Kriti Kalyani is a graduate from National Law Institute University, Bhopal, batch of 2014. Her diligence paid off when she received a job offer from Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan (LKS) in her fifth year of law school. Currently, she is working as an Associate there.
In this interview, Kriti talks about:
- Importance of Internships
- Preparing for job interviews
- Securing a job at LKS
Tell us a bit about your pre-college life.
I have a theory. I wish to do everything possible, so I don’t have any regrets in life. I am grateful to my school for providing the opportunities and giving ample recognition to students. Studies, co-curriculars like Student Council, debates, elocutions, dances, poems and essays to name a few things I did. I belong to the generation where people judged you if you took Commerce. So I did exactly that and proved them wrong. And fortunately, I love where I am today.
I am a first generation lawyer in my family. So law was not an easy choice. But in a way, it was good, since there were no standards to match up to.
Why did you decide to study Law?
Frankly, there was no inspiration. No Perry Masons, no Boston Legal. I wanted to do something different and Science was out of the mix. I love reading and talking. Being a lawyer pays me to do exactly that. What more can one want in their profession!
How practical do you think are the shows like The Practice, J.A.G., Boston Legal, Suits, etc. and movies like 12 Angry Men, Philadelphia, etc.?
These shows miss out on the important details and the unglamorous parts of the profession. But their aim is entertainment and not to raise awareness if the profession, so we cannot really blame them.
How would you describe your time at National Law Institute University, Bhopal?
As much as we crib and complain while we are at it, I miss every moment I spent there. NLIU made me what I am today. A college expands your horizon in terms of the people you meet, the work you do, and makes you the person you eventually become. It’s not about what your college gives you but what you take from it. Studies, Moots, Asian Debate Championship, London Mediation Competition, Cultural Events, Sports Fests, are just a few things which I did in college. I managed the mess for a year, and stayed up nights to organize events which our college hosted. If you do something each day, that your future-self would thank you for, then you have done a good job!
Do you think mooting is beneficial for Law students or is it just to make your CV look fancy?
Yes, mooting is beneficial. But in my opinion not to per se make one’s CV fancy. It teaches you to research smart, gives you the argumentative technique, teaches you the importance of paying attention to details and to withstand the judges’ grilling sessions. Not to sound preachy, I had actually quit mooting in my 2nd year, after being a participant in a moot that was fixed. I did one moot as researcher, in 5th year, and our team won it. It reinforced my faith, that it would probably be okay if someone did not moot.
How did you secure internships with top tier firms?
Most of the internships, including the last one at Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan, Delhi were through personally sending mails and following up. Nishith Desai and Associates, Bangalore was through College Placement Committee. I consider myself lucky because I never had to pester HRs and got confirmations based on my mails. What worked for me was the cover letter and to understand and similarly modify one’s approach based on the firm one is sending their CV to. Do NOT send a bcc to all firms in one go! Putting in mails well in advance and following up is a must.
How relevant did you find your law school education with the kind of work you were required to do at law firms?
Law school education is like how Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory learns to drive a car, sitting in his living room, knowing the physics of it, and learning to drive through a computer simulation. We all know how that would pan out if he were to drive on a busy road.
My plan was to know the options that the field had to offer before choosing one. I wanted to know what I would like and what I wouldn’t. My internships were 50% plan of what I want, and 50% chance of what I’d get. I have interned at a PSU, a corporate law firm, a litigation firm, an IPR firm, and a tax firm. I finally decided that I liked tax enough to make it my profession. Also, because we are not extensively taught tax in our curriculum, there was more curiosity and eagerness to learn.
What do you have to say about the advisability of law students pursuing internships at firms alone?
Corporate law firms are just one part of what this field offers. I agree that it’s probably the most glamorous part in terms of money, but money won’t sustain you in it for long, interest will. So ensure that you like your work before you decide to pick it up. A possible way to go about it could be by way of elimination of available areas of practice. Some people wish to pursue UPSC and Judicial Exams. Corporate law firms wouldn’t really help them much.
You have been a member of multiple committees while in law school. Do you think these enhanced your skill-sets?
It’s one of those underrated and creditless things that you do in college. I think it’s equally important to learn the administrative work and to have the ability to make others work. I worked hard for every cell I was part of, for every event I volunteered. Eventually, I became Convener of the Cell for Studies in Intellectual Property Rights (CSIPR) which publishes its Annual IPR Journal. Dealing with college administration, correspondences with authors, ensuring work to be done on time, etc. made me more patient. The clerical and at times monotonous work is a huge part of a lawyer’s life. Trust me, paperwork never leaves you, and the Cell gave me enough experience to not throw papers in somebody’s face!
I was also part of the Sports Committee for a good four years. Organizing Virudhaka-2013 was an amazing experience and this September-October, I am even getting nostalgic!
You secured a job at Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan (L&S) in your fifth year of law school. How did you go about achieving this?
I had applied via mail to L&S for my Summer Internship, and fortunately I got through. My previous internship at Nishith Desai Associates, Bangalore helped. At L&S, the presentation which the interns made in the end was the deciding factor. I read a lot of cases, lot of opinions, prepared a chronology of judicial pronouncements and even prepared the pattern of the mindset of the Tribunal and High Court judges. The presentation was well liked and my mentor put in a good word for me. I got a call back, but L&S came to campus before my scheduled internship and I got placed!
How many times did you intern at L&S before you bagged the job offer?
L&S usually follows a policy of 1 call-back and then a PPO. I interned at L&S in June and got a call back for October. However, they came to campus in September and I was recruited.
How did you go about preparing for your interview?
My senior had told me, not knowing something which is mentioned on your CV is a criminal offence! So I did my CV well. That means reading up on all recent changes in the topics you did three years ago! Apart from that I brushed up my tax basics. L&S usually does not ask a lot of HR questions, so did not do those much. I was asked Class 12th Accountancy in my interview as well, so there isn’t a 1-2-3-step formula. You can only do so much. Be confident and trust all that you have learnt in five years.
How do you think one should go about writing a CV when one is applying for a job?
DO NOT lie on your CV. If you’re going to lie, be smart about it. Add topics/subjects which you know about. Do not add something which you won’t be able to answer in an interview.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Well, that’s a difficult question. As of now, it’s been three months at L & S, in the service tax litigation team, and so far it has been an amazing experience. I cannot plan too far ahead, so as of now I am learning the tricks of the trade, and it’s good. LL.M. is a distant plan, if at all.
If you could re-live your five years in Law school, is there something you would do differently?
If I could re-live the five years, I’d probably try and get an article published. I’d pray for the patience to write one!
Lastly, what would be your parting message for our readers?
All life philosophy apart, enjoy your time while you can. As easy-going and independent work life feels, it isn’t! It has its perks, but nowhere close to being in college. Coming back from work, and having just enough time to pick up a book and read one chapter is a luxury. So, make the best of it while you can. Make it count!