The secret to a great relationship starts with letter ‘V’

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This article is written by Suman Chatterjee, Team LawSikho.

After finishing up with yesterday’s email, all exhausted and unloaded, I ended up watching a movie that I have already watched multiple times before.

Mr and Mrs Smith. Brangelina at their best! 

Apart from being an awesomely attractive pair, they possess this raw charisma that made a thinly plotted, over-actionated and almost ludicrous storyline glamorous.

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For this email though, I will focus on a particular bullet-heavy scene where the Smiths survives a treacherous attack and fight off a band of assassins all while bickering over their fighting styles and discovering new personal secrets about each other. (I am not going to tell the whole story here. Go watch the movie if you will.)

What struck me was the dynamic between the two individuals. How they were coordinating with one another. How they complemented one another. How they acted towards a common goal seamlessly and in tandem with one another. 

Suddenly, I saw the essential ingredient that goes into making any relationship successful and almost memorable—it starts with the letter ‘V’.

Can you guess already?

No? 

Well… the secret word to every great relationship is:

V-A-L-U-E

Would it be as attractive if one of them were just a bystander while the other was sweating and huffing from the couch to the stairs through a flurry of fiery bullets flying at him or her? Nope.

Would it be as appealing if one were to come up all the crazy ideas while another would be looking dumbfounded, like a deer in front of headlights? Nope.

Would it be such an ‘epic’ if there was ZERO coordination between the individuals and both would topple over one another, every fight scene after another? Nope.

If you ask my opinion, the beauty of this film is how two individuals bringing something to the table and how they were making “shit” happen together. It was like a symphony. 

Trust me, it does not matter whether you are a man or a woman, the ultimate deciding factor of whether a relationship is going to last the end of times is whether the parties are offering equal value to each other (or in the relationship). 

If two persons decide to invest their resources, physical, mental or spiritual, into a relationship, there is no way that relationship is going to go wrong ever. 

To make a relationship work, always remember to give, give and give

Only then you can expect something in return.

Hold on! Why am I talking about relationships all of a sudden?

Because every budding lawyer enters into a relationship too…

Whether you are a budding lawyer looking for an internship opportunity or a junior to a senior litigation lawyer or a legal professional for a mid-life career shift…

You have to understand that you are essentially entering into a professional relationship with either your senior who’s mentoring you or the law firm or the company that’s hiring you on its payroll. 

The keyword here is ‘relationship’. 

And this is exactly where most of us, lawyers, go wrong. We don’t look at it as a relationship. As a result, we start to feel like it’s an obligation on part of the organization or the individual practitioner to take us under their wing and train us, and on top of that, PAY US too!

The problem is that we take them for granted. A BIG mistake!

In Adam Grant’s book, Give and Take, he talks about the three different types of personalities: givers, takers and matchers. 

Givers give more than they take. They are focused on how they can satisfy other people’s needs. 

Takers take more than they give. They are focused on how their own needs can be satisfied.

Matchers believe in the ‘tit for tat’ philosophy and aim for an even exchange.

Now Adam goes on to say how givers, when they are strategic about their giving, can end up more successful than the takers and the matchers. 

What I am trying to say is, the first question you should ask yourself, as a law student, practicing advocate or a corporate legal professional, is how you are going to offer value to the opposite party. Remember that they are taking you in under them—or entering into a professional relationship with you—because they expect some value from your end. 

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Instead of acting as a taker and thinking about what how much stipend you are going to receive or whether you will finally get the promotion or not, why not start by asking yourself, “How can I add value to them?”

However, the most common answer to this question is by adding more and more skills to your legal arsenal. The more skills you possess, the more valuable you will be to the person or entity you are entering into a relationship into.

What legal skills can help you score full points in your professional career?

To be honest, legal positions vary greatly in scope. One thing is for certain, you would need to put in your 100 per cent and then some more, physically and mentally, to survive in this demanding profession.

Also, don’t be like every other lawyer and treat your clients as if they are bags of money ready to be picked up on the street. Empathize with their problems, figure out the best-case and worst-case scenarios, and prepare the most optimum solution for them.

Having said that, there are a few legal skills that are common for almost all kinds of lawyers. They are as follows:

Great communication skills: If you can’t speak or write well, this profession will not suit you in the long run. The ability to speak clearly, concisely and persuasively, or drafting structured and convincing arguments is the hallmark of a great lawyer. 

Whether it is preparing a memorandum or a resolution, or presenting a case before NCLT, you need to know how to communicate like a pro.

Legal research: As a junior or a new associate, the bulk of your work might involve conducting research on case laws, judicial decisions, statutes, regulations and notifications. 

You must be able to use legal research software, be adept in statutory interpretation and also reasonably good at legal citation. Understanding legal concepts, especially around controversial sections and articles, is of utmost importance too.

Client handling: A senior partner of a tier-II law firm once told me during a job interview that client handling and service is an art and that’s the most vital part of a job as a lawyer, especially if you are flying solo or joining a law firm. 

Rainmaking and customer development is held in high regard in this client-focused legal industry. 

So, how much would you rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 on this? 

Time management: The legal business runs on the billable hour basis. It means, productivity equals to financial gain. As a lawyer, you would have to juggle competing urgencies, have an unbreakable work ethic and be a multi-tasking superstar. The more you work in the minimum time possible, the higher your billable hour rate will be. 

In case, you are thinking this applies only to the junior level, you are wrong. The work responsibilities and thus, work pressure increases immensely as you rise up the ladder. Perhaps, it is a bit relaxed in the corporate legal world but at times, even the corporate world can demand crazy deadlines and late working hours. 

Teamwork: Being super social and able to work with different people is perhaps the most underrated legal skill amongst all. Starting from the clerk to the partners to the peshkars, you have to be equally proficient in dealing and collaborating with everyone around you. 

Building a good working relationship and getting your work done requires tact. You might have won a gold medal at your university but if you can’t work with others, you have no role to play in the legal profession.

Good knowledge of law and legal procedure: Last but not least, you are a lawyer and you might even joke with your buddies how you passed the Jurisprudence exam without even buying a textbook for the same. 

But when you enter the profession—if you are an experienced one, you probably know this—you need to have a deep understanding of substantive law. You need to be well versed in the legal procedures. How can section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act be invoked? What’s the first step to filing an insolvency petition? How to tie and attach the back page of an execution application? 

You need to know all this stuff! Why? Because the judge or your boss will most likely be in a sour mood and you will be the one facing him. Oops!

The only way to advance in your career and make it large (yo, McDowells No. 1!) is to keep upskilling yourself and make yourself valuable.

Talking of upskilling and adding value, we at LawSikho do this only. We post articles. We hold webinars. We counsel students and professionals. Everything we do is to help you get what you want—whether it is an internship or get a promotion or start a business.

Through our 45+ courses spanning over every important area of practice consisting of non-stop high quality content, we serve one crore readers through our blog per year, and over 200 new LawSikho students join the rank of thousands of existing students every month.

But it all starts by asking what you want. Confused?

NEED HELP? Talk to our experts by calling at 011 4084 5203 or comment with “Hi, I need help with my career.” below to this article. 

Will be waiting to hear from you.

To your success.

P. S. LawSikho is running hour-long webinars every day. Want to learn how to improve your learning skills? Prepare an LLM application to a foreign university? Career opportunities in new, upcoming areas of law? Don’t miss these high-quality webinars with industry and academic experts. Join our WhatsApp group to get instant updates on your phone.

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