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The Recruiters is a piece aimed at helping law students fathom what it takes to gain employment in a field of law they wish to pursue. This week, Feroz Dubash, Partner at Talwar Thakore & Associates, talks to Bar & Bench about the qualities his firm looks for in prospective corporate lawyers, what recruits can expect at the firm 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?
Feroz Dubash: We ask all candidates to fill out an application form which asks a series of questions designed to tell us more about the personality, ability and motivation of the candidate. These forms are looked at very closely, and I would say form a very significant part of what we look at. The form tells us a lot about the qualities we are looking for both obviously (by the questions asked) as well as more subtly.
Beyond that, CGPA and internship experience are probably what are looked at by us the most. They are indicators of an interest in and aptitude for the law and, in the case of internship experience, an indicator of how serious someone is about working at a firm such as ours. We know that these are not perfect indicators for what we are looking for and keep an open mind. For example, someone who has only done one internship at a law firm but can demonstrate in other ways that he or she is genuinely interested in working at a firm and has thought through their choice convincingly is fine.
Finally, students who intern with us are automatically interviewed by us and we do put a lot of emphasis on internships with us.
Bar & Bench: Does the university a candidate studied in matter?
Feroz Dubash: Yes.
Bar & Bench: To what extent are candidates expected to know the law?
Feroz Dubash: While no one expects a candidate to be the best lawyer ever immediately after leaving law school, candidates are expected to have sound knowledge of basic concepts and the basic structure of the regulatory landscape. We test this, as well as general commerciality, through a case study during the interview.
Bar & Bench: How would you determine whether a fresh recruit will stay at the firm for more than a year or so?
Feroz Dubash: We consider every recruit of ours in Bombay and Delhi as a potential future partner. We have to look very closely at whether someone will stay with us for the long term during the recruitment process.
You get a sense of whether someone will stay by looking at what they have done in the past, how interested they are in the commercial world and their reasons for practicing law at a firm like ours. It is not easy to tell. For example, a candidate who has seriously considered becoming a banker or a counsel or something completely different and then decided to work at a law firm may be more motivated or likely to stay for a long time than someone who has not gone through that thought process. Equally, someone who has demonstrated a real enthusiasm for corporate law through internships or articles and persuaded us of this during the interview may also be a good bet.
There are two sides to this though. While you can try and pick motivated candidates, you also have to keep them motivated and happy while at the firm. We try and do this by ensuring a broad range of work across all practice areas and all seniors (we have no teams, with the exception of competition law based out of Delhi), a professional and friendly work environment with an open door policy, an emphasis on training (our associates participate in Linklaters’ training programmes) and lots of senior involvement.
Our attrition rate is low, so I would like to think we are managing both attracting the right candidates and then providing a conducive work environment for them.
Bar & Bench: Can you recall any interesting interviews you’ve had over the years?
Feroz Dubash: There have been a few, but none that I would be willing to share publicly!