Are you part of the Graduating Batch of 2020?
Are you watching with despair how Covid-19 has brought the entire world to a halt? How workplaces are closed, pay is being cut, business has stopped and people are prisoners in their own homes. Even when the nationwide lock down will be lifted in India, the novel Corona Virus will continue to be present in the world, requiring everyone to exercise extreme caution and follow strict hygiene protocols in their everyday lives. Life might not go back to what it was just two months ago. Needless to say, the economy in India and elsewhere will enter a huge recession phase. It may seem like the end of your aspirations, especially if you are poised to graduate out of law school in 2020.
Do not worry. This adversity may turn out to be an opportunity of learning, growth and success. for you Here is why I feel there is a silver lining for you even in this gloomy scenario:
1.Take a leaf out of the batch of 2009
I was part of the graduating batch of 2009 when the world was at the peak of its last recession. Despite being part of a premiere law school which boast of 100% placement in all the preceding years, our official recruitment process could place only single digit number of students. A combination of UK based law firm offers, pre-placement offers and outside-campus recruitment process finally saw a decent number of placements before the entire batch passed out. However it was nowhere close to the previous batches’ numbers.
We all celebrated our 10 years reunion in 2019 and guess what, all of us are gainfully employed in diverse sectors, doing a wide variety of work in areas like refugee law, public policy, global finance, environmental law and so on. Some of us have also built very successful private practice and we have the highest number of Supreme Court Advocate-on-Records among all graduating batches. Many of us have been made partners in law firms. One of us is a judge. Some of us are successful civil servants. Some are poised to earn their doctorate. One of us is an entrepreneur.
So you see, adversity in our circumstances at the time of graduation didn’t stop any of us from achieving what we wanted.
2. Take a moment to introspect
Your classes are suspended. You are cooped up in your room at your home or hostel, not able to socialise like a normal college-goer. You have finished giving your last examination online. You are done binge-watching all that was worth binge-watching.
Now what do you do?
This is the perfect time to introspect about what you really want to do in your life.
Are you really looking forward to the law firm job?
Are you worried about the uncertainty of litigation practice that you had planned?
How will your LLM course slated to start in Fall this year be impacted?
You might come up with surprising answers as to what you really want to do.
How about trying something new? eg. the Judge Advocate General (JAG) exam to be a lawyer in the Armed Forces. Or start your own company in the field of legal tech or education or any area that has a gap which needs filling. Or look for a course which will allow you to do an LLM and an MBA together. Or start an NGO for a cause you believe in. The sky is truly the limit.
3. It’s time to upskill
I am sure you are in no mood to learn something law-related, having completed five years of study. However, your success as a legal professional will not only depend on your knowledge of law but on a host of other soft and hard skills.
Here is an article where I discuss the essential skills needed to be a successful lawyer.
Are you not confident in public speaking yet want to argue in court? Take up a public speaking course from the numerous options in apps like Udemy, Skillshare and all.
Are you wondering how to set yourself apart from your peer? Find out how personal branding works.
A tip on personal branding: Figure out how you want to be “known” and work towards it. Read the book called Known by Mark Schaefer.
Worried about missing out on fitness once you start the hectic law firm job? Earn a diploma in Nutrition and Fitness from thousands of choices available online and implement in your life.
Thinking of a side hustle to tide over the initial difficult phase? Learn digital marketing.
Not keen on the usual job options available? Try content writing on legal topics.
Want to be better prepared in the workplace? Learn a practical legal course or even better, read my blog for free.
This article on why you should learn how to draft a contract is a good start.
4. Hobbies are necessary, too
Our hobbies have a way of falling low on our priority amidst the various happenings of a law school. We fill our plates with more exciting activities and forget the simple pleasure we derived from our simple hobbies like painting, music, writing, gardening, cooking and so on. Once you enter the workforce, you can kiss your hobbies goodbye for good. But we all know that our souls need nourishment too. This is the time to rekindle the passion, so that you can continue to pursue them even when you start your job.
Ten years from now, when you will be an accomplished lawyer and a happy human being, please remember to drop by here and let me know. Trust me, it would not matter whether you graduated in 2020.
5. Embrace the new normal
This is the new normal – social distancing, using facial masks in public places, less instances of face-to-face meeting, court hearings through video conferencing, communication over emails and promotion of your professional services over the web to the extent permissible under the law. You have to adapt to it, so that you can come out victorious.
Even during these uncertain times, legal work is being generated. Unprecedented crisis is giving rise to unexpected issues in all business, needing them to contact their lawyers.
Force Majeure clause in contracts require interpretation.
I have written an article on how to draft a robust force majeure clause here.
Termination of contracts or refusal to pay lease rental will result in advisory work and litigation.
Small companies might end up being insolvent, leading to more opportunities in the NCLT.
Technology in the field of law is the necessity of the hour.
Look and you shall find a wide range of new opportunities in the legal field post Covid-19.
I know it can be hard to be optimistic if you are going through a difficult phase professionally amidst this Covid-19 pandemic. I know many, with years of experience, have lost their jobs only because their companies are restructuring and have scrapped their role. I am in touch with some of them over Linkedin messaging and I am trying to help them as much. But when you are about to graduate in 2020 and don’t have an offer in hand or your joining is postponed, the future can seem bleak. Always remember, it’s a matter of few months. Soon you will be on the path to your success, and who knows, some of you may turn towards a completely alternative path and have great stories to tell some years later.
All the best for your professional life. May you succeed despite whatever odds the world throws at you.
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