•  •  Dark Mode

Your Interests & Preferences

I am a...

law firm lawyer
in-house company lawyer
litigation lawyer
law student
aspiring student
other

Website Look & Feel

 •  •  Dark Mode
Blog Layout

Save preferences

Quality brands / Issue 99

Legally India newsletter
Legally India newsletter

CLAT madness descended on Legally India kicking off perhaps the largest and most sustained virtual law student brawl in the history of India. But first, cast an eye over the excitement that lawyers get up to when they grow up.

The Ashok Paranjpe of Naik Paranjpe & Co has joined the M Dhruva start-up to create MDP, which has mapped out an ambitious full-service growth strategy.

But Naik Naik & Co (as it is now known again) has not been sitting still and has thrust into Mumbai suburbia with an office right next door to all the Bollywood glitz in Andheri and no less ambition.

Bombay’s Advani & Co has ventured further out and merged with three-partner Delhi start-up Accendo.

Hemant Sahai has hired two indirect tax partners.

The foreign lawyers in India saga took an unexpected twist as the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) faces a Delhi High Court action by the same lawyers’ organisation that is suing 41 foreign law firms in Chennai for illegal practice. The word “London Court” in the LCIA’s name is claimed to be illegal, as is probably the fact that as institutional arbitration bodies grow, advocates and arbitrators making a living out of lengthy domestic ad hoc arbitrations could be out of jobs.

And as the Monsoon season is about to fully let rip across India law firms have been closing a raft of corporate deals – see below for more.
However, one lawyer has looked outside the law firm hustle and shuffle and decided on a Life Less Legal: Ex-Trilegal lawyer Vibhuti Kabra has opened up a retail boutique specialising in women’s dress shirts in Delhi.

Now back to what’s been troubling those yet to get into the profession.

The NUJS Kolkata-conducted Common Law Admissions Test (CLAT) was surely under a cursed star after the results website crashed badly on Saturday, the initial results were close to useless for students and only by late on Monday night was there any certainty about the outcome. Also, in an innovative initiative future law students’ preferences for the top CLAT colleges would be made after the results were out, in a few days time from today following online counselling sessions.

Cue the kind of frantic lobbying by law students last exhibited by foreign and domestic law firms around ex-law minister Bhardwaj.

Confident as ever the NLSIU students, whose brand and recruitment committee are arguably as powerful as many mid-size law firms in India, set up a creative Facebook page called Ask NLS to share friendly advice about the self-styled ‘Harvard of the East’ for CLAT toppers, who are all but expected to join the oldest national.

Other younger law schools’ students, however, have begun an offensive and allegedly contacted some top CLAT students directly to poach them out of the traditional pecking order, while bloggers have blogged, counter-blogged and retracted blogs on Legally India.
Cue apparent outrage from some NLS students and alums, suggesting that any option other than NLS is tantamount professional and academic suicide.

Let’s take a step back and avoid some of the hyberbole.

As our latest analysis of the 2nd Mooting Premier League sponsored by Allen & Overy shows this week, students are clearly bright at many top colleges, and there is a good spread of talent and performance across the tiers.

Legally India also completed a preliminary recruitment analysis of most of India’s top CLAT law schools this week. In terms of jobs there is not much distance, if any, between the national trinity of NLSIU, Nalsar and NUJS (although the latter is yet to formally disclose its recruitments). When it comes down to it they all have it comparatively easy and high-paying recruiters line up at campus doors to pick up a majority of students. A few years later, it will be impossible to guess at the alma mater of any associate at a top law firm.

Nevertheless, this has bred an entitlement culture and expectation where many entering law do so to for eventual salaries of Rs 10 lakh plus and meteoric careers, which has no doubt contributed to the popularity of the CLAT. But once you move outside the purported top three brands it quickly becomes apparent that there are very few large law firms or recruiters that have need for the kinds of fresher numbers that would make partners fly to far-flung corners of India for milkround interviews.

Some like to blame this on the absence of foreign firms on Indian soil. But if you ask the big foreign firms only a handful say they would like to open an office in India one day, and those that do would all deny that in the short-to-medium term they’d hire more than one, two or three students each year (take the size of firms such as Talwar Thakore Associates or Platinum Partners as an indicative benchmark). And right now those foreign firms almost exclusively pick up one or two students from the top three or so law schools.

But even at supposed non-first-tier law school brands students can do well and pick up jobs at top domestic firms, albeit more sweat and effort will be required.

HNLU Raipur is a prime example where a heavily interning batch managed to impress enough law firms for solid placements. Smart and enterprising students can prosper almost anywhere when not excessively stifled by college administration and bureaucracy. The most successful colleges usually also have the most active and independent student bodies. All law school administrators would do well to recognise that, although sometimes adversity can even breed strength.

Prospective students would do well to recognise that a multiple choice exam itself should entitle you to nothing: build your own career and go where your heart tells you to go, tempered by your own research and perceptions of the objective qualities of an institution and its student culture.

If India’s brightest students stopped joining just a small number of colleges by default according to the brand, institution’s age, alumni network and marginal differences in recruitment pay packets, India could see more than just a few ‘centres of excellence’ grow up one day, despite new national law schools opening every year, such as NLU Assam that is facing its own question marks.

But even NLS Bangalore and the rest will decline one day without a competitive market for legal education where they too have to innovate, improve and prove themselves to the brightest students every single year.

All colleges, from the very top to the very bottom need you and will get shaped by you if join them. The choice is yours if you think a college deserves you.

Campus recruitment data

Deals of the Week

At the bar and bench

Best of the Blogs

To get future newsletters straight to your inbox every Friday for free, please enter your name and email below.

Subscribe to Legally India's newsletter!

Context, analysis & more straight to your email inbox every week, unsubscribe any time.

It's a must-read for every lawyer in or near India.

Click to show 11 comments
at your own risk
(alt+c)
By reading the comments you agree that they are the (often anonymous) personal views and opinions of readers, which may be biased and unreliable, and for which Legally India therefore has no liability. If you believe a comment is inappropriate, please click 'Report to LI' below the comment and we will review it as soon as practicable.