If you want to become a doctor, what will you rely on?
First of all, you will not qualify as a doctor until you have worked for thousands of hours in hospitals, attending to actual patients, assisting doctors saving lives, doing surgeries, trying to figure out what treatment may work against a virulent disease.
Then there is a lot of research happening on new medicines, new methods of treatment, and doctors who are developing new protocols are sharing them through peer reviewed journals. There are scientists who do not practice medicine but just dedicate their careers to coming up with new medicines or methodologies or treatment. There is a lot available for a doctor to keep learning and stay at the cutting edge of medical sciences.
And how is it for lawyers? Let’s take a look.
Law schools fail at giving basic legal education, forget continuous legal education
Compared to that, in case of a lawyer, the first point of failure is the law college (or law school, if you will) itself. Law colleges are mostly scammy places which in 5 years completely fail to produce a lawyer who can actually get any legal work done. Employers are expected to instead recruit these law graduates and train them on the job. Or the graduates are expected to join practice and figure out on their own how to do what.
All they know at the time of graduation are some case laws and sections from statutes in the name of legal education. For example, one may know all the sections of the Contract Act, but does that train them on how to draft a Shareholders Agreement? Law students are expected to read sections after sections of company law but even after they would not know how to draft even a board resolution or Articles of Association, or for that matter how to advice a company executive on related party transactions.
What would I teach law students in a company law course? Here are a few things to start with, as we do in our 50 classes, one year course targeted at teaching 100 practical skills.
Let me share a few:
- Learn how to comprehensively analyse different business structures and advise clients on which is the best structure for their businesses
- Learn how to draft the Memorandum and Articles of Association of a Company in stages where the company is going for an investment transaction / conversion / initial public offering
- Learn what are the pitfalls or redflags you should take care of while incorporating different types of companies, so to avoid delay and costs
- Learn how to advise a client on what is the best non profit structure for him and how to use a Section 8 company to the maximum advantage
- Learn how to start a company law practice and draft opinions
- Learn how to advise a foreign client on the incorporation of subsidiary company in India
- Learn how to advise the board of directors of large sized companies about installing corporate governance mechanisms in the company
- Learn how to efficiently manage the processes before, during and after a board meeting and be able to advise the management during the board meeting
- Learn how to advise the Chairman on managing the proceedings at Annual General Meetings and how to ensure minimal disruptions by shareholders
- Learn how to frame internal company policies and set up reporting and escalation mechanisms at group and individual entity levels including where the group is multinational
- Learn how to implement contract management and litigation management systems in a company which will help in minimising legal risk to a significant extent
- Learn how to develop induction processes for directors and advise them on their liabilities and responsibilities
- Learn how to draft CXO employment agreements including severance payments and clawback provisions
- Learn how to draft comprehensive employee stock option plans and letters of grant
- Learn how to handle and manage rights issues and private placements in unlisted entities
- Learn how to strategise, plan and carry out buybacks in unlisted entities
Do you think law schools should teach such skills? If yes, respond to this and let me know.
However, the vast majority of law teachers have no clue about such skills themselves! Which means they are in no position to teach real practical skills to the law students.
So they pretend to teach law students to think like lawyers. They claim that by reading some case laws and sections, the law students are learning to work as lawyers.
Oh yeah sure, you teach law students to think like a lawyer by making them do the tasks that lawyers today are expected to do, and not by making them read 300 judgments delivered by some judges half a century back! If you want a law student to learn to think like a lawyer, please give her the tasks that lawyers face day in and day out, and hand-hold her while she does those things! Give feedback on mistakes and encourage when they get it right.
That’s what we do at LawSikho and it works wonderfully well. If any teacher is interested in learning the method, do get in touch, we are happy to share our learnings.
Finally, most lawyers had quite a bad time in law college during their law degree. They had to mug up a lot, most of which was not at all useful when they graduated and looked for work. They had to struggle a lot to get even basic tasks done in the absence of any systematic training. Hence, they lost faith in legal education altogether and have no intention of engaging in any kind of continuous learning.
This means, they are left alone to figure out their training and development and most lawyers never manage to. The current situation is depressing to say the least.
The question is, how many lawyers who otherwise fail, would have done really well had they got the right kind of training and development opportunity? Do you have any answer to that?
The internship system for lawyers are near farcical
The lack of useful skills of law students could be remedied a bit through long term internships, like the doctors must work in hospitals and health centers as interns for a year or two before they can get their degree.
Lawyers however get no such exposure. In a few colleges, where classes are scarce or happen early in the morning or in the evening, students manage to attend long term internships under some lawyers. Evidently, these colleges have far better placement records and these students tend to do much better than the rest.
However, there are very few such colleges. Most colleges believe that their classes are infinitely important and try to make sure that students are tied up in classes morning to evening. After sitting in mind numbing useless classes these students are not left in any state to even do any useful self learning. Going to such colleges mean ruining your 5 years.
Most law students therefore get to go for one or maximum 2 internships that are just one month long. One month long internships are of no use, because just as one begins to get adjusted to a workplace, they have to leave. This means no meaningful learning is possible, and the seniors are not at all invested in teaching or involving a law student into any serious work when such person is going to stay in their office for no more than a month or 6 weeks.
Of course, the Bar Council could change this easily by requiring a 12 month or 24 month mandatory internship period, just like CA and CS professionals also have, but can we expect the BCI to do such a thoughtful thing? When has it done anything in the interest of the law students or the legal profession for the last time in history, can anyone remember?
Books do not address the real issues and publication industry is immature
It may seem strange but the publication industry in the legal world is also seriously skewed. They are interested in producing text books because those sell in volumes, catering to the already dysfunctional legal academia.
Then, the legal academia is seriously far removed from the practice, writing about things that have little consequence in real life practice. In any case, they have no idea what is happening in practice and their only goal behind producing any literature at all is to get some points in the UGC system so that they can get higher pay grade or at best get to travel to a foreign country for a conference on someone else’s dime.
There are of course some honourable exceptions, but most people will agree that India’s ability to produce legal literature is seriously lamentable.
Lawyers are busy creatures and do not have the time to put down their learnings and new developments into thoughtful lessons and practice notes suitable for publication. They simply do not have the time, and definitely not any incentive to do so. Many of them would prefer to monopolize the knowledge if that was possible.
Publishers are mute spectators in this scenario. They perhaps know that there is a great scope to create amazing training material and books that will go a long way and help young lawyers to build their career, but because there are no such manuscripts walking through their door, most of them do not take any extra initiative.
So we do not even have the right books that could help a budding lawyer to accelerate his career in litigation!
Yes, it is true that there are amazing opportunities in the legal publication sector, for those who are ready to put in the effort and capital, given the terrible inertia in that market at present. It is totally waiting to be disrupted.
So what do we do?
This is the backdrop of the rise of LawSikho. We work with lawyers who are at the cutting edge of practice to discover legal insights and processes, and build exactly the kind of literature, training process and templates you need to cut the process of learning by several years.
Imagine, it takes a law graduate years of toiling in a seniors chamber to learn enough to make a successful career in litigation. It is so hard because of all the reasons we discussed above. What if there was a solution that addressed this exact problem?
Oh yes, there is. That’s what we work on, all the time, for the last 8 years.
Would you like to benefit from our 8 years of work that can speed up your career in litigation and save years that would have gone into unsystematic, haphazard learning by trial and error?
We promise you, if it would otherwise take you 3 years to learn, we will ensure that in our LawSikho courses, provided you put in the time and effort, you learn those things in just a year. Imagine the rocket fuel this can add to your career. We are so confident that we have a 30-45 days refund policy.
Check out Litigation Library by LawSikho if you are a litigator, and your career will not be the same again. You can try it out risk free for a period of a month, and get a full refund if you do not like it. There are just a few seats left, and we are closing it by the end of this month, so hurry up if it is relevant to you.
Also, check out the courses that are closing for admission in the next few days:
Executive Certificate Courses