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The Recruiters is a series aimed at helping law students fathom what it takes to gain employment in a field of law they wish to pursue. This week, Hardeep Sachdeva, Partner at AZB & Partners (Delhi), talks to Bar & Bench about the qualities his firm looks for in prospective corporate lawyers, how the firm retains employees and more.
Bar & Bench: The general criteria looked at in CVs include CGPA, Internship Experience, Moot Courts, publications etc. In what order would you prioritize these?
Hardeep Sachdeva: The key criteria are intelligence level, communication skills and relevant experience of the lawyer; and to get a job, it is equally important as to how these are presented in an interview. We do look at the CGPA and other achievements of the candidate like publications, moot court and internship experience. While we do not necessarily prioritize one against others in assessing these parameters of a candidate, we do evaluate these qualities comprehensively to get on-board a talented lawyer.
B&B: Does the university a candidate studied in matter?
Hardeep Sachdeva: The value addition of the university or college a candidate attended is embedded into him/ her, but what is relevant is how well such a candidate is able to, or is capable of, unlocking it. Therefore, the university or law college a candidate studied is not “the determining factor” to hire such a candidate. If we are hiring an experienced lawyer (anything above 2-3 years), then the relevance of experience and overall skill level of a candidate will matter the most. As regards fresh law graduate hiring, we do encourage a mix of lawyers across various law universities and law colleges without any priority to any one of them over the other.
B&B: To what extent are interview candidates expected to know the law?
Hardeep Sachdeva,: First of all, every candidate should know what he or she has stated in the CV; in particular if any transaction or opinion or any other matter etc. is specifically referred to, then the candidate should be fully prepared to provide answer to all relevance and details of the same. It is not expected that a candidate does not answer on the experience or strengths written in his/ her CV.
Secondly, every candidate is expected to be technically sound; as an example if the application is for the Corporate M&A team, then knowledge of FDI Regulations, Companies Act and some experience will certainly come handy. The same will apply for other teams as well like the Competition team or IPR team etc.
Additionally, an all-inclusive presentation, clear communication and a strong desire to work with the firm are basic benchmarks that a candidate should be able to express in an interview for a favourable decision.
B&B: How would you determine whether a fresh recruit will stay at the firm for more than a year or so?
Hardeep Sachdeva,: Every lawyer is a prime asset to the firm he/she is associated with; and we strongly believe in that. When we hire a fresh recruit, we need not judge or determine whether he/she will stay [for a long time] with the firm or not. Our true test begins when he/she becomes part of the firm; once part of the firm, we need to ensure that every lawyer is happy here. We also try to ensure that the person has been provided with the best of opportunities of learning and getting trained in the early years, along with best of work exposure and compensation. [Reducing] retention is a continuous process and if we keep working on these parameters constantly and in the interest of all, and if we gain confidence of our people, we shall have a longer association with every one of our lawyers.
B&B: What is the annual salary a fresh recruit can expect? How does the bonus component work at your firm?
Hardeep Sachdeva,: We offer an annual package of 11.2 lakhs to fresh recruit. The focus of the firm is to train young lawyers and provide them with best of opportunities, and therefore we do not necessarily follow any stringent evaluation for bonus of a fresh law graduate.