Shwetank Tripathi is an alumnus of the RMLNLU, Lucknow of the 2012 graduating batch. As a fresh law graduate, he started working in Zeus Law Associates and within a year was made part of the team looking after matters before the Company Law Board, New Delhi as well as the Indirect Tax Team. His current work profile includes client-coordination, research on legal issues, drafting, filing, briefing Senior Counsels and strategy-making.
In this interview he tells us about:
- His first few months as a fresh law graduate
- His experience in arguing matters as an advocate when he was fresh out of law school
- How experience at an internship is different from working at a firm as a full-time employee
- The experience and challenges of briefing senior counsels
Please tell us about your law school days at RMLNLU. How did you balance academics and co-curricular activities?
My 5 years at RMLNLU have been a huge learning curve for me, both academically as well as personally. Ours being a relatively new college, with only one batch senior to us, exposed us to myriad opportunities. Academics and co-curricular activities couldbe easily balanced by maintaining regularity and paying equal attention to both the areas.
You have published papers in various prestigious journals. Can you give us tips to ace the art of paper writing?
I believe that article-writing is a simple yet tricky task. It is very important to keep a track on the contemporary legal developments. One needs to pick a contemporary issue of interest, research upon the past legal position, analyse the present development, foresee a roadmap ahead and compile all those aspects together.
How important do you think CPI/CGPA is in terms of one’s CV value? Is it an important factor during the recruitment process?
(Shwetank had a fantastic CPI of 8.89/10)
Well, no one has ever asked me yet as to what my CPI was. But having said that, I also believe that having a good grade is a safe bet. Most firms take into account grades as one of the significant factors during the initial screening. However, CPI alone cannot see you through; it has to be backed by co-curricular activities, and more importantly, the work experience at your internships.
All your internships have been at top-notch firms.How did you go about securinggood internships and what advice would you give to young students reading this interview who want internships in topfirms?
(Shwetank has interned at firms like Dua Associates, Amarchand, Karanjawala and Fox & Mandal)
I have been fortunate enough to be able to secureinternships at known places. I could get most of the internships through friends and contacts. For securing an internship, it is important to prepare a well-written résumé, and maintain a constant follow-up with the concerned HR Department of the firm where the internship is sought.
How is the experience at an internship different from working at a firm as a full-time employee?
Working as an intern and as an employee is a different ball-game altogether, in terms of the expectations and responsibilities. However, my internships have a big role to play in the career choice that I made for myself. I could get a first-hand experience of the challenges lying ahead, which helped me make an informed choice.
How did you secure a job in Zeus Law fresh after your graduation.
I had interned at Zeus for 4 months in my last year of law school. After graduating when I applied for the job, it was merely an informal meet-up and I began working immediately after college was over. The recruitment process involves preliminary screening of your résumé and subsequent personal interview.
How tough were the first 6 months at your workplace?
First six months are tough because you know nothing of the profession. But hard work and attentive attitude makes things simpler in no time.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities? What is the most challenging aspect of your job? How has the experience been so far?
Daily responsibilities include coordination with clients, drafting and attending matters before various courts. Most challenging aspect of a law firm job is the management of time. My experience so far has been enthralling.
What is your work profile like right now?
My current work profile entails overall responsibility of matters, including client-coordination, research on legal issues, drafting, filing, briefing Senior Counsels and attending various courts.
Do you think that the curriculum of law schools can prepare the students for real practice?
The law school curriculum and the actual practice are very different. However, it is very important to have a sound academic base, because once we start working, there is always a dearth of time to spend on the basics. I believe law school curriculum should be made more practice-oriented.
How has your experience been in arguing matters as a fresh-out-of-law-school advocate? Are there any memorable instances you can share with us?
Well, arguing matters before courts has always been the most thrilling part of mylife after law school. Although in a law firm practice you don’t get to argue that often, but I have been fortunate to get many such opportunities. Every instance when you werefully prepared, presented your case to your best and got a favourable order is a memorable instance.
What are the benefits and challenges of briefing Senior Counsels? Do you believe they are able to add value to your clients’ arguments?
Having a Senior Counsel on board is a big help for us as we get to learn various ways in which a case can be strategized to serve the best interest of the client. Senior Counsels definitely add value to the case prepared by us.
What according to you makes for a strong firm culture? What do you believe leads to the high attrition rates in law firms?
A strong firm culture mandatorily requires cohesion between the team members. I believe high attrition rates in law firms are mostly attributable to the challenging nature of the job.
Is work-life balance an issue?
At times, we are compelled to sacrifice on the personal front. But, there are also good leisure times. It is all about what one wants in life, and managing the personal and professional commitments with smart planning.
If you could re-live your 5 years in law school, is there anything you would do differently?
My 5 years at law school have been pretty satisfying. However, if I am given an opportunity to re-live those five years, I would aspire to read more.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I do not believe much in foresightedness. I aspire to keep up the motivation and continue to work hard.
Lastly, what would be your message for our readers?
My experience being limited to law firms, I would like to share with such aspirants that it is the easiest of the careers to pursue. Hard work and dedication is obviously required, but once you are sure you want to do this, everything else would gradually fall into place.