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He can offer you a law firm job you can't refuseHe can offer you a law firm job you can't refuseDear Aunty & Uncle. I am a fourth year student from a lesser-known law school of New Delhi. My college doesn't have any provision for placement. I am focusing more on internships: apart from being a learning experience I am hoping these internships help me in getting noticed by the employers - or at least at the end of the day my CV looks presentable.

I am really worried about my future which doesn't look promising.

I want to be a corporate lawyer but do you think I will be able to be one? Do you think any employer will be interested to recruit me? Keeping in mind that I don't come from an elite law school, which is a deciding factor during the recruitment process. Kindly guide me, thank you.

Ps: My parents are not in legal service of any kind.

Aunty:
Beta, bagging a corporate law job is partly about being in the right place at the right time.

First off, your CV is not the most important determinant of your destiny if you hail from a lesser-known law school. That can be a good thing. Accept this, and look forward.

Many students might see jugaad as a dirty word. It is not, once you call it ‘networking’. ‘Networking’ oils the gears of the professional world, and if you are a great networker, you will be successful. That I guarantee you.

Focusing on internships is a good idea. You need to use these internships to learn more practical law, beef up your CV and be noticed by partners (or seniors) – keep in touch with them gently after you finish your internship.

Also internships are a great way of finding out about recruitment opportunities 'the network' of friends, internees or any other contacts you make. The bigger your network, the more likely that there is only one or two people that connect you to the job you actually want.

But be realistic and flexible about the job you start with. It may lie anywhere from Tier 1 to 25 of the corporate law firm universe, start-ups or government departments.

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And don’t you dare make a face about the latter! You have to start somewhere, beta, and if you are truly talented and passionate about being a corporate lawyer you will use your first job as a stepping stone to greater things.

This also goes for final year internships. While reaching for moon is admirable, be smart about choosing your 'pre-placement' internship. Research and go for the younger firms which are still open to hiring experiments, instead of the pickiest, where the pre-placement offer (PPO) rat-race is in its final lap.

Only once you’ve networked, does your CV start to really matter. Make sure you have top grades, relevant and top publications and other extra-curricular achievements.

Also, use paper presentations to take you to conferences and will take you full circle to networking heaven!

Don’t make the rookie error of just listing on your CV any old internet self-published article or conference you may have attended, trying to mask the lack of pedigree of your college – no one will be impressed or fooled.

Finally, exercise patience. There are maybe only around 100 big-city law firms, from big to small, as against thousands of corporate law aspirants, many from the national law schools.

It may take time, even up to six months after you graduate, but your corporate law job will come around.

In the meantime, work overtime to perfect your legal skills, CV and interview skills. The best time to start is now. Don’t procrastinate!

Uncle:
Listen. Being completely honest, your odds of making it into a half-decent firm are slim, if not nil, unless you can find a distant relative who runs a law firm. Or do any of your relatives work in government or big companies? Ask them if they know any lawyers whom they can pressure into giving you a job.

If all else fails, get a haircut, new clothes and marry into a legal family: many are looking for eligible in-laws.

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