This article is written by Ramanuj Mukherjee, CEO, iPleaders
I was sitting in a small conference room. A senior associate was sitting across, intently listening to the myriad voices on the phone. We are in the middle of a due diligence and getting some clarifications from the target company.
We were getting to know more about their corporate governance. My senior had flagged a few important things that I missed so now we had to have this urgently scheduled call. The other side was not very pleased. I just had an earful from him for missing things I obviously should not have missed.
I could hardly focus on the call. What am I supposed to do? The whole transaction was going at a real fast pace. The seniors had little time to explain their own instructions, forget teaching me stuff. I was getting the feeling that I am really dumb and have chosen the wrong profession.
When I joined this firm, I was a very confident person. However, with more time passing I was now beginning to feel that I am not very smart.
One of the things I still remember after many years is how helpless I felt, sitting in that dimly lit conference room where 3 of us could barely fit in. I wanted to open the door, run out of the office, run away from the whole city. I didn’t know where to go.
Let me begin from the beginning.
I had heard company law is a very important thing to learn. I heard that knowledge of company law is must if you want to be a corporate lawyer of any sort, and even if you want to do corporate litigation.
I wanted to be an awesome corporate lawyer. So I tried to read up the Companies Act, 2013. If you are a lawyer or CS or CA you must be knowing that it is a huge tome and really thick language which is difficult to understand.
I still sat down and went through the sections. Some made sense to me and some didn’t. I got a decent score in company law in law school. I knew I didn’t really have a grasp on company law. I prayed that what I know is enough and that I will manage when I face real life work.
Internships were not that hard to be honest. But they just hadn’t prepared me for what I will face when I was in the law firm.
I just could not write even a research note that my senior will find acceptable.
It was a pressure cooker environment. People routinely shouted at their juniors. It is apparently normal in corporate law firms. I saw people being fired left, right and center too for non performance.
I figured they will give me some opportunities to catch up. They did.
However, the initial few months were really difficult. I had to learn things on the go, as I also had to deliver work. It was crazy.
Let me share with you why it is very important to be very well prepared before you join your first job. Or a job in a big law firm or a company.
Nobody has time to teach you. You will be extremely, extremely lucky to find a boss who will even take out 15 minutes in a day to teach you. Why will they? If they can find some extra time, they also want to get out of the office and spend with their family or pursuing something more fun.
So, how are you going to learn?
Most people learn by trial and error.
Let’s be honest. You probably don’t even know what you need to learn in the first place.
On top of this, getting started is very difficult to. Where do you begin? What is the right material to study?
I often spent hours studying the wrong things. Even if I was reading the right material, sometimes I didn’t get the right understanding because I did not get the context.
I did not get the right guidance.
Another important factor is feedback on the work done. Did I do a good job? I was always confused about the feedback I got. What was I doing wrong? How do I get better? I didn’t see a clear forward path.
Then comes the tremendous work pressure. For several months, I was easily working 14 hours a day. I spent many weekends in the office. I didn’t mind that, but the problem was that I was spending a lot of extra time redoing the work I didn’t get correct on the first shot.
The firm had a knowledge management system and even training. But what they taught didn’t help me. I got more information, but I wasn’t getting better at my work.
I remember that experience. I remember how hard I had to work, and the fear and ignominy of not doing a good job.
I am a proud person. I was always a good student. I always succeed. I had tough time adjusting to the law firm environment because I was really off balance, because I was unprepared.
What would I have to do to be well prepared for a job at a big law firm? Or a in-house legal team in a big company for that matter? What would I not give to be well prepared so that my life would have been easier when I actually began working at a law firm?
I soon realised that this was not my problem alone. Almost all juniors go through this painful phase. Not only at big law firms, but even in companies and law chambers.
So when we were building online courses, I focused on this pain point. This was worth addressing.
I strongly believe that we can train law students and young lawyers so that they never face these problems. Back in 2012, we started training law students to be better lawyers. We focussed on training them practical skills that will help them to stand out in a workplace, as interns or as lawyers.
Today law firms and in-house legal teams hire us to train their junior lawyers better.
We have come a long way. We are now really good at training law student and young lawyers.
I really want to tell you that story, and how it happened, but not today. That’s another story.
Today I want to leave you with a question: what career do you want to pursue? What skills should you develop? Getting the job is only the first step. You want to dominate your work, not get dominated by it. Are you learning the things you need to learn to get there? How will you climb the stairs of success?
Most people do not think of these things.
Please take out 5 minutes and write down your answers, and post as reply to this. I read every comment.
I will tell you our secret: how we became the most successful legal education platform in India! Our competitors charge less, and still we get more students. We never raised any capital, but still we grow faster than others. And why law firms and lawyers are very happy to hire our graduates just based on our recommendation!
Don’t forget to write down about your career plan: if you get the dream job you want, what can you do now to prepare for the job. How will you ensure you do really well when you get it?
If you really deserve it, you will probably get it. What can you do to totally, totally deserve it?
In the meantime, if you want to get started with learning company law without more ado, check out this course.