Entrepreneur & Alternative careerists

Priyan Garg, Marketing Executive, Lexis Nexis, on work profile and drifting towards management

Priyan Garg graduated from Amity Law School, Noida in 2015. Having a versatile law school experience has helped Priyan build a wholesome view of the legal world. He has, during his law school years, edited the Amity Journal, coordinated seminars, participated and brought laurels in moot court competitions and helped the society by drafting wills for senior citizens. Right after graduating from law school, he joined as a Marketing Executive at LexisNexis India.

In this interview, he talks to SuperLawyer about:

  • His choice of law school and the benefits of going to a law school in Delhi NCR
  • His life at law school and experience with editing for a journal
  • His take on the importance of moot courts and his dream moot court competition
  • His reasons to go for Marketing at LexisNexis over litigation or corporate law firm job
  • His future plans and message to budding law students

 

Please tell our readers a bit about yourself. Why did you choose to do law? Did you have any other interests before deciding to pursue law?

I am presently working as a Marketing Executive at LexisNexis India. I completed my graduation (Bronze Medallist) from Amity Law School, Noida and joined LexisNexis India soon after passing out. Growing up in Chandigarh, I had never thought of myself as a lawyer. I chose a common path for many my age – the sciences – and hoped to find a career within the field. The decision to study law was one I made rather late, as late as until after my board examinations. I did feel at the time that the timing of my decision might put me at a disadvantage; I believed that most who studied law had always wanted to become lawyers. To my surprise, however, I was amongst the majority. Having met numerous law students from across the country over the past few years, I can safely say that many only decide to study law months or even weeks before the CLAT exam. One of the reasons for the growing number of people wanting to become lawyers is, perhaps, that law serves as a back-up option for many students.

I chose law over sciences because I found one massive advantage in the field. Science in India is a domain that is extremely hard to enter, with difficult competitive examinations and few seats at State-run institutions. After one graduates with a degree in engineering or medicine, however, the task of building a career is less daunting. Law on the other hand, is quite the opposite. It is comparatively easy to study law and become an advocate, and far harder to establish oneself once enrolled. Aged seventeen, I felt it would be easier for me to challenge myself at a later stage, when I was more mature and had the backing of increased knowledge and a professional degree.

 

Which law schools did you apply to? How did you zero in on Amity Law School, Noida and why B.B.A. LL.B.?

To be honest, Amity was not my first choice as a law school. While I had heard good things about the institution, I was fearful of joining a privately run school. After CLAT, I had the option of joining a lesser-known National Law School. Nonetheless, I chose to undertake a program in law at Amity. There were three reasons behind this decision. First, being in Delhi allowed me to be closer to home (Chandigarh was only a few hours’ drive away). Second, in the NCR, I found myself at the heart of the Indian Legal System. Not only did this ensure that many successful personalities would be available in college for guest lectures and seminars, but also it increased my chances of gaining adequate work experience. With the best counsel, law firms and all levels of Courts present in the city, the opportunities for a keen intern were many. Third, I was fascinated by the courses Amity had on offer. The B.B.A., LL.B (Hons.) programme offered the unique opportunity of studying economics and management with law. I find now that this combination has given both, a rounded character to my personality (having now studied science, commerce and arts), as well as prepared me to better understand the needs of corporate clients I may have in the future.

 

How would you describe five years of your college life? Please share your experience as an Editor of the Amity Law School Journal. Any tips for law students who aspire to get published?

I would like to believe that I made the most of my five years at law school. I studied when I was required to, and ensured I had time for my friends and myself too. Law does require lots of studying, yes, but a law school experience is incomplete without participation in volunteer programmes, co-curricular activities and sports. Looking back, I am glad I made the most of the resources I had available.

As far as Amity’s journal is concerned, I was fortunate to be involved in the publication’s nascent stage. This encompassed work that ranged from receiving an ISBN number to creating an editorial board and calling for academic writing. Needless to say, it was an exhilarating experience.

My experience in academics is limited to the years I have spent as a student. I do, however, hold very strong views when it comes to the state of academic writing in India today. There is a great void in the legal space when it comes to original academic writing. It is the Indian education system that is largely at fault for this; students are taught to learn another’s views, not taught to think for themselves or to form their own opinions. The legal space is full of unoriginal work. To illustrate, an article titled “The Law of Arbitration in India” is not an original academic work. Such an article, like most one reads nowadays, merely summarizes the law on a subject. At best, a paragraph is saved at the end for the author’s own opinion. It is incredibly rare to find new approaches to law, new solutions to legal problems, or strong criticisms of existing legislation and precedent. My advice to anyone wanting to be published – be original and show something new through your writing.

 

You have received a number of Corporate Awards at your college such as “Best Business Acumen and Awareness” citation and Shri Raian Karanjawala Trophy at ALS, please tell our readers about them.

Apart from classroom studies, internships and mooting activities I always made it a point to be involved in various committees managing events happening in the University which gave me an overall exposure to what goes behind organising and hosting an event. During the five years of my law college I actively organized the Amity International Moot Court Competition, Amity Quiz on Competition Law, Amity Competition on Law Reforms, Debates etc. According to me, there is no substitute for accuracy in knowledge. Know yourself, know your business, know your men, is the mantra of today’s success. Successful business persons understand the thin line of difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their benefits.

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I received the citation of “Best in Business Acumen and Awareness” for displaying a charismatic persona, administrative acumen and managerial skills of a high order and the ability to combine compassion with steely resolve.

I received the Shri Raian Karanjawala Trophy on my convocation which has been constituted in the name of “Shri Raian Karanjawala”, an iconic legal luminary and a distinguished senior lawyer of India. His untiring efforts & contribution towards the development and maturing of legal systems have enhanced the image of India globally. Shri Raian Karanjawala Trophy is bestowed upon the student who has displayed extraordinary zeal and dedication towards learning and imbibing the tenets and spirit of law. Also, the student who has shown praiseworthy performance in corporate courses, interned in law offices/firms and attended conferences and seminars based on corporate laws.

 

How important is mooting for a law student? Which moot did you enjoy the most, in terms of the organisation and the subject matter? Was there any “dream moot” which you wanted to participate in?

Aside from academics, mooting is perhaps the most essential activity in a law student’s career. I participated in six moot court competitions focussing primarily on Constitutional Law. One may contest that the arguing system in a moot differs greatly from what one may experience in Court; however, I am of the firm belief that mooting gives one the right level of confidence in arguing etiquette and manner to be able to present cases before a real judge. Further, research being an essential component of any lawyer’s job, mooters will always find themselves at a significant advantage when faced with challenging research propositions at work.

My favourite moot was the Justice Bodh Raj Sawhny Memorial Moot Court Competition held at NALSAR University. While the moot itself may not compare to others on offer in India, the subject matter – constitutional law – gave participants the opportunity to present unique arguments and step in the shoes of some of our nation’s most eminent senior counsels.

The Philip C. Jessup moot is perhaps the only competition that comes to mind when I think of a “dream moot”. What is most attractive about this competition is the enormity of the challenge that is qualifying for the international round, the experience of participating alongside the best law schools in the world, and the exceptionally high calibre of judges and mooters alike.

 

You have done a variety of internships, while focussing on litigation. Were you always inclined towards litigation? What according to you was instrumental towards gaining so many internships?

I often compare law to medicine. To a layman, the job of a pathologist, while indispensable, doesn’t seem as exciting as that of a surgeon. To someone not yet initiated into the legal fraternity, the distinction between transactional law and litigation can appear similar. There is an indubitable excitement about litigation, about forming strategies and arguing before judges, that makes litigation attractive. It is for this reason that I found myself lured by the field.

Having said that, interest in a field is not essential to get an internship in that field. Unfortunately, most internships in India are awarded through the applicant’s contacts or network. Where firms or practitioners accept applications, emphasis is usually laid on the candidate’s academic record and university, with secondary regard being given to non-academic achievements. I was very fortunate to have a good academic record, thereby ensuring that many applications were accepted. I also made a conscious effort to apply early and to continue to follow up with the organisation until they sent me a response. I’ve found that applications are not always replied to; “getting after” a firm to view your application is essential.

Coming from a non-legal background, there was always a hunger in me to learn and explore different fields of law, owing to which I made it a point to intern and apply at a variety of organisations. I was fortunate to intern at a number of premier institutions such as Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC), Additional Solicitor General of India (ASG) Pinky Anand, Geeta Luthra, Hon’ble Justice Ravindra Bhat, Luthra & Luthra Law Offices, Jyoti Sagar Associates, PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt. Ltd., Karanjawala & Co., LexisNexis India etc.

 

You were the Convenor of Legal Entrepreneurship Clinic at ALS. Please share with us in detail, about the activities of the LEC.

The Legal Entrepreneurship Clinic is a cell run by the students of Amity Law School, Noida. It is the first ever entrepreneurship cell to be formed in any law school across India. The E-Clinic caters to the intellectual and innovative minds that aspire to become legal entrepreneurs and it aims to foster and promote entrepreneurial spirit amongst such students.

We at LEC organised workshops, panel discussions, seminars and competitions for aspiring entrepreneurs as an initiative to train and encourage their diverse and dormant talents. The Clinic endeavours to act as an incubator to the thoughts and ideas of aspiring lawyers, so as to make them prepared to be able to develop their ideas and concepts into practical business dimensions thereby helping them set up their own start-up. The Clinic works on the same objective as Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship, IIM Ahmedabad, whose main aim is to foster innovation-driven entrepreneurship.

As a Convenor of LEC, I organised various Wills Camps for the elderly residing in the jurisdiction of Noida, U.P.; panel discussions on the new Company Law Act, 2013 and the latest being a seminar on financial literacy called FLAP – Financial Literacy Awareness Program.

 

One of your last internships as a student was at LexisNexis India as a Marketing Trainee.  What made you shift from law to management?

Post my stint as a Campus Ambassador at Lawctopus, I applied to be a Student Ambassador at LexisNexis India in my fourth year of law school. Having been associated with LexisNexis India for an entire year, which is a leading legal, taxation and academic publisher, my inclination towards the organisation increased and I was interested in understanding how a publishing house really operates. During the final semester internship I applied for an internship with the LexisNexis India and joined the Marketing Team as a trainee.

The primary reason for this shift was my desire to explore the second half of my degree, “Business Administration”. LexisNexis India gave me the opportunity to work in the management domain, though within the legal sphere. Legal and managerial knowledge was essential to the job, and I was lucky to have a degree in both. As the final year was almost ending, I realized that I really did not have much enthusiasm in me for a litigation practice. I found litigation to be very procedural and mundane. Pursuing Corporate Law was another option for me, but I felt that it would restrict me to a very niche field. So I gradually drifted towards going for the Management field and challenge myself beyond my comfort zone.

Secondly, I have never supported the conventional view of necessarily practicing law after studying law. There are a plethora of avenues out there, waiting to be exploited. I always wanted to use my acquired legal skills in a business environment, my long term aim being to become an entrepreneur. I think law gives you the edge of knowing the regulatory framework well enough, understanding the compliances and understanding the statutory and other measures required and applying them to run a business. I believe people working in organizations in the top positions ought to have a decent understanding of the law, in order to manage business in their top capacities. Discovering a new avenue was my primary motivation in this journey.

 

You went on to join as a Marketing Executive with LexisNexis India. Please share with us in detail, your journey so far. What’s a typical work day like? Are there any set targets: numerical and otherwise, to be achieved periodically?

Over the five months’ experience working as a Marketing Executive with LexisNexis India, I have been fortunate to have an amazing and understanding Marketing Director in Mr. Vikesh Dhyani. He truly justifies the saying, “Don’t pick a job. Pick a Boss. Your first boss is the biggest factor in your career success. A boss who doesn’t trust you won’t give you opportunities to grow.”- William Raduchel.

There was a major acquisition by LexisNexis India of Universal Law Publishing (ULP) on my joining. I was given the task to integrate the marketing activities of both the companies and transform the marketing activities of Universal Law Publishing on the lines of LexisNexis India.

The job profile mainly involves Print Marketing involving supporting the Marketing Campaign for ULP books (including bare acts) and ultimately take responsibility for the promotional materials and activities with a full marketing mix across a range of campaigns and implement the complete marketing plan; writing, producing and proofreading promotional material; implementing and developing regular newsletter updates; designing, collating, producing and mailing of key catalogues throughout the year.

The job profile also involves Online and Social Media Marketing involving building and managing the company’s social media profiles and presence including on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and additional channels; running regular social promotions and campaigns and tracking their success for ULP products; exploring new ways to engage and identify new social networks to reach out to target buyers. The profile also involves regular events and travel.

I have been also fortunate to work for the Strategy Operations Team involving mapping of products of both the companies i.e. Lexis Nexis India and Universal Law Publishing and carrying out analysis about the strengths and weaknesses of both the companies.

 

How is your legal education helping you with your present work responsibilities?

The majority of the sectors like Publishing, Telecom, Banking, Real Estate, Infrastructure, Pharmacy, Trading, Aviation and several other sectors are highly regulated. A person managing these businesses and at a decision making position needs to understand the law, in order to take saner decisions and understand the advice given by the Legal Department. It is important to understand the reasons of the regulations and compliances as well as the consequences of non-adherence. I believe a top management individual would greatly benefit from knowing the law and similarly a law firm Partner level individual would benefit from a formal background in management.

According to my experience at LexisNexis India, law can be used to work in every field. It is an all-encompassing profession. Legal education helps an individual with professional ethics, ability to research and ability to work for long hours. Coming from a legal background, I am able to place myself in the shoes of end consumers which are the law students and understand their requirements. I am able to contribute towards formulating the marketing plans for the law students and provide my insights.

LexisNexis India also runs an active Student Ambassador Program. These ambassadors act as our face and representatives in law schools all over India. Having a fair idea of law colleges all over India, I have been able to handle the strong team of 30 Student Ambassadors all over India.

 

Please tell us about your community service experiences. Are there any social causes that you actively support? How important is pro bono work for a law graduate?

A number of social causes concern me. These include the protection of civil liberties, poverty alleviation and access to justice. I do try to help where I can, though this is primarily through my time. Monetarily, I am not in a position yet to offer active support to the causes I believe in.

Pro Bono work is an important element of a lawyer’s life. It is often said that one represents bigger clients to fund the bigger cases, the latter involving pro bono work and issues of social importance. It is, though, an activity that one may only indulge in when one is financially able to. Once a lawyer has a robust practice, pro bono work seems more realistic. New advocates will be struggling to make ends meet, making pro bono work rather difficult.

I was an active member of Amity Legal Aid providing legal aid to the needy and later joined the Legal Entrepreneurship Clinic which involved drafting of wills for the elderly at nominal rates and later getting the wills registered with the Registrars speedily.

 

If given an option to pursue MBA, would you aim for the premier management institutions such as IIMs, XLRI, ISB etc. or would you prefer international exposure as some foreign universities provide students with an LLM-MBA dual degree too?

The idea of studying at a foreign institution is indeed exciting. The faculty, resources, degree of professionalism and indeed the ‘brand value’, all arguably trump Indian institutions. If I find myself financially capable of pursuing a degree abroad, I will not hesitate to do so. Since dual law and management degrees at the world’s best colleges cost upward of one crore rupees, a scholarship seems like the only plausible option.

In the meantime primarily my focus is to gain valuable work experience and prepare for MBA entrance examinations such as CAT and GMAT. Premier institutions like IIMs and ISB are surely the institutions I would like to go to, to polish my management knowledge and skills.

 

What will be your parting message to our readers?

I have been fortunate to work under or work with associates, seniors, bosses and colleagues who made me work hard, helped me push boundaries and stretch myself beyond the call of a regular job. Consider yourself lucky if you have such company. There is no fun in living a life that you don’t feel proud of, a life where you have just passed your time. Build a list of accomplishments behind you. The learning you will get in the process will transform you and your thinking process completely. That’s what will make you a leader ultimately. There are no short cuts to success. The more grind you undergo – the stronger you become. The hardest aspect of managing your own self-development is that the biggest opportunities for improvement all exist outside your comfort zone. Since the risk of failure is obviously greater, finding the confidence to accept that risk can often be the largest obstacle to achieving your goals.

Law is not easy. There will be more than one occasion where you will question your choices and feel like giving up, even in your first year. Therefore, I believe one should only pursue it if one is passionate, if one truly loves the field. To put it simply, when you have no money and haven’t slept for a week, your love for law will give you all the strength you need.

 

 

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