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Disclaimer stays the same. Laughing

For the record, I have graduated and am currently working in a ‘learned’ law firm.

Since yesterday, I have been listening to the song mentioned in the title continuously, and this is what inspired me to write this post. The title literally means, ‘Why this torture, sister/girl?’ (It’s got the most hits on Youtube for an Indian song, if you haven't heard it yet, you should definitely hear it, it’s really cool).

Law school has ended and frustrations have been put to rest, since the coveted job has finally been acquired. It’s time to look back and reflect upon where exactly life is headed and whether there is an end at all, dead or non-dead, that is immaterial at the moment.

I have collected a sample of the fresh graduates that I know from law school in order to ascertain what their life after law school looks like and how they are coping with it.  The data is as follows:

-  10 % of them have quit within 2 months of joining due to lack of interest in the practice areas they were engaged in.

-  20 % are on the verge of quitting due to the reason mentioned above.

-  20 % are working on odd jobs. Examples, making presentations for the partners, organizing conferences, making sure partner gets coffee and tea on time. They are not on the verge of quitting since they’re getting paid a lot for it.

-  40 % seem pleased with their jobs. They are getting to do high end corporate transactional work and are getting to tour various destinations and live in five star luxury.

-  10 % have joined litigation and are engaged in odd jobs. But, they find solace in the fact that they are getting to go to courts.

First, the key term to be noted in the data collected is ‘odd jobs’.  When a law graduate gets recruited for the position of an associate, the only two terms he glances at is ‘compensation/package offered’ and ‘practice area’ of the firm.  This necessarily means that his work profile would not and should not include personal activities of the person at the helm of affairs and also activities which do not make him contribute effectively to the firm.

Most law firms in India are proprietary concerns and therefore, professionalism in these firms becomes a subjective concept. Since there are no tabs or strings attached to the nature of work that an employed person should or should not undertake, people keep quiet and go ahead doing whatever is assigned to them. There is always the argument that a person should quit if he/she is not satisfied with the nature of the work. But, then again, the legal market is a well connected and small market where news spreads fast and a label once assigned to a person is hard to come out of. For instance, a label of ‘arrogant’ for a person who has only been making presentations for 6 months and refuses to work on another presentation because he isn’t getting real work that he signed up for would be termed as ‘arrogant’ and that would work to his detriment wherever he applies.

Second, given the fact that most firms are ‘proprietary’ concerns; the next question to be asked is where do you see yourself in the firm five years down the line? Unless, the partner does not have a progeny, it is virtually impossible to reach the helm of affairs in an Indian firm. Of course, there are exceptions to this assumption. However, not everyone employed features in this lot of exceptions. The 40 % of the sample data collected feature in this exceptional category.

Third, experience is something which most firms award. ‘Loyalty’ of an individual is given a lot of importance. But, as Darwin put it best, ‘Survival of the fittest’ is the principle on which life functions, and. therefore, if a senior takes credit for your work and does not assign you the matter, you have to keep quiet in order to ensure job security. Nobody would dare to expose this.

So going by the inferences drawn, do we come back to a situation where a lawyer becomes a true ‘lawyer’ and begins his independent practice and lives up to the spirit of the profession.

Only time will tell, whether the current firm culture would change or there would be a revamping of the way people think.

As for me, I am at peace with the good food and the nice office space assigned to me, and, of course the good work. But, then again, in the Indian legal market, nothing is predictable and you always need to be on guard to ensure your position doesn't get usurped.

Until then, everyone with a dilemma has a common mantra, ‘Why this Kolaveri Di?’

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