The author is Sadia Khan of AMSS.
The article was curated for Samvaad by Simran Kaur, a student at third year, HNLU.
The article was very gratefully shared with Lawctopus by Nilanjana Bhattacharjee, the brain and hands behind Samvaad.
A law firm looks forward to working with and training youngsters to be lawyers who are interested in learning the process of law and would be able to nurture the best of their abilities in the initial few years. It is an increasing trend for various leading law firms to adopt internal recruitment policies for recruitment purposes.
For instance, Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co. (New Delhi) has a dedicated Human Resource Department engaged in conducting our recruitments.
Recruitment for graduates from law school takes place either through (a) Campus Placements, or (b) Pre-Placement Offers.
Pre-Placement Offers are generally offered to students who are interning or have interned in law firms. This is an opportunity that is increasingly utilized by students from different law schools, wherein students intern in law firms of their preferences and perform for at least four weeks, and in some cases beyond four weeks to be eligible for offers for interviews.
During the process of internship, the over all work performance is taken into consideration by the recruiting law firm to consider the eligibility and merit of the internee. The law firm also considers aspects like quality of work, ability to co-ordinate, team spirit, punctuality, and diligence.
In AMSS, interns who have interned for four weeks or more, if found eligible as per the recruitment policy, are asked to appear for interviews and subsequently offered placements. In some cases, interns are asked to intern for another four weeks, prior to such offer for interview.
1. Academic Performance
Grade points obtained, rank held in the class, subjects studied and marks obtained in such subjects. For instance, if a prospective candidate in the interview is required to be recruited as an associate/retainer for M&A, scores in corporate laws, contracts, transfer or property act, etc. would be taken into account.
2. Internships Done
Internships are the gateway for a law student to move beyond theoretical knowledge and obtain practical insight into the subject matter. A recruiter derives a lot of information about the potential of a prospective candidate from the internships done by the student and the kind of work dealt with during the period of such internship. In fact, mostly questions in technical interviews are based on the work description provided during internships.
Publications on legal issues/topics in reputed journals like AIR, SCC, All India High Court Cases, international journals, are major value addition to the curriculum vitae of a student. It stands as testimony of the drafting skills of the prospective candidate.
4. Moot Court Competitions
Participation and performance in moot court competitions at national and international level also play a major role in determining the suitability of the candidate appearing for interviews. They reflect immensely upon the personality and communication skills of the prospective student.
5. Long term objectives
A law firm believes that it contributes immensely in shaping a lawyer and would be keener on recruiting people who have steady plans of sticking to the law firm in the long run. This in a way evidences the commitment of the prospective students and also gives an insight as to the expectancies of the prospective candidate vis-à-vis the law firm in the long run.
Inter personal skills are a determining factor in recruitments. Recruiters would generally assess the personality of the prospective candidate on parameters like dedication, hard work, adaptability, diligence, ability to acquire skills, training needs, hard work and honesty.
For instance, in AMSS, the prospective candidate is required to fill in questionnaire that contains questions relating to personal attributes of the student. They are also subjected to psychometric test.
The recruiter expects honesty and humility in a fresher. It is not expected that the fresher is aware about the various intricacies of law. However, the fresher has to be aware of current legal developments in his/her area of interest, and should have strong knowledge of basic law.
Further, interview acts as the best way to project one’s own personal strengths and weaknesses and the same is of immense importance. There are two facets in an interview – (a) technical interview which tests the technical skills and (b) personal interview which tests the overall suitability of the prospective candidate for the law firm.
The Recruitment Process at Amarchand
AMSS follows a 6 stage extensive recruitment process at the entry level “Associates”. The sourcing is typically from the top 10 law colleges of the country. Each candidate has to undergo the following rounds for finally getting selected in the Firm:
Recruitment Questionnaire, which brings out the profile and aspirations of the applicant;
Psychometric Test which helps in identifying the level of skill on competencies (pre defined for each level);
Problem Query (based on preferred practice area – to assess the business writing skills, research skills and articulation of the candidate);
Group Discussions on current issues to assess the communication skills, thought process and responsiveness of the candidate;
Technical Interview to assess the technical skills, general knowledge of law and culture fit to the Firm;
Final Round of Interview with the senior Management of the firm which decides the final list of recruits.
Every candidate is reviewed by approximately four to five Panelists comprising of in-house Partners or Senior lawyers and are selected as per group consensus.
The process is meticulously followed to critically assess the research capabilities, business writing skills, knowledge of preferred practice area, communication skills, overall personality, attitude and cultural fit with the Firm.
1. Lack of basic knowledge on legal concepts
Every aspirant of working at leading law firms of the country needs to necessarily possess the knowledge of basic legal concepts. Lack of it affects the legal analytical abilities that a lawyer should possess.
For instance, M&A practice needs a basic grounding of the provisions as contained in the Companies Act, 1956 and allied laws like SEBI laws, Foreign Exchange laws. These subjects should be given importance in the curriculum of the law schools in order to equip their students efficiently.
It is our observation that students are unaware of the basic concepts like differences between shares and stocks, equity and debt, and so on and so forth. This is not to suggest that the prospective applicant needs to be well versed with the nuances involved in actual practice.
Nonetheless, it is reasonably expected that the prospective candidate is aware of the basic concepts and is well-read. Similarly, most of the prospective candidates who are taken for litigation practice are unaware of the procedural and substantive laws as contained in CrPC, CPC, and Law of Evidences.
2. Current Legal Updates
Very rarely we have noticed that a prospective student is cognizant about the recent legal developments occurring in the subject matter. This is a major block for recruiters because it is expected out of the applicant to be able to be appraised and aware of current legal developments.
There are indeed a large number of blog spots that constantly provide updates in various legal developments and students are expected to religiously follow them.
3. Analytical Skills
Often students bear a simple theoretical approach towards reading of law, however, as a lawyer, it is desired to have a broad vision and heightened analytical skill with logical clarity.
This would require that a piece of law is not read in isolation. It is supposed to be read in conjunct with other applicable laws upon the matter at hand and consideration. This is the key to proper legal analysis. However, prospective candidates often lack this analytical ability and logical clarity in dealing with issues provided to them. This needs to be taken care of.
4. Research skills
The research skills are tool to acquiring a fair view upon a given issue. We have noticed that students are complacent with their research skills.
A wholesome research would include researching the law (historical, current and future scenario), case law research, articles, commentary research, and also debates and issues highlighted concerning the same. However, students often do not take research seriously. It is expected that the fresher should be able to research diligently and not miss out on relevant details.
5. Drafting skills
Drafting skills need to be enhanced. A draft of a legal document should be simple, clear and logical apart from being in accordance with law. Considering that many candidates do not have any prior drafting skill, it is merely desired that such candidates are able to churn out a basic draft with all requisite details. Observation should play a major role in the same.
Needless to say the competition to secure a place in our firm is fierce and only the best who shares the vision of our firm and willing to invest what it takes to maintain high standards of legal work and scale new heights will find a place.
Samvaad is a small time enterprise run by legal amateurs, an endeavour to keep learning from people who have been achievers in one way or the other. We wish to create a repository of experiences by people from which other people will be able to learn and grow and keep the spirit of curiosity alive and kicking.