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The Recruiters is a weekly piece aimed at helping law students fathom what it takes to gain employment in a field of law they wish to pursue. This week, Nishant Parikh, Recruitment Partner at Trilegal, 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?
Nishant Parikh: We don’t have a specific policy (or a view) on the weightage we give to the various aspects of an applicant’s overall achievements. We prefer well-rounded candidates who have demonstrated excellence in at least one sphere. Thus, we would, for instance, be very happy to consider an applicant who has average grades/CGPA, but has excelled in mooting or published articles in peer-reviewed publications. We view an application in totality, and consider the applicant’s overall successes in fields/areas that interest the applicant.
B&B: To what extent are students expected to know the law?
Nishant Parikh: We expect an applicant to know the basic principles of contract law, and other ‘first principles’ that are taught in law school. Here, we feel that a conceptual understanding of the basic legal principles is more critical than just knowledge.
As mentioned earlier, we do not view academics as the sole (or the most important) criteria on which to take a decision on applications. We look for a mix of qualities – it could be leadership qualities, a strong academic record, great mooting experiences, excellent publications etc.
Applicants should try and demonstrate exceptional performance in at least one sphere (that could be academics, publications, mooting, internships etc.)
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?
Nishant Parikh: We actually don’t have a high attrition rate. Almost all of our new recruits stay with the firm for at least 3-4 years if not more. At the point of recruitment, it’s difficult to make a prediction on whether a candidate will stay on for more than a year.
We do have a process of trying to identify linkages and ensure that we slot new recruits into cities and roles that are best suited for them. For instance, a person whose family is based in Mumbai is more likely to stay on in the Mumbai office as compared to any of our other offices. We also take into account practice area preferences/ internship experiences when we allocate new recruits to teams within the firm. Overall, we are quite happy with the way we have managed this process over the past few years.
B&B: Does the University a student studied from matter?
Nishant Parikh: Not particularly. We are more interested in the quality of the candidate, and to that end, there is no ‘preference’ between universities.
While we would have liked to visit more campuses than we currently do, the fact is that we have a specific hiring target for each year, and more often than not, we find that target can be met from the first 6 or 7 universities that we go to.
That said, we also make several recruitment offers from our internship pool, and we encourage candidates from all universities to apply for a spot in our internship programme.
B&B: Can you recollect any interesting interviews you’ve had over the years?
Nishant Parikh: There have been several interesting interviews over the years. For instance, I recall interviews where students have had a lengthy discussion with us on derivatives (which is not something you’d expect a student to know), indicated a keen desire to do pro-bono work whilst with the firm (we hired her), and explained the finer nuances of Indian politics (we hired him too!).
Above all, I think the interviews I remember most fondly are those of associates who have now been with the firm for a very long time. Those are worth remembering because they were the first interactions I had with them, and I am constantly amazed with how much they have developed as lawyers and as people. I feel happy to know that we played a small role in the entire process.