikho courses regularly produce writing assignments and work on practical exercises as a part of their coursework and develop themselves in real-life practical skill.
LawSikho has created a telegram group for exchanging legal knowledge, referrals and various opportunities. You can click on this link and join: