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I was talking to the managing partner of one of the top law firms yesterday. They have over 200 lawyers according to LinkedIn, across 4 offices.
#lawyers #lawfirm #lawstudents #lawsikho
I was interviewing him for my book on 30 law firms that were started by lawyers under the age of 30 and made its mark.

I will not name him today, wait for the book.

I asked him what has been his strategy to attract top talent.
Internship programs, he said. They prefer when they can hire lawyers at the entry-level from their internship program. Long term interns preferred.

They do go to campus recruitment increasingly, but results are not comparable. Campus recruits leave sooner.
They go for LLM. Some of them want to move to litigation soon. Some just can’t survive the grind of a law firm life.

For partnership also, they prefer homemade partners over lateral partner hires.
They do take in lateral partners, of course, but homemade partners are always preferred. If an associate came up the rank and is ready to take the role of a partner, and grow the practice, that is preferred.

There is the catch. The associate now has to grow the practice.
Most associates falter there. Even most partners in top law firms are not that great at getting business. They are good at getting the work done, keeping the client happy, but building a new practice area? That is increasingly rare.
And that is where the value is if you want to excel and be in demand at a law firm. That is also where the value is because if you can get clients, you can also go and start your own law firm. Or at least a small niche, boutique practice.
You see, if you want to succeed, you need to learn to do what most others find hard to do (and I am not saying that just because we are in the training business).
Most law firm associates want to make partner on the fast track but never bring in a single client to the firm, although that is the best way to make partner in the fast track.
They tend to point fingers at other lawyers and say ‘hey but she made partner without having her own clients, why do I have to bring my own? If I just hang on for another 3 years I think they will have to make me a partner.’
Most law firm associates do not even try to land their own clients. Why? It is not their job to do so! Or is it? Is there a problem with exceeding your brief to benefit your employer? Will you also not ask your employer to do more for you if you delivered more value?
Because it is unfamiliar. Because it is new and they are not in the habit. Because it will take time, effort and there are risks involved.

People are scared because it requires them to take risk, invest in an uncertain future and be generous upfront.
They want a contract before they do the work. They want assured returns before doing so much work. How pathetic.

What if you take the other approach? What if you deliver value first and take all the risk on yourself?
Is it possible that it would make a far more valuable asset to a law firm?

It is no different when you were a law student, after all.

Some law students go to top law schools, work hard, get the jobs they want.
Others crib about how some law students get things easy because of help from uncles.

Government law college students complain that students of private law colleges are preferred. Students of private law colleges complain that students of NLUs are preferred.
Students of most NLUs are very angry with the administration, blaming them from next to no recruitment in the campus. Few NLUs that have good recruitment, are also cribbing about some other things, and even going on protests.
People with low ranks crib that people with high ranks are getting better treatment.

There are ways in which any of them can succeed, and those who accept things as they are and then step out to find ways, find that there are ways.

Long term internships for instance.
Yes, it is very hard to do long term internships. But it is better if you can. It increases your chance of landing a coveted law firm job by leaps and bounds.

Sure, maybe it is not possible to do a long term internship because your college does not allow.
Fine, can you go and intern at night with a lawyer? Most lawyers are working till midnight almost every day, many will happily take an intern who puts in late-night hours assisting them.
When others go home from college, can you show up at the chamber of a lawyer to work for free, month after month, so you can learn the work before you graduate?

Alright if that was also not possible for some reason, but there must be something you can do?
If you are not doing anything at all, if you are saying you are getting no time after college to do anything else at all, then you are lying to yourself. You are kidding yourself.

Most people will not do that tough work. So those few who do that, they benefit disproportionately.
You would notice if you cared to look around. These people are exceptions. But they are also the most successful. Their examples can be reproduced in your life.

The norm is to wait and crib about the lack of opportunities, but the norm does not pay.
It does not make you a partner faster, it does not ensure you get a stellar job irrespective of your grades, it does not ensure that you get a scholarship at a top university.

It is the same with our courses. Only a couple of hundred people sign up for our courses every month.
Because the rest doesn’t want to pay or are too lazy to take on so much course work or find it too hard to commit.

Sorry guys, how are you going to go to the next level when you work at a law firm, even if you get that job? Or how will you grow as an independent lawyer?
If you will not invest time, money and effort with the intent of going to the next level and take some calculated risk, is it going to happen?

Can you be successful, at least better than average, without putting in above-average investments?
Look at how you are investing your time, money and efforts. Is it below average? Is it just about average? How do you expect to get above average results?

What could be above average investment from your side? What could be that investment others are not making yet?
If you are scared to invest before you have the assurance of return, how will you do that extra investment?

Will you be able to hire juniors so you can grow faster? Will you invest in technology or in hiring a good secretary?
Will you spend money on delighting your clients or on networking? How about continuous learning and development, which is critical for getting into emerging and lucrative areas?
Here is how we do it. We tell our students that we can refund their money if they don’t like our course after using it for 30 days. The risk is on us, as long as they do all the assignments, and attend all the classes. Here is the refund policy.
We didn’t have to do it. Nobody in our business does it. No competitor can dare to match this. They would go out of business if they did.

This policy helps our students to trust us.
We work with lawyers, they can take us to the court over this if we don’t respect this after putting out a promise like this openly! Knowing that, they feel comfortable to try our courses. And they sign up for course after course.
They even pay above 1 lakh for our master access library!

Could you do something like this in your area of work?

If you are an intern, start delivering value as if you are already an associate. Learn to do what an associate with 2 years experience is expected to do.
Then you will be treated like a superstar and get the job hands down while other interns will be shocked by how much the firm values you. This is what we train our law student learners for.

If you are a lawyer, then start delivering what a partner may be expected to deliver.
That should be your aim. You must train yourself outside your job hours to achieve that. You better network like you are a partner and the pressure of getting work for the firm is on your broad shoulders.
You better write books, or curate events, or create communities or organize industry conferences, whatever it may take to build a brand!

You may have to deliver the level of work and take the level of responsibility a partner will take for delivering results to the client.
That mindset makes all the difference.

And then see how your firm begins to treat you. See if you do not find yourself on the fast track to partnership, or on the fast track to starting your own firm.
People who are comfortable with what is already present in their life, do not hustle, do not push through. People who are scared to invest do not grow. Or grow at a snail’s pace.

It is hard to wake up in the morning to run 10 kms when you are sleeping in silk pajamas.
Or when you have told yourself that it is too hard for you to try.

The kind of people who may wake up in the morning to run 10 km, also make partners fast or build their own law firms.
And they also do not hesitate to spend 30K and a few hours per week learning how to build a brand or how to get new clients. We have a course for that.
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