It is no secret that the career trajectory of lawyers in India has changed drastically in the last few decades. When we were growing up, when we heard the word ‘lawyer’ – we imagined a figure in a traditional black gown, arguing their hearts out in old courtrooms with polished wood panels and high ceilings and with every tenth word out of their mouth being ‘milord’ – after all, this is what we saw on TV and in the movies, and a lawyer was synonymous with a black-and-white clad figure rushing about in court, a cape-like black gown billowing behind them.
However, now, when we think of lawyers, at least half the time, we imagine a figure in a smart business suit in an air-conditioned glass-and-concrete building, twirling an expensive pen in their manicured hands – still arguing, of course, but this time, the ones they need to convince would be rich businessmen instead of judges in colonial-style wigs.
This is the transition that has taken place over a few decades. Of course, this doesn’t mean that courtrooms are no longer used – they are, very much so. It is just that the practice of law has branched out – now we have litigation lawyers – the ones who go to court, and the corporate lawyers – the ones who go to boardrooms instead.
But that’s not all. There are further specialisations in both segments, and new practice areas are emerging rapidly – tech laws, gaming laws – there are so many. Now, this is an excellent development for budding lawyers, of course – there are so many practice areas to choose from! However, this also raises the question – how do you choose what you should do, and more importantly, how do you ensure that you succeed in your chosen field?
As the person who heads the Office of Career Services at LawSikho, India’s biggest (and in my opinion, the best – but then, I’m an involved party) legal ed-tech organisation – this was the question that was very, very important for me. We have a pool of over 12,000 learners – from first year college students to retired professionals in their 60s – and, naturally, the career perspective and aspirations of this diverse pool can’t fit into a single bucket.
We had plenty of brainstorming sessions around this – we still do, because it is a dynamic process that requires constant upgrade. We found a solution, we deployed it, and we found that it works – we’ve kept a close eye on the data precisely because of this.
What is the solution? Structured mentorship and career guidance.
Because we can’t afford to leave our learners at the mercy of Lady Luck, however kind she might be.
So, we need to make sure that our learners have a wholistic development – for this, we have various teams, including the course teams, the mentorship team and the placement team.
When a learner enters our system, they are assigned a mentor. This mentor is not just a buddy who helps them navigate the system, but provides career guidance. The mentor discusses career aspirations and then chalks out individual career roadmaps for each learner. Then, throughout the learner’s journey with LawSikho, the mentor monitors their progress, assigns career tasks accordingly and helps the learner as required.
Let me explain in detail how this works. We identified three pillars of a successful career – (1) knowledge/skills, (2) track record/experience, and (3) outreach/networking. Now, this much is pretty basic. However, we need a systematic approach to each of these and to make progress. If I have no knowledge, no skills – does it matter if I have a massive network? Would I be able to do a great job and achieve success? Of course not.
Let’s start with knowledge/skills. Now, we’re an ed-tech company, and we have tons of upskilling courses and test-prep courses
– thus, knowledge/skills aren’t an issue. Our upskilling is easily worth 1-2 PQE in the relevant practice area – in fact, this is the guiding factor behind our course design. The learners attend classes (taught by internal and external industry experts) and attempt the exercises (mini-simulations of real-life work). These are run by the course teams, and the mentorship team also keeps track of the learner’s course progress.
Next we come to track record/experience. In short, these are points that you need to add in your CV to enhance it. For this, we have the placements team, which collaborates with recruiters to get jobs and internships for our learners and the portfolio team, which helps with writing articles and getting them published. Additionally, the mentorship team also does a one-on-one live CV review session with the learners.
For outreach/networking, again, the mentorship team advises on creating/maintaining professional LinkedIn profiles and assigns career tasks to the learners. This includes research and connecting tasks.
A career roadmap chalked out by our mentors covers all these aspects, keeping in mind the career goals of the individual learners and the timeline they have. For example, the career roadmap of a second-year law student who wants to work in a corporate law firm upon graduation will look very different from that of a working litigation lawyer who wishes to move to a corporate law firm. Their tasks will be different, their guidance will be different. The student will be suggested appropriate internships and given a path until graduation, while the working lawyer will be taught to leverage their previous experience and build their profile onwards.
It is a very structured, systematic approach – and I can very proudly say that we are the only ones providing this service! In roughly a year and a half, we have already placed over 2600 learners in jobs and internships! Practical education has always been our USP, and wholistic development and planned success is our secret formula. This is one of the biggest benefits to any recruiter when hiring our learners - there’s no training cost or learning slowly on the job, and also the reason for our learners’ successful careers!
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