This post is written by C. Shubbulakshami, NUALS Kochi.
Here’s something important which I would like to tell you all. I have interned with the in-house legal teams of the companies during my college. 7 out of 10 internships which I did in my 4 years of college was In- house, in the hope that someone in the team will notice my work and offer me the job.
What started as an experiment for me to find out what I like the most in the legal arena ended up interning with the in- house legal counsels. All the internship which I have done so far has taught me something different and when I look back I realize that I have acquired the necessary set of skills before entering into the job market.
All the curious readers out there who want to know what is the kind of work that you are expected to do as an intern in the legal company are going to be mentioned in this article. I hope my experiences will not disappoint you. So, here are the basic skills that will go on a long way if you want to work as an in- house lawyer-
- Drafting and reviewing of contract – I understood the importance of legal drafting in a very hard way when I was interning with L& T. I had no idea what I have to do in that entire month of my internship. They used to give me research work and proofreading various contracts and agreements. I used to spend the maximum amount of time reviewing the contract. They ranged from non- disclosure agreements to software licensing to general master service agreements and employment letters.It will not be an exaggerated statement if I say that in most of the law schools of India, professors with almost negligible practical experiences of contract drafting teaches Law of Contracts. They do a pretty job by explaining the basic concepts and making us memorize case laws from 1910, they fail to teach us how to draft a contract. So, you can get this necessary skill if you can talk to your professor and tell you to teach how to draft a contract, you can also learn this by doing some online course related to contract drafting. You will definitely have an edge over all those students who know the sections of Indian Contract Act but don’t know how they can use it while contract drafting.
- Researching skills – I’m quite lucky that I got to intern with one of the most successful constitutional lawyers in India. He actually gave me challenging work to judge my research skills which later helped me in my next internship with L&T. He didn’t expect much of me as a second-year student but you have to accept this fact that no one takes first and second-year students seriously during the internship. Researching came naturally to me because of the mandatory research paper submission for every subject in my college at the end of the semester. If your aim is to get a job offer as an in-house lawyer, then you should sharpen your research skills on anything under the sun. It will be an extra advantage if you have prior knowledge of commercial transactions along with research skills.
- Industrial and Domain Knowledge – I can count all the brand names and categories and the possible laws governing them for all those companies in which I have interned so far. This is what expected of you. The recruiters try to access knowledge about their company and its brands. They will ask you what are the laws that can possibly govern this category of company and whether you can work on them. So, it’s very important for a law student to get acquainted with the domain and industrial knowledge. Therefore, if you are going to sit in an interview for the in- house lawyer interview, then you should be thoroughly prepared. If you know the industry and can show your knowledge about it, then half of the battle is won. Now one question will pop up in your mind that how you can get knowledge of the industry as an outsider? You can do this by stepping ahead and know how the industry works by reading their terms and agreements, privacy policies, media articles and so on.
- Understanding the requirements of the company – We as lawyers tend to use complicate terms while explaining the law and expect the laymen sitting next to you to understand the Jargon. But this is what most of the companies do not need. Companies need lawyers who can breakdown the law and in do and don’t for the management and employees. For example – what happened when a certain ad need to be reviewed by the marketing team? Let’s say you find a certain part of the advertisement as a false claim about the product. Are you going to tell them what the law is? Or how they can change the ad so that it will not be misleading? It’s very important for an in-house lawyer to understand the need and the requirements of the company you are going to advise. The in-house counsel’s job is not to tell laymen what the law is, their main job is to support the business by maintaining a legal order in the company.
Are these qualities enough to get hired as an In-House lawyer?
No, But these are the most basic qualities that in-house recruiters look in their potential In-house Lawyers. These are the qualities that are not going to help you only in an internship with the companies. But it can help you as a student while you are doing research for your paper, it can also help you in choosing the best opportunities based on your legal expertise.
Here are a few other posts you might be interested in –
- Top Tech law firms to intern for undergraduate
- How to choose a good law school
- How to grab an internship as an undergraduate