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An estimated 4-minute read

The Recruit: Part 1

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When I started law school in the year 2001, most of us would have sold our souls to land a job with Ramachand, Saunf & Family which paid the princely sum of Rs.30,000 per month. 

Then, two things happened:

One, with the economic boom going strong in the west, ambitious international law firms began to look eastwards for hard-working English speaking lawyers that they could hire who would, at some point in the future, help them set up shop once the Indian market liberalised.

Secondly and more importantly, in my fourth year a close friend of mine at law school disappeared completely for a week. I found out later that he had an interview in London with Colby, Hewitt and Richards LLP and that the firm had paid for this trip.

You see, way back in 2005, when law firms in the UK didn’t cut costs by flying down once a year themselves and interviewing in a hotel room for two straight days, they would fly you out to the magical city of London for interviews.

I was hooked.

So I immediately updated my CV and sent it in along with a snazzy cover letter. Of course, I then completely forgot about it.

A couple of months later I got a call from a friend who was a part of the recruitment committee of another law school. It turned out they had received a letter inviting one Mr. Nandii Reywal to London for an assessment. This was my first glimpse of the efficiency that defines Colby, Hewitt and Richards LLP.

I became a minor celebrity in college overnight. Classmates who had sneered earlier, now stopped by to shake my hand. Hot junior girls I would only ogle at from a distance asked me for tips on how to draft a good CV. Even the mooters acknowledged my existence before drifting back into Oppenheim’s International Law (ed. Sir Robert Jennings and Sir Arthur Watts, 9th edition, 2003). 

My tickets were booked, my hotel reserved and I set out on my journey with much fanfare and trumpet. Not even a non-reclining seat and a Jain meal booked by an overenthusiastic travel agent could dampen my spirits. I was actually going to London for free!

The flight itself was uneventful. I watched a movie I had already seen back in India and shoved my Jain meal down my throat. Then, two things happened:

One, as I looked out of the window while landing, I saw lush green meadows bathed in sunshine that were straight out of the Yashraj films I was addicted to. Coming from a parched brown desert, I decided this was a scene worth falling in love with.

Two, as I stepped off the aerobridge and into Heathrow airport, I was hit by the weird kind of silence that I would later discover is peculiar to England. However, coming from a violently noisy atmosphere, this really unnerved me.

After I had negotiated the incredibly long line for non-EU passport holders at immigration, I was asked very politely whether I could answer some questions for a survey. Apparently, I was one of the lucky people in a thousand who were given this honour completely at random! I wondered what dinner in Guantanamo Bay was like. 

Anyhow, I got out of the airport and hailed a black cab like I had seen Hugh Grant do in Notting Hill. I soon found out why this is not the recommended mode of transport around London. We stopped at every traffic light on the way and I got to my hotel in Russel Square an hour later lighter by £97.

I figured that now that I was here I may as well try and get a job. For the next two days, I memorised the list of awards the firm had won and pored over all the news articles with amazing things written about it. I listed my strengths and weaknesses. I spoke to myself in the mirror and practised my facial expressions. I found words to put my meagre achievements in context, glorifying them to make them sound grander without deviating too far from the truth (eg. Coordinator of a moot court competition sounds way better than a mere bailiff). I polished my shoes and brushed my suit over and over again. I travelled to Moorgate station, found my way to the Colby, Hewitt and Richards office and gazed at it lovingly. I tried to decipher the English accent by speaking to as many tube officials as I could.

The night before my interview, I went to sleep at about 10.30 pm. “Tomorrow is going to be the biggest day of my life”, I thought to myself as I drifted into sweet dreams of mergers and acquisitions.

(Click here to read The Recruit: Part 2)









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