In this interview Ms. Preena Salgia an alumnus of 2015 batch of National Law Institute University, Bhopal discussed about her experience in Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas and also about the preliminary requirements for a fresh graduate to join a tier 1 law firm. She further discussed career in Alternative Dispute Resolution and global scope in ADR. She also shared insight over the lateral placement policies of Tier I law firms and guided about the further opportunities in case a student couldn’t make through campus placement. She further addressed legal areas which might evolve in coming years and provided supplementary options to cope with the monetary uncertainty to survive in initial years of practice. She has been interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Avni Jain who is currently pursuing Law from PIMR, Indore.
Link of the Video interview can be accessed Here
1. Please introduce yourself to our readers?
I am a commercial dispute resolution lawyer. I graduated from NLIU, Bhopal in 2015 and thereafter worked in Mumbai with the disputes team of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas and Doijode Associates. Currently I am practicing as a counsel in the High Court of M.P. (Bench at Indore).
2. After your graduation you began working with Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, (a tier 1 law firm) please tell us how you got the opportunity to work with CAM & your experience with aforesaid law firm?
After my law school, I started working with a firm in Delhi which had a great corporate practice. But since my inclination was dispute resolution, I kept looking out for opportunities in that field. So, when I got a call from the disputes team at CAM Mumbai, I jumped at the opportunity.
My time at CAM was nothing short of memorable. It instilled a lot of work discipline in me and introduced me to the practice of domestic and international arbitration. I got the opportunity to work with seniors who were quite accomplished in that field. I was also fortunate to work on some high-stake litigation and even got to brief a renowned Senior Counsel of Singapore in an SIAC Arbitration. My time at the firm also taught me the importance of accuracy and precision (before sending even a single email it would be looked at by about 3 people), the importance of continuing education and the importance of writing. I look back at my time in CAM very fondly.
After quitting CAM, I worked with Mr. Shrikant Doijode who was a wonderful mentor and human being. I got to work on some very interesting arbitrations and litigations with him (including one arbitration which concerned the leak of a Bollywood film!). His untimely demise last year left many in grief, including myself. Soon after, I started my practice as a counsel in the High Court of M.P. (bench at Indore).
3. What are the preliminary requirements for a fresh graduate to join a tier 1 law firm? What law firms generally expect from their prospective candidates?
While recruiting freshers from college campuses, firms consider aspects like your grades, co-curriculars and knowledge in your field of choice. If you have built up your profile in a particular area of law, that can give you an edge over the others.
Even if such firms do not come to your campus, you can start your career elsewhere and apply to these firms after gaining relevant work experience.
4. What role does legal research play during law graduation?
I believe students should use the opportunities they get in college to explore different areas of law and then decide the ones they would want to pursue exclusively. Legal research which students end up doing, either through moots, internships, paper publications, law school projects, etc., help them in this endeavour and they should take these up very seriously.
5. Seeing that you’re a commercial dispute resolution lawyer (specialised in arbitration law), please guide us about the career in ADR, initial prerequisites, and essential course of action which a law student can follow right from the law school so as to pursue a career in ADR?
Within ADR, at present, arbitration offers the maximum scope for lawyers, both in India and outside. For students who wish to pursue arbitration, it is essential to start building up their profiles with arbitration related experience. Internships with firms or counsels who primarily work in arbitration, with retired judges who are appointed as arbitrators and with arbitral institutions, are options which students should consider. Students can also take up online certificate courses on arbitration and participate in arbitration moots (like the NLS International Arbitration Moot, Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, Frankfurt Investment Arbitration Moot, etc.). And lastly, I cannot stress enough the importance of writing quality articles and research papers.
6. Is there any global scope in ADR? Do international ADR law firms hire lawyers from foreign nation?
Yes, international arbitration has a lot of scope for lawyers.
If you wish to work in international arbitration with foreign law firms, you can consider applying for Training Contracts which are offered by a few firms (like Herbert Smith Freehills, Allen & Ovary) to Indian law students after their graduation. Alternatively, you can do a specialised LLM in arbitration (probably from institutes such as MIDS Geneva, Miami School of Law), and approach law firms thereafter. But it is essential to start building your profile in the right direction early on.
7. There are nerve racking occasions where enough options are not open through campus placements? What would be your advice to these students? Please suggest us further opportunities for them.
I understand the difficult time which students face when they are unable to get a job through campus placement. However, there are plenty of opportunities available to students outside of campus as well. To start with, they need to narrow down the kind of workplace they wish to be in. If one wants to work in law firms (whether in dispute or other practice areas) or as an inhouse counsel in companies, most of these organisations have a structured HR mechanism for recruitment and one must apply to them and persistently follow up. Even if you don’t get a place of your liking, you can start at a smaller organisation, build up your work profile and after a few years apply once again to the organisation of your preference. If one wants to opt for litigation, one must patiently look for a good chamber to join and in the meanwhile endeavour to enhance your profile.
8. You’re also a panel lawyer for state govt of MP. Please tell us how panel lawyers are different from government advocates? What are the requirements to become a panel lawyer? Also guide us about their duties and responsibilities.
In litigation there are many opportunities which law students are seldom aware of. Many government organisations have a fixed set of lawyers who are engaged (for a short duration at a time) to represent these organisations in court whenever the need arises. The Union and State governments also have their own set of lawyers called government advocates. Sometimes the government also has a panel of lawyers to whom work is allotted on need basis and they get compensation based on the number of days worked or number of cases assigned. Apart from appearing in court on behalf of the government, GAs are further tasked with preparing pleadings or opinions on behalf of the government and sometimes panel lawyers also assist GAs in this work.
The appointment to these panels is usually done by the ruling government.
9. Many freshers want to pursue a career in litigation, still they resist owing to the monetary uncertainty which comes alongside. Could you tell supplementary options which these freshers can pick so as to survive in early years of practice?
The financial struggle which lawyers, in early years of litigation, have to face, is a widely acknowledged problem. This particularly poses a problem to those who come from less privileged financial backgrounds. One option for such people can be to join a litigation firm or the litigation team of a law firm instead of joining a practicing counsel. However, if they want to ultimately set up their own chambers and carry on independent practice, they can work with
a law firm for the initial few years, save up and then venture into litigation. The stipends given by independent counsels to their juniors widely vary from counsel to counsel. So, alternatively, an aspiring litigator can also choose the chamber which grants a relatively higher pay. One can also try and get appointed to the panel of lawyers of a government organisation, which can provide some financial security. Moreover, organisations like the CAN Foundation have also now come up which provide financial support to meritorious students who wish to pursue
litigation but who do not have the means to do so.
If your aim is to open your own chamber one day, these tips can help you survive the initial few years in litigation. But to ultimately succeed, one will have to develop one’s skills, work hard, persevere and trust that things will work out.
10. Lots of law firms deal with such areas of law which are now entirely established. Yet, some areas of law are still evolving. For instance – Sports laws, aviation laws. Please tell us such areas of law which you think are yet to evolve & which might offer opportunities in coming years?
Sports law is an evolving branch. In fact, there is even an arbitral institute specialising in sports law related disputes – Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. Apart from that, I believe mediation could become big in the coming years, even though currently arbitration has a larger scope. One should also keep a look out for newer developments in law, for instance the enactment of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code a few years ago opened up newer avenues
for lawyers. To take another example, I believe once the Personal Data Protection Bill is enacted, the demand for lawyers specialising in the field of privacy and data protection laws will go up.