Srirang Sapre is a student of GNLU, batch of 2015. During his time as an undergraduate, he has interned with the likes of AMSS, Wadia Ghandy & Co., Jani & Co., Y J Trivedi & Co., among others . He has received a pre-placement offer from AMSS.
In this interview we talk to him about:
- Maintaining a good CGPA and building a CV
- Working diligently and receiving a callback
- Sailing through the interview and getting a PPO from AMSS
Tell us about your pre-college life. Did you have lawyers in your family?
I was lucky to be born and brought in the beautiful city of Ahmedabad. I did my schooling from Best Higher Secondary School, Maninagar, Ahmedabad. I being from a school which had always pressed on academics and extra-curricular activities equally made it easier in later years for me because I was competent to handle both academics and extra-curricular activities together. As far as having a law background goes I have none. I am the only one in my family to have chosen a career in law.
Should scores of SSC and HSC affect your decision to take up law course?
Personally, I do not think percentage scored in SSC and HSC should have any bearing on decision of getting into a law course. Getting into law only requires you to have a brain that can think logically and rationally. Apart from that you need to have the dedication and should be willing to work really hard to achieve your goals, that is I think what you should look for when you think about pursuing a career in law. I don’t think there is much of an edge for students having Commerce background or Science or Humanities. But every once in a while I have found myself to getting hang of few topics taught in law school better and faster because the basic concepts of Commerce grasped in my 10+2 education were strong. Further if you are interested in Corporate Law or taking up Company Secretary Course I think having Commerce background will help a lot.
How should a fresher go about his initial journey in a law school?
When you step into National Law University as a fresher it’s a start of a whole new chapter in your life. It is a bittersweet moment because you are happy that you cracked the CLAT and terrified that others around you have done the same too and that to may be with better scores. But you soon get used to this new world and its rules. Also be very cautious while choosing your peer group as in a Law School getting carried away or swayed is easy. Friends are very important during your journey here. Some of those friends will be for life.
How should one prepare for continuous evaluations and end semester examinations?
Doing smart work is more important and not hard work. One should always bear in mind that there is no straight-jacket formula to go about all subjects offered in a particular semester. You need to think on your feet and assess as to what all is required by the subject and what all points does the faculty expect from students to be covered in the answer. I also recommend group study since it is beneficial in a few law subjects which have vast syllabus and it is not always possible to complete every bit of it single-handedly. Scoring consistently well is extremely important. It should not be a one-semester-show but that also does not mean you need to top every semester, you just have to maintain your average and strive to make it better and better as you make your progress in the law school.
How important is it to get published in order to build a CV?
I think to having an all round CV is very important. A couple of articles published in reputed journals/newsletter/websites will take you a long way. All articles can have something to do with any of the various law subjects that you study. However if you want you can also try to streamline your C.V. in a particular direction by writing on similar areas of law. I for one have written on very diverse topics ranging from entrepreneurship to anti-piracy. So to sum it up I feel that getting “articles” published and not just “legal articles” will help in the long run. This shall also help you to achieve command over English language which is like inevitably important in legal profession.
You have been a member of multiple committees while in law school. Do you think these enhanced your skill-sets?
It is important to lay strong foundation to aid your progress in crucial final years. According to me being a member is various committees is equally important along with constant focus on academics. There are many on-field experiences and instances which makes every committee I have joined a memorable experience for me. Instead of giving specific occasions as to where it helped me I would rather state that it has immensely helped me to develop my overall personality especially on social front. Also the level of exposure that you get while working in each of these committees is superb. Lastly, it is again a matter of choice you may stick to certain committee(s) or join no committee at all but personally I think positions of responsibility adds considerable credit and weightage to the C.V. which recruiters do look at as well.
Can you tell us about your internship experience?
(Srirang has interned with top tier firms such as Udwadia Udeshi, Amarchand, Wadia Gandhy.)
Frankly speaking, coming from non-legal background it was quite a herculean task for me to secure such internships. Going to any of these firms before III year is not that productive both for the firm and the student since you are still learning commercial laws and are not aware of its intricate topics and hence once I was done with my sixth Semester I started applying personally via emails and following up on status of the application via calls. However it becomes simpler to secure internship in your IV and V year since Internship and Placement Division (IPSD) at GNLU takes up the task of placing students at various firms and I am extremely thankful to IPSD for facilitating me in securing internship at these top-tier firms that eventually culminated into a PPO from AMSS, Mumbai.
Did your law school education find relevance with the kind of work you were required to do at law firms?
I was lucky to have seniors to help me plan my internships and other things from time to time. But, I was clear on one thing that I will not just sit idle in any of the breaks and hence made all efforts to secure some or other internship. One should be ready to intern at middle and local firms too, trust me your get to learn a lot. Law school education did help me to start off my work in the law firms but I certainly think many practical aspects can be brought in the syllabus or the teaching methodology across all the NLUs. By that I mean to say for an instance while teaching the transfer of property act some aspects of stamp duty calculation etc can be also made known to the students. However the notes that I used to take down in the class came very handy when I was given a completely new topic to research on. So yes law school education is the first step to the research accomplishment ladder and then it depends on person to person to dig deeper.
What kind of work did you have to do during your internships?
Since I started off with an NGO internship, a property law firm and then went onto intern at top tier firms of India that itself reflects that I had excellent opportunities’ coming my way to work on diverse topics such as alternative dispute resolution laws, property law, admiralty law, state specific statutes and of course corporate law to name a few. Well, as far as memorable moments goes highlighting a couple of moments would render others as less memorable and cause injustice too hence every internship that I undertook had memorable moments as each day I got to learn something new of which I was absolutely clueless until just the night before.
Have you ever seriously considered engaging in pro-bono humanitarian work?
Yes. When you get into this one of the most glamorous, challenging and powerful profession and dream of yourself getting close to most prominent lawyers, honorable judges and social activists who fight for making India a better place to live such a thought would naturally cross your mind/ and I am no different. I got this very good opportunity to work on something unique and i.e. framing guidelines for food waste management which is currently very serious issues at global and national level as well. I think if this problem is curbed then social evils like poverty, starvation, malnutrition can be reduced greatly and that shall eventually raise India’s HDI. I do wish to continue giving back to the society in whatever way I can contribute in future also.
Did you ever plan as a young law student to pursue any socially relevant legal work?
Certainly I had thought about it and I did take a step by joining Legal Services Committee at GNLU which has been established to render legal assistance to the section of society which is uninformed about legal system or rights as the case may be. I did see ground-reality at villages around my hometown and such low levels of legal awareness existing there moved me. I did try and assist in the process as much as I could. Further, in future as well I look forward to making myself available for social work opportunities that come my way.
What do you think an intern should accomplish in the course of their internship to get a “callback” or “PPO”?
I was directly shortlisted for a PPO after my first internship itself at AMSS but I had received a call back at other firm where I interned in my third year hence the dynamics are pretty much the same but the difficulty level gets tougher and tougher as you intern in tier-one firms. For bagging a ‘call back’ or ‘PPO’ there is no simple formula since every single firm look out for different set of qualities in the interns that they select. Plus nowadays every firm has started conducting telephonic or VC interview in intern selection process hence it is very important for each of the applicant to be well-prepared and impress at the internship interview itself. Though I personally do not believe in the saying- “First impression is last impression” but yes first impression do have a lasting impression and hence it is important and sometimes if you are not lucky enough circumstances might just not give you second chance, moreover an impressive first shot can do wonders for you. Nevertheless the qualities like punctuality, sincerity, humility, thinking on the feet attitude and last but not the least – being genuine (yes genuine not genius) will give you the upward thrust on your ladder to success.
How important according to you are grades in securing a job?
Who doesn’t love to score good marks? I guess each student prays to God when exams are around to bless him with good marks in the examination. I must confess I was obsessed to score better marks in every examination and I honestly think controlled obsession for good things always works in your favour and is sometimes necessary to promote healthy competition but you should never let it turn into jealously in case you don’t score well. I was fortunate enough that my efforts were suitably rewarded and I pulled up my average higher. CGPA is not the only parameter for securing the job but I won’t be wrong or unjustified to state it is a very important parameter. On the other side not being able to top is also not a lost affair there are ample of firms that look at consistency and not the always high going CGPA graph.
Did you have to undergo an interview before securing your PPO?
You have to undergo interview process and not just that, there might be other layers of shortlisting before one reaches the personal interview level. Tailoring your CV is an extremely important task for any candidate sitting for a firm interview. For interview you need to be thorough with every word printed on your CV and if you can answer any question from and on the basis of CV I think the game is pretty much on your side. Asking someone to take mock interviews also helps to get over nervousness. CV is a tool that will help you market yourself better just think of it as a brochure that describes/explains/markets you in the best manner possible .One small mistake or bluff on your CV can make you pay heavy cost and ruin four to five years of hard work in the interview room. Drafting CV is also an art as you need to make sure as to what firm is looking for and highlight those points in your CV.
Lastly, what would be your message to our readers?
My message would be that first learn the rules of the game. Remember that nothing is too BIG or too SMALL to be accomplished and ensure that whatever you do, you do it with all your heart or else all efforts would count for nothing. To conclude trust your guts. Maintain a good CGPA. Strive to be “Jack of all and master of one or more laws”. There is no harm/shame in taking help of your elders, seniors, batchmates and the faculty of course for any turbulence. Be determined towards the goal and keep putting in cent percent efforts and success will certainly knock your door.