This article is written by Mohona Thakur, Marketing Manager at iPleaders.
Over the weekend, I have been reflecting on the past two months or so since I was rammed into by a bike while walking to office. I had, in January, shifted to Goa after having left a job at a litigation law firm in Delhi (that went ahead and featured on Vahura’s Best Law Firm Rankings this year). I was only wondering, what would have been the possibilities during the recovery period of the LCL tear on my right knee in case I was still working at the courts.
I came up with two options. I would have probably had to take three-to-four months off possibly without pay or quit the law firm. In addition, bear all medical costs since my medical insurance lapsed. This got me thinking, there are so many considerations that we lawyers and law students have to keep in mind while choosing a job. And quitting a job, but we’ll get to that later.
Let us look at the statistics. I did a simple google keyword search that read as “recruitment stats NLSIU Bangalore 2018” and this is what I found:
I believe the recruitment statistics for arguably the top most law school in India is self explanatory and I needn’t say more. You will find similar search results for other law schools. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself.
Looking at these numbers, I did some quick research, sent out the word on LinkedIn and found some interesting opinions on why law students prefer working with law firms over pursuing a career in litigation.
Here are five reasons and varying perceptions as to why law students prefer jobs with law firms over pursuing litigation:
The Money is Good
What would you choose? A job that pays better or a job that pays less?
The numbers are always one of the major deciding factor, if given a choice. The mass recruiters or the Big 6 that the top law firms in India are often referred as pay in six to seven digit figures annually, to their freshers. These numbers keep changing, but the digits remain the same. You can give this article, which discusses the Top 10 Law Firms That Pay The Highest Salary In India, a read to get a clearer idea of the pay-scale and work at the top 10 law firms in India.
Naturally, when law students as well as lawyers see the immediate benefit that you derive in terms of money and the financial stability that it come with, they start looking out for opportunities that pay them. However, this is only one aspect.
Let us look at the fee structure at law schools. For instance, the five year B.A. LL.B at NLSIU Bangalore costs over 2 Lakh Rupees annually which would mean over 10 Lakh Rupees spent in 5 years of education. Similarly, Symbiosis Law School at Pune charges 2 Lakh 85 Thousand as fee in the first year. You can do the rest of the math, I’m sure. There are two ways of looking at this; one is that the job that you land must make up for the time and money that is spent towards legal education – five years and ten to fifteen lakhs spent on education is not a joke. And the second in all probability is to pay off student loans.
Majority law students end up deciding to give a shot at Harvey Specter over Alan Shore, looking at the money.
Law Firms Set a Better Platform
Nivedita Tayade, Senior Attorney at Mindcrest had a very interesting take on why law students may choose law firms. “A job on the hand is more like “you know what you want” kind of a situation. The firm is already at par and practicing in areas that you develop an interest in or are interested in. It’s a set platform for you where one just has to excel.”
Of course, law firms are often segregated into various teams such as IPR, M&A and PE, General Corporate, Real Estate, Infrastructure, Baking & Finance, Technology Media and Telecom, and not to forget Litigation. As rightly pointed out by Aman Parekh, Associate at India Law Alliance, “There are law firms who do litigation too; there is often a misconception amongst students that law firms only deal with corporate and company laws.”
The very fact that these law firms have been in existence for a while give you a set platform to indulge in and excel. In addition, the job that one partakes at a law firm may give them a better platform to move on to another law firm. It isn’t new to be using law firm experience to move on to another law firm or even in-house. So, it’s not just a platform where one can perform and excel, but also from where one can move on to better opportunities.
Devashish Jagirdar, a practising lawyer at the Bombay High Court, in response to my query on LinkedIn replied saying the exact same thing, “If your aim is to go independent eventually, or open your law firm for that matter, working with a law firm gives you contacts, and gives you the experience needed of how to be a counsel and what to expect from your attorney.”
Vast Exposure In Terms of Clientele
Both Devashish Jagirdar and Narendran Thyagarajan, practising advocates, admit that working with law firms gives you a bigger playground in terms of clientele. It is a common notion amongst students in law school that law firms have abundant clients, plethora of matters, hence humongous experience and never-ending learning.
This holds a hundred percent true. Law firms gain their business from companies. Whether it’s an acquisition, a legal opinion, or litigation, companies do require support from outside counsels. And they believe in going with firms as compared to individuals simply because they have more man-power, and relevant experience. Unlike in-house legal jobs where your business is your client, law firms deal with multiple clients daily and this gives them exposure in abundance. That exposure isn’t just limited to the number of clientele, but also to the quantity of work that comes in.
By the looks of it, it seems to be a win-win situation for a law student to be working with law firms as they have abundant work and clientele. However, in order to ace your way through law firms that have major corporate clients, you may want to stay ahead of your own game and take up a course on business laws.
This Job is Steady
Like I’d previously mentioned that with money comes in stability, working with law firms also ensure that the job is steady, the money keeps coming in every month and there is a balance. Litigation, more often than not, is not a steady job. One may see themselves running around the corridors of the court minutes before their matter is about to be called out looking for a case law that was asked last minute. And god forbid if you have to be in two different courts at the same time, yes that’s possible.
A lot of people call litigation thrilling as every day at work is a new day, with new possibilities and well, new lessons to learn. It is anything but steady and if you’re not satisfied, you’d be hopping from one advocate or firm to another. And this is exactly why, on a rather lighter note, Narendran Thyagarajan says working with law firms may bring you better marriage prospects than litigation, because not many understand what it is or what it takes to survive there.
Interest Driven Choice
A lot of law students choose to work with law firms purely because their interest lies in the kind of work that the law firms have to offer. For example, a batchmate of mine chose to work for Desai and Diwanji in Bombay right after law school because he always wanted to work on the commercial side of laws. You can watch the webcast where he spoke about the challenges faced by a corporate lawyer here.
There are very many students who end up choosing to work with law firms because they are driven by their passion or interest in business laws, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property laws, corporate laws, real estate laws, and the likes. And these students are in abundance. Not only do they need to genuinely develop their interest but also show enough skills to be able to ultimately make it to law firms. In fact, anyone who wishes to work for law firms needs to be at the top of their game. You can check out courses at lawsikho.com that prepare you for it, in case you’re interested in that law firm job!
The reasons to why law students do choose law firms over litigation can be perceived in many ways and is multi-faceted. There can be multiple reasons, combinations of reasons why law firms are the top choice. We’ve tried to cover the major reasons here, but do drop by your point of views in the comment section, it would be much-appreciated.