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The Recruiters is a weekly piece that helps law students fathom what it takes to gain employment in a field of law they wish to pursue. This week, AZB & Partners’ freshers Recruitment Partner Sai Krishna Bharathan talks to Bar & Bench about the qualities his firm looks for in prospective corporate lawyers, his experiences at interviews over the years and more.
Bar & Bench: Some of the criteria considered for recruitment include CGPA, internships, and publications. In what order are they prioritized?
Sai Krishna Bharathan: The two most important criteria are the CGPA and Internships. We place a lot of emphasis on internship experience because of the amount of practical experience you get from it.
B&B: To what extent is a student expected to know the law?
Sai Krishna Bharathan: Definitely not as much as an Associate would be expected to know, but the basics have to be strong. For instance, principles of contract law, property and corporate Law in general; we don’t expect them to know the nuts and bolts of things, since they don’t have the practical experience.
B&B: Do oratory skills matter?
Sai Krishna Bharathan: Absolutely. At least in our firm, people get drafted into transactions pretty early. This means that they will have to face clients early on as compared to lawyers in many other firms. What is critical is the person’s ability to hold their own in the course of a transaction and in such client facing role.
B&B: Given the high attrition rates of top law firms, how do you determine whether a fresh recruit will stay at the firm for more than a year or so?
Sai Krishna Bharathan: Our attrition rates at the junior levels are by no means high. The main reason for leaving is to pursue LL.M.s, and that has been a recent phenomenon. The maximum we can do is to ask the potential recruits if they have any LL.M. plans. Obviously, in the interview, nobody says that they have such plans. We have had instances of people suddenly putting in their papers after one year to go for an LL.M. Losing people to other firms is not an issue that we have had at the junior levels.
B&B: Does the University a student studied from matter?
Sai Krishna Bharathan: Not particularly, but we generally tend to recruit from NLSIU, NALSAR, NUJS, and GLC Mumbai. We have also recruited from NLU, Delhi, Symbiosis and HNLU Raipur. We have had some good experiences with students from certain colleges, and we mostly stick to those colleges.
B&B: What weightage do Moot Court competitions carry?
Sai Krishna Bharathan: As a person who goes to campus to recruit, I don’t think it plays a role at all.
B&B: Can you recollect any interesting interviews you’ve had over the years?
Sai Krishna Bharathan: Each interview is interesting in its own way, and one thing in common is that most of them are quite terrified, barring the hyper-confident ones! If they are confident, it is a major plus and that would clearly give that candidate an edge over others, assuming the other factors such as CGPA and internships that I mentioned are also satisfied.