In this blog post, Anirudh Banga, a student at Amity Law University and pursuing a Diploma in Entrepreneurship Administration and Business Laws from NUJS, Kolkata, describes the process of transitioning from litigation to transactional work.
How to transition from litigation to transactional work
During Law School, by about third year (some even earlier) every law student goes through a phase where everybody starts expecting you to have a plan after Law School. This leads to one of the biggest dilemma’s any law student really faces in law school (apart from how important it is to attend that first class in the morning) litigation or transactional work. Everybody has their own take on how to go about making this decision,but mostly people are taking a shot in the air, and hoping it would hit the target. While many get attracted by the big money that is offered by the Corporate Law Firms and the Companies, some choose the hard life of a litigating lawyer, there are also the third kind, who go into litigation merely because they didn’t get a chance to intern or work at a corporate law firm and so naturally litigation is the only option out. In my personal experience I’ve seen a lot of people switching over from litigation practice to transactional work. Now it is necessary that for you to be successful you have to have a go at it, not until you get it right, but until you just can’t get it wrong anymore, this concept however, is a little distorted in litigation practice, because you see, litigation is not something which you can become good at, within a year, or two, or ten for that matter. They don’t just call litigation an old man’s mistress for no reason. It takes years and years of hard work, not having a social life, making work your one and only priority and life, to actually reach that level where you can stand out from the rest of the crowd, which is extremely essential since in India more than 10 lakh law students graduate every year and even then,if by a magic stroke of luck you somehow manage to excel at what you do it can still all be redundant, if you can’t convince your client that you actually know what you’re doing. Because of so many “if’s” in litigation a lot of people switch over to transactional advocacy,I believe the following factors come into play and should in fact, be given due importance before making such a decision.
The first step is for you to really just sit down and ask yourself, Why do you want to move into Transactional advocacy. Now for a lot of people the simple explanation to this question is money. At the end of the day, if in one situation A is getting paid 2 lakhs to work for 2 hours and in another B, 20k for working 2 hours, when both of them are doing more or less the same level of work, sooner or later the seeds of discontentment are planted and B starts thinking, why not do transactional work and earn more rather than toiling for 20-30 years merely on an assumption that I might be successful. Sadly, in today’s world success is measured by the amount of money you make, as opposed to how much of a difference you make. There can be multiple other reasons for shifting to transactional advocacy, but in my experience, I’ve found money to be one of the major ones. Whatever that reason is, be sure to think about it long and hard and make an informed decision. For a quick and hasty decision would not only have you be unhappy with when you’ve shifted to transactional work, but it would also affect your ability to perform, for it is a world recognized fact that if you’re not happy, no matter how intelligent you are, your work sooner or later gets hampered. Therefore, I believe before shifting, have a discussion with people who are already working as Transactional lawyers and understand the demands of the profession. A well-informed decision would not only have you prepared but you’ll also be ready to deal with all the curve balls that the profession would throw at you, because you were prepared for it, from the very beginning. Be aware that the grass always seems greener on the other side. And do not at any time underestimate the amount of hard work that is required in Transactional Advocacy.
Dealing with becoming a Transactional Lawyer
Now that you’ve finally assessed your pro’s and con’s and decided that you want to become a Transactional Lawyer, I have a good news for you, you’re better off at dealing the contractual requirements and understanding than those lawyers who’ve never had experience of working in litigation. This might seem as a very biased opinion, but it is true. You see as a bane said in BATMAN: the Dark Knight rise, “you simply embraced darkness, I was born into it, molded by it”. As a litigation lawyer, you’ve played the game of “catch up and run as fast as you can”, transactional advocacy, certainly involves time constraints, but the same can be handled by you because you’ve been dealing with this all the while you were in litigation. You are well aware of how to manage your time to complete ten filings in a day and still be able to show up for that hearing in the High Court or any other court for that matter. Further, the point of every contract is to make sure, it doesn’t lead to litigation and to make it so watertight, that even if litigation results from it, the chances of success of your client are extremely high. This is also a cup of tea for you since you’ve already experienced the kind of things that may take you into litigation, you know how the court’s interpret provisions, you have a deeper understanding of the subject even before you’ve started. I am not saying this completely makes it a child’s play to draft contracts and understand them, but to a reasonable extent, i.e. if you were paying attention when you were litigating, you understand the various factors which come into play when a contractual dispute goes into litigation and/ or arbitration and you know exactly how to protect your client against them. This not only puts you one step ahead of the crowd but also allows you to be a focal point in the project, where everyone looks to you for advice, no matter how less of an experience you have as a transactional lawyer. One of the major advantages of this is while most of Transactional Lawyers struggle to carve an identity in a big firm or a company, you are now the go-to guy, for whoever wants to fill in the loopholes that only a lawyer who has had litigation experience, can spot. Another aspect which also works in favour of a litigation lawyer who’s shifted to transactional advocacy is that fact that they are better at handling client queries and solving complicated doubts, which the clients have. As a litigation lawyer, one of the first things you learn is to treat the judge as an idiot and to thereafter explain things in such a detailed as well as concise manner that it almost makes the judge laugh at his own inability to spot it all along. While the judges of the High Court and the Supreme Court are extremely demanding and all the queries need to be handled on the go, Transactional Advocacy gives you that comfort zone of not answering every query on the go. Where if any client asks you any question or doubt they might have about any aspect of the transaction, while you can’t afford to slack in quality of your answer, there is less of a time constraint on you and you can think over it and then give an answer comfortably after analyzing all factors. The same is not possible in litigation, as the judge has to handle hundreds of matters in a day, he can’t humanly go into each and very topic in detail, and therefore the power to do the same rests with you. Now since you’re so experienced, with handling queries on the go, it seems a piece of cake to handle client queries.One of the negative points which I’ve heard from a lot of people is the fact that they miss the thrill of arguing a case in court, which is definitely missing as a Transactional Lawyer. Although every field has its list of ups and downs, the same should be taken in stride and moved on with.
I would like to conclude by saying that no field in itself is easy, it is also not insurmountable, depends completely on your interest and how much you’re willing to sacrifice and how much hard work you put into it. One thing is for sure if you’re willing to commit your full dedication into any field, you’re sure to be successful. Although there is a major advantage that one has in this transactional advocacy if they’ve shifted from a litigation practice.