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An estimated 4-minute read

Law firms then and now.....64 years after Independence.....

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As the nation ushers its 64th year of independence, some of us look back at the changes that the legal profession has undergone in these past 64 years. I am very sorry to say that except for a few respectable individuals in our profession who still believe in honesty and integrity most of our fellow professionals have become money minded and commerce oriented. Gone are the days when a lawyer would take up a case for the thrill of it. For the thrill of gaining knowledge and fighting out for the client in the court of law.
Young professionals shy away (including me) from the Bar. Law firms have sprung up everywhere. I think we need to carry out a census on the law firms in India. Who on earth is going to keep a check on their birth rate?...Some may feel I hold some kind of grudge against law firms which I would like to clarify is not at all true....I respect some of the old law firms in existence whose style of working still helps young budding lawyers like us to sharpen our legal skills...as the saying goes “Old is Gold”. These law firms truly are the jewels of the legal profession.
My only grievance against modern law firms is their style of functioning and their style of servicing the client’s.....With each passing day law firms are getting unprofessional......unethical and highly money minded.....instead of nurturing talent from all walks of life they always tilt towards the students from the top law colleges. I have never been able to fathom as to why some of the top law firms in Mumbai always have a fascination for the law graduates passing out from the top law colleges. It’s as if they see the money making talent in these potential candidates.
I recollect an incident concerning my friend who was extremely sharp and intelligent and his knowledge in law (as a fresher mind you) was well above than that of any practicing lawyer. He appeared for numerous interviews in some of the top law firms in Mumbai and aced in all of them. He was hungry for the law and not for money. Sadly all of them rejected him citing frivolous reasons or the other. The young lad was heartbroken. He would say that today’s law firms are all about money and less about hard work and knowledge. We eventually lost touch with him and no one knew where he was. We all thought that a talented young lawyer like him would sooner or later fade in the oblivion until one day we came to know that he is working for one of the best law firms in England. God bless his soul !!! But what about others who don’t make it.
It is extremely difficult to get in to these top law firms unless you come from a very strong legal background or you have very strong inside contacts. In one of those rare instances if you are accidentally shortlisted for an interview, they will subject you to all sorts of nonsense during the screening process. The interviewer (usually a managing partner or a senior partner) definitely has the habit of asking irrelevant questions which are remotely connected to what you know. For them this is a time to show off their massive inflated egos. This is the time to show off their mettle by subjecting poor juniors to tough legal questions. The poor hapless junior becomes the hunted counting minutes before he / she is freed. If any of you interviewers happen to read this post for God’s sake please don’t subject the candidates to such torture. I am aware that you want to test their knowledge but how will you ever know the true potential of the candidate unless you give them an opportunity to work with you. Have the interview process simplified and refrain from showing off your knowledge. We know how you reached there.
Furthermore law firms have become the breeding ground of politics. All future politicians should join a law firm to learn the tricks of the trade. It is just amazing to see how equations between various individuals change in a law firm. There are numerous camps having numerous members. Rivalry is intense and if you happen to be a new unfortunate junior in one of the law firms you are stuck in the cross fire. You will be hunted down soon. The more you try to avoid getting yourself involved in politics, the deeper you are pushed in to the dirty world by sweet talkers. Surprisingly these sweet talkers and highly sophisticated politicians are the ones who go on to become partners or senior partners. Its politics and politics alone that can take you up the ladder in a law firm. They have this superb capability of striking at the right opportunity and capitalizing on the moment.
I know of a partner in a law firm whose knowledge of law is highly questionable so much so that he even asks for help from interns when he is assigned to a specific matter. And sadly because of these gibberish internal rivalries the client suffers. So does the young lawyers who are unknowingly sucked in to the whirlpool of office politics. Their knowledge and thirst for law takes a back seat. This is indeed the sorry state of affairs in today’s law firms and I don’t see this improving anytime soon unless brave juniors decide to fight back and do a Anna Hazare style cleansing exercise and flush out the irregularities plaguing a modern law firm.

Message to law firms: Please maintain the integrity of this profession..Please remember the role that we lawyers have been entrusted with in the society.....we all need money but not at the cost of our integrity, honesty and knowledge....
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