How to get job at a Tier-1 Law Firm in India?

Ms. Ayushi Mukherjee is currently a final year law student at the Institute of Law Nirma University. Ma’am has recently been placed with one of the prestigious law firms in India, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas& Co. (SAM).


In conversation with Ms. Ayushi Mukherjee, Future Joinee at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas& Co.

Before beginning with the interview, Legally Flawless team congratulates her for this achievement.

Legally Flawless has started this drive to aware law students and young lawyers for them to achieve in the field of law through strategies from the achievers themselves.

Ma’am, you have been offered the position of an Associate at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas& Co. (SAM), How did you feel about the same?

I feel overwhelmed. This was really a joyous surprise for me.I had decided on pursuing a career in corporate law from the initial days of my law school. Therefore, I planned my internships accordingly.

Where did you intern from the initial years?

I did not intern with corporates from the first year itself. My first internship was with an NGO and the next was at the trial court. My first corporate internship was in my third year at the Ahmedabad office of SAM. It is important that you start small and then build big. If you start interning with big firms in your first year only, then the firms will not be able to give you any meaningful work. That is why it is important to plan your internships well so that when you are there, you are able to make the most out of the opportunity.

Other internships:

  • Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company, Pune
  • Krishna and Saurastri, Delhi
  • K Singhania and Co, Mumbai
  • Samvad Partners, Mumbai
How did the Covid-19 impact your internships?

With Covid-19 a lot of things have changed. With respect to internships, I believe we should not see this as a setback. Many firms are offering virtual internships during these times and I believe it is an equally good opportunity to learn. I have interned with 2 firms so far and my internships have been equally fruitful as they were in terms of physical internships. My last internship was with K. Singhania & Co. and I am currently interning with Samvad Partners, Mumbai.

You are not from an NLU, so how was it different for you to get recruited at a tier-1 Law Firm?

I believe that this Non-NLU bias is a myth. Throughout my internships or whatever experience, I have had so far, I have never been discriminated against or nobody has held prejudice against me on the ground that I am from a Non-NLU. When you are interning at a firm, all they want out of you is the work. If you are able to deliver then it does not matter if you are from a Non- NLU.

How should a law student go about deciding between litigation, corporate, an in-house counsel etc?

I believe that this is where your internships play the most helpful role. Your internships basically help you in 2 ways. Firstly, they help you meet people and network. Secondly, they help you explore the various practice areas and help you narrow down your practice area of interest.

When you read about a practice area, in theory, you are not able to get an idea about how it works in practical life. It is only with the internships that you are able to get this kind of practical exposure. It is best for you to explore and do as many internships as possible. Once you intern at a law firm, you will understand the kind of work that they delegate, and then you will be better placed to narrow down your interest.

What is the role of co-curricular activities- Moot Court Competition, Debates, publications, etc. in getting a job at a tier 1 law firm?

Co-curricular activities help you build an all-rounded CV. If a CV has all the aspects covered along with the academic activities then it is preferred over the CV which is just based on academic performance. Co-curricular activities hold importance in that aspect.

Also, if you ask me which Co-curricular activity gives your CV more weight then I will not be able to outrank any one of them. So, whatever suits your interest, you must go for it. 

You have participated in Moot Court Competitions; did that give you an edge over your CV?

I really don’t know if that gave me an edge because at the moment, I am not well-placed to understand how the process works from the end of the recruiters. My only motivation to do moot courts was that it provided me with an amazing learning experience. Both my Moot Court Competitions were in diversified areas of law. The first moot court competition was based on International Law. The second Moot Court Competition was on Investment arbitration. I picked these moots specifically because I knew that I will not be studying these subjects during my law school as part of the course curriculum.

What is your opinion with respect to online Courses?

I personally did not opt to take any of these online courses but I do believe that these courses give you an opportunity to specialize in an area.If somebody has already narrowed down their area of interest and wants to make it their practice area, then an online course on that subject can help them streamline their CV and it would tell the recruiters that you have diversified knowledge in that practice area.

What is the role of college grades to get recruited in a tier 1 firm?

Good grades do help more opportunities come your way. However, I believe that the grades may not be the end in themselves. Your CGPA or grades are not a parameter to judge your intelligence because a person might get an internship based on grades but if their work does not resonate the same, it will not help them land up anywhere.

In my personal experience, I know people who do not score good grades but their expertise over their practice area is phenomenal. This way they perform amazingly during internships and that’s how they stand out.

What was the role of your college/ University in getting placed?

My placement was through the College Placement Cell. The Firm was invited to the college by the recruitment cell. That was a big boost because it gave me an opportunity to interview with the firm.

How can a student from not so good college get recruited?

I believe Internships are one of the most crucial things a person does during his/her college life. It is only through internships that you are recognized in a particular firm. I know people who have done multiple internships in a particular firm and that has helped them land a PPO. That is a good way to go about it.

What soft-skills are required to get recruited in a Teir-1 Law Firm?

There is no straight jacket formula. These things worked for me but these are not the only things that might work for somebody else. Soft skills are extremely important because you will have to sit for an interview. So, for that, you must have good Communication Skills and technical knowledge (About the technical knowledge or work you have done in your internships). Apart from that, there are multiple factors that go into play.

What is the procedure through which you got recruited?

It is a two-step process. Firstly, there is a selection process from the resumes submitted to them and then the shortlisted candidates are called in for an interview.

What were the types of questions during the interview?

In any interview, you will find 2 types of questions. The technical questions and the HR questions. For me, the technical questions were mostly based on my resume (the work done during internships).

The HR questions can be anything under the sun like:

  • 1.   What do your parents do?
  • 2.   What do your siblings do?
  • 3.   How was the experience in law school?

Both the Technical and the HR questions play major roles in an interview. Hence, one needs to equally prepare for both of these types.

Any advice for juniors?

My only advice to all my juniors would be that:

  • There is plenty of time to figure out things.
  • There is no ideal way to go about all of these things.
  • People make switches all the time. Even if you are in your 4th year and have not yet picked up your practice area. It is completely fine. You can always switch.
  • Make most out of the opportunities and explore.
  • Enjoy anything you do.

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