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Rudresh Mandal – Emerging Legal Eagle

Rudresh Mandal is a graduate of NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad (2020) and an incoming associate at the capital markets practice group of Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, New Delhi. Prior to college, Rudresh studied at La Martiniere for Boys, Kolkata. Apart from his interest in law, Rudresh takes interest in playing football and chess and is also a keen musician, having played the piano for a good while. Please reach out to him on LinkedIn should you have any questions.

I.Why Law?

Driven by Passion or Chosen by Practical Concerns?

My desire to study law stemmed from a couple of factors. First, a desire to see justice being done in the world. Law is a potent weapon in the hands of the powerless and voiceless to make themselves heard, and protect their rights. Second, law was also in tune with my interests in social sciences, owing to the cross-pollination between both the fields. One is not complete without the other, and owing to my affinity for history & sociology, the study of law allowed me to engage in inter-disciplinary study. Third, my interest in corporate law specifically also stemmed from my recognition that business is good for the population, it creates opportunity for people, and enables the creation of wealth across society. Lawyers play a role in facilitating the ease of business. Also, financially, the monetary incentive of corporate law played its own role and gives one financial stability as we chart our journey in the professional world.

II. What are the career options post law school? What do people typically do?

Post law school in India, the bulk of students opt for litigation, corporate law practice or in-house counsel. The remaining continue their law studies with an LLM program (either in India or abroad). A small section also sits for competitive examinations – most notably, the judiciary examinations or civil services. Finally, of late, we’ve seen some students choose to pursue legal policy at research institutions, like Vidhi or CPR.

III.The path you chose

-(LLB, Specialization, The institute, Higher Studies, Subjects or Streams, Internship etc.)  

I studied for my BA LLB degree from NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, having scored well in the CLAT examinations with a rank of 101. At NALSAR, I studied a range of mandatory subjects like criminal law, constitutional law, corporate law and environmental law. We were also offered a diverse set of elective and seminar courses, including land law, disability law, trade law and defense law. All throughout my 5 years at law school, I interned with a number of law firms, since I desired to practice corporate law. I interned at L&L Partners, Mumbai, J. Sagar Associates, Mumbai, AZB, Mumbai and Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, New Delhi, amongst other firms. Eventually, I was fortunate enough to be offered a pre-placement offer at the capital markets team at SAM, New Delhi.

IV.How your choices made things easier or more competitive or gave you more exposure or advantage etc.

I think because from my 2nd year itself, I was sure that I wish to do corporate law, I could chart my path out from then. I had decided that I would intern at a particular set of firms, enabling me to build my CV to get a pre-placement offer. Accordingly, I focused on corporate subjects, wrote on corporate law matters, and interned in corporate firms. My internships did offer me a good deal of exposure, and the opportunity to network with associates. Consequently, when my ‘important’ 4th year internships come about, I was well placed to perform to the standards expected.

However, for a lot of students, they are undecided about their career path till 3rd year. And consequently, they intern with both litigators and corporate law firms (some with research centres as well). This does give one an idea of what they like (at least prima facie) and then they’re better placed to decide what they want to do in 4th year. The downside is that those who decide earlier, have a head start in terms of skill development and networking.

V. How is the workload in law school ? People often assume that law students have to study unimaginable amounts!

There is undeniably a perception that law students need to study pages and pages of voluminous books! However, trust me, as any law student in India will tell you, that is not the case. In NALSAR, we have two sets of examinations: mid-semesters and end-semesters, along with a project submission for every subject. Most of us in college studied a few weeks for each set of exams, and I think we’ve all done reasonably well! For plenty of exams, we’ve even studied one night and scored decent marks (though I don’t advocate this to anyone!) Of course, paying attention in class gives one an added advantage, on account of the notes taken down. The questions we get are also primarily application based. In that, a fact scenario will be given and we’ve to apply a set of legal rules and case law to the facts at hand. They’re quite fun to answer, and since there is no one correct answer, they often require creative thinking

VI.Law in Practice

Qualities that a student of law should cultivate to crack it in this field: Your advice ( anecdotal account )

At the outset, if one desires to study at an NLU, it is imperative that he/she works hard for the CLAT/AILET examination. Roughly 70,000 students now sit for the exams, and therefore, sustained hard work and effort are the only ways in which one can crack them. Personally, I studied for around 7 months for the exam, and in my opinion, there is no other way to do well in these entrance examinations. The value of diligence cannot be understated – while studying GK for example, you need to keep yourself updated of what happens on a weekly basis, lest mountains of information accumulate.

These values hold true in law school as well. Since projects are required to be submitted all through the semester, continued hard work and effort are crucial. Additionally, since one will invariably be involved in a range of co-curricular activities, time management is critical. Of course, we need to make some time for fun as well! Our college days will never come back, yet, we need to ensure that we chart out a path for ourselves professionally. Continued attention to classroom teaching, interacting meaningfully with seniors, seeking their guidance, and a determination to do well are the key qualities I’ve seen in successful students.

VII.Professional Journey

Average time , salary , work pressure, duration in years it takes to move from internship to independent practice: why there is no short cut in this profession.

My response to this question is of course framed on the basis of the accounts I’ve heard from my seniors. Since the majority of students opt for corporate law or litigation, I’ll speak about these two careers.

In the biggest corporate law firms, a typical work day stretches from 10:30 am to 9 pm. When there are deadlines to meet of course, the work hours increase. Students join as an ‘associate’ then progress to ‘senior associate’ in 4-5 years, ‘principal associate’ in 7-8 years, and partner in 10 years. Needless to say, this is just an estimate, and it varies from person to person.

Litigation is not something I have considered, and therefore my knowledge is limited. However, from what I’ve seen, the pay in litigation in initial years is significantly lesser than what a corporate law firm pays. But, when one becomes a senior lawyer, or is designated as a senior advocate, the amount of money to be made is staggering – much more than a law firm partner would make. From the day a student joins the chambers of a senior, I’ve seen people go independent in 5-7 years.

Whatever career one chooses in the legal field, there is no short cut. Hard work, research and argumentation are the only ways to success. I would advise budding lawyers to read Before Memory Fades by Fali Nariman, which details the long, difficult journey a senior advocate must undertake to reach the pinnacle.

VIII. Where do law students typically intern? And for how long?

Law students primarily intern with litigators, law firms and companies. Litigation internships primarily are offered in New Delhi (since both the Delhi HC and the Supreme Court are located there) and Mumbai and Bangalore. For the first 3 years, students typically intern at the smaller law firms, to gain exposure before interning at the big firms of India in their 4th and 5th years. At NALSAR, we get 3.5 months off in a year (1 May – 15 June, approximately & 1 Nov – 1 January) to intern. We try to intern for 3 months a year, usually at 3 different places (for a month each).

IX. How do top law firms hire?

Top law firms hire through 2 routes:

  • Internships: If students perform well at their internship, they are offered another internship, for another month. If the second internship also goes well, the student is offered an interview, which if successful, converts into a job (a pre-placement offer).
  • Day Zero: Day Zero is our college placement day, where partners from the top law firms come to campus and conduct interviews for students interested in pursuing a career at a corporate law firm.

X. What are some of the co curricular activities students pursue in law school?

The most popular co-curricular activities include mooting, debating and academic writing. Moot courts are probably central to the law school experience, since they are a rough simulation of real courts, and require a great deal of research and argumentation. The top mooters of the college are also selected to participate at moot courts abroad. A good number of students also engage in sports – football and cricket attracting the most number. From NALSAR, we also attend a number of inter law school, and inter college sports tournaments, in Kolkata, Jodhpur, Bangalore and so on. Personally, I have represented my college in football and chess.

XI. How do you see yourself contributing in the field of law 10 years down the line?

10 years down I see myself working in a corporate law firm, hopefully being a leader in my team. For now, I am deeply interested in capital markets (and corporate law generally), so I intend to specialize in the said field. Additionally, I also nurture a passion for academic writing, and I desire to contribute to legal journals with my writing.

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