Aashna Jain is a graduate of National Law University, Jodhpur, and has worked in two of the most reputed firms in the country. She is a Lawyer turned entrepreneur who initiated her startup namely “Career Solutions” and is adding value to the life of law students by providing tips and tricks for building up their resume and offering a helping hand in their career-related issues. She has been interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Jyotshna Yashaswi who is currently pursuing law from CNLU.
1. Ma’am, please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi! I am Aashna Jain. I am a lawyer by qualification and like every other millennial/individual falling in the cohort of Gen Z, still figuring out how to best utilise my education to sustain myself and most importantly how to attain mental peace while doing all of this. I have had short stints at being a corporate lawyer, a litigating lawyer and now I see myself venturing into the space of career coaching. Apart from work, I am someone who likes to experiment with everything starting from the kind of food I eat to the books I read.
2. What does “Career Solutions” mean to you? What are your future plans with it?
Career Solutions as a concept has been extremely close to me since the time I was in college. Right now, Career Solutions, as my start-up, if you like to call it one, is like a plant, that I have to take care of. I feel strongly about some concepts that most of the law students are unaware of and that has led to a great divide between the same age group of law students. I am ever so thankful to the Recruitment and Placement Cell at NLU, Jodhpur, that they helped me give a solution to every career-related problem that I faced. Through Career Solutions, I aim to do the same, though on a macro level.
I believe in up skilling myself each day so that I can add value to the lives of the students and young professionals. With the aid of social media, I plan to reach out to the maximum number of students and fresh graduates who are suffering due to the non-exposure to valuable information on how to proceed with their careers. I see myself working full-time on this in the near future.
3. How was your law school experience like and what prompted you take up a startup as a career option?
My law school started with a belief that I was all set for my career, now that I have landed at a top-ranked NLU. However, my belief got trashed right in the first semester. It took me around three to four semesters to figure out to how deal with this phenomenon called law school life. Once I came to terms with the fact, that a lot must be done in terms of my resume to be able to achieve what I wanted to, there was no looking back. I joined various committees and I was also on the editorial boards of the two decently performing flagship journals of our college. I took part in one international moot and one national debate. I worked on a six-month-long international research project. I was an active member of IDIA. Most importantly, I met some great people in my law school journey, with whom I am still friends with. To sum up I did not devote my law school life, to only one pursuit of moots, debates or academics. I have done a bit of everything and I am grateful that I made that choice.
My decision to take up Career Solutions as a full-time career was prompted by my wish to work for myself from anywhere. I like working on my own deadlines and timelines. Secondly, my interest lies in helping students get that one internship/job that they so eagerly want. I have been helping students in this right from the time I got placed in my 4th year. However, after working as a lawyer for two years, I realised that how much ever I like law, I have an inclination towards career development and it is something that I can myself see doing in the long run.
4. Could you describe your role as an IDIA Team Leader in the Rajasthan chapter?
My role as a Team Leader of the IDIA Rajasthan Chapter was a life-altering experience for me. I am ever so thankful to Late Prof. Shamnad Basheer for giving me an opportunity to be a part of and subsequently lead this wonderful organisation. I would further like to thank Mr. Vineet Bhalla who was our Regional Director while I was heading the Finance Team in Rajasthan. He gave me the organisational space and authority to work for the betterment of my chapter.
My role as a Team Leader was to raise funds and make our chapter self-sufficient. Funds were required to train the economically challenged students for the CLAT examination and other law entrances. Funds were also required to cover the expenses of the IDIA Scholars who were staying on the NLUJ campus. My team and I organised various fund-raising events in college right from thandai stalls on cultural events to games stall at Yuvardha (NLUJ’s sports fest). On the whole, IDIA gave me a holistic learning experience where I figured out how to raise over 3 lakhs INR in a week to pay the admission fee of Rajasthan Chapter’s IDIA trainees who got admissions at various law schools, networked with some of the best legal minds of this country and lastly had a chance to demonstrate my skills of leadership and teamwork.
5. How important is doing proper legal research and how should law students equip themselves with legal research skills?
Legal research is at the core of the legal profession. There is not a single field in this profession where one can survive without indulging in research. Therefore, it is imperative that this skill has a strong foundation right from the beginning of law school. One method of developing the skill is by reading as much as you can and by equipping yourself to be able to use the latest databases that are available out there. Further, research skills can be developed through regular attempts at quality publications. Taking up posts of copy-editor in reputed journals in the initial years of law school can also help in the development of this skill.
6. What is your advice to young law students regarding the process of resume building?
My only advice is to draft a resume specifically for the place you wish to apply to. Having a single resume for applications to places as different as a law firm, NGO, litigation chamber, judicial chamber will not help you. Understand what the recruiter is looking for. There should be consensus ad idem in the skill set the recruiter is looking for and the skills you are presenting to them on the paper. Before putting anything on the paper, please understand if a particular thing only looks important to you or is it actually noteworthy from the point of view of the recruiter.
7. What is the secret sauce recipe for an impressive cover letter?
The secret to a good cover letter is to make peace with the fact that if the recruiter is not convinced of the narrative that you have put in front of her in the form of a cover letter, there are high chances that the file containing your resume may not even be opened by the recruiter. You need to draft your cover-letter keeping in mind the requirements of the recruiter. For instance, if the job description asks for a researcher, your cover letter should breathe of your researching skills and a brief summary of your experiences in the field of researching. The recruiter should be driven to open the file containing your resume.
8. How would you suggest students to prepare for different kinds of an interview and is there an optimum time when students should start such preparation?
The general pointers are of course to be through with your resume and the basics of law which include contracts, company law, etc. However, while preparing for an interview, HR questions do not get the attention they deserve. I have personally seen many people getting rejected because, in the HR round the recruiting partner felt that this person might not be able to fit into the law firm culture. Also, with recruitment processes becoming sophisticated with each passing day, there is an emphasis on commercial awareness. How commercially aware you are about the firm/organisation you are applying to and about the area of law that interests you can make or break your chances of being offered a job.
There is no correct time to start preparing. If your legal foundations are strong, touching upon basics would not take long. Additionally, if you have actually worked on the things that are mentioned in your resume, you will not have a hard time preparing for the interview. As far as commercial awareness and HR round are concerned, it is not a one-day process. It develops over time. One should start working on these two things, as early as possible.
9. You have worked at two of the most reputed law firms in the country, how would you describe your experience there?
This is the most frequently asked question. I was of course anticipating this! Well, my time at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas was not the most enjoyable time in my legal career. I was not exactly satisfied with the kind of work and the environment I was exposed to. I am in no way suggesting that the work environment was bad in any way. However, it did not resonate with me and it did not align with my goals and future aspirations.
Next, when I started working with Dua Associates, I could feel the difference in my approach and I always looked forward to going to that office. I would take this opportunity to thank the partners and colleagues at Dua Associates, Chandigarh, and even some colleagues in Delhi Office, who made me feel comfortable in the office space. I always looked up to them and they were all no less than mentors to me. At Dua, I liked the work assigned to me and the environment was conducive to the kind of growth pattern that I had mapped for myself. I would have never left Dua in the near future at least, if not for my newly kindled interest in the Career Coaching space. I can safely say that I felt at home while I was working with the Chandigarh Team at Dua Associates.
10. Since startups are a very unexplored career option in the legal fraternity, what is your suggestion to law students who are planning to pursue a startup?
Well, by all means, one can pursue a career in the start-up space. However, as lawyers, we have a tendency to sometimes unconsciously over complicate things. Not every startup can become the next Facebook. We as individuals need to stop romanticising the idea of changing the world through our start-up. The objective should be two-fold: to provide utility and to be profitable. It is okay if you are not highly experienced while starting out, but not many people know that Haldiram was only 12 years of age when he set up his first Bhujia Shop in Bikaner. The idea is to be patient and to constantly up-skill yourself in order to provide value to your target group.