Coming to Speed with the International Legal Industry
-By Ms. Ojasvita Srivastava
The first question that comes to mind is the Indian legal industry really lagging behind the international legal industry? The simple answer to this question is that there only a few Indian law firms have an international presence. Even those Indian firms that do have foreign offices, do not compare to the level and amount of work done by large international law firms. The first question that comes to mind is the Indian legal industry really lagging behind the international legal industry? The simple answer to this question is that there only a few Indian law firms have an international presence. Even those Indian firms that do have foreign offices, do not compare to the level and amount of work done by large international law firms. So why is the Indian legal industry lagging behind? In my opinion, besides the statutory limitations, there are several other reasons for this. Prominent among these is the lack of diversity owing to lack of equal opportunity, professionalism and transparency. There is still a great deal of ad-hocism within the industry. Before we go into how to address these lacunae, let us dig into the advantages of a diverse workforce.
Key Benefits of a Diverse Workplace
A diverse workforce allows an organisation to develop a deeper understanding of a community and market segments and thus cater to a larger client base. Besides making one an employer of choice, it allows an organisation to retain a wider talent pool while allowing rapid growth and expansion. This bring us to how to ensure diversity at the workplace?
How to ensure a diverse workforce
There are two important steps towards ensuring a diverse workforce: a fair recruitment process and conscience efforts to recruit from underrepresented groups. Steps towards ensuring a fair recruitment include setting a job description, advertising the post widely and ensuring that there is an interview panel so that the views of more than one person are taken into consideration when recruiting. The more difficult part, however, is making concerted efforts towards recruiting candidates from groups that are underrepresented as this requires additional efforts and funds. This is where Project Abhimanyu (PA) steps in.
The Bridge: Project Abhimanyu
PA is working towards guiding students who do not have access to proper training due to issues such as belonging to a tier II or tier III city or being a first generation lawyer or belonging to a non- NLU university or newly formed NLU or students entering the profession from non-traditional backgrounds. In its efforts, PA provides guidance online and also actively reaches out and conducts workshops in colleges in tier II and Tier III cities. It has in the past conducted workshops at the following colleges:Chaudhary Charan Singh College, Saifai, UP on 16th November, 2016 conducted by Mr. Manoj Kumar, the Founder of Hammurabi & Solomon, Mr. S Ramaswamy, the Founder of Medha Advisors & Chairman, INBA (GC section) and Ms. Ojasvita Srivastava, CS & Legal, APAC, G4S. V. M. Salgaocar College of Law, Goa on 26th November, 2016 conducted by Adv. Vilas Thali, Advocate at the High Court of Bombay and Fmr. Addl. Advocate General of Goa.Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, UP on 24th February, 2017 conducted by Mr. S Ramaswamy, the Founder of Medha Advisors & Chairman, INBA (GC section), Mr. Saurabh Kumar, Managing Partner, SK Attorneys and Ms. Tarjana Rai, Legal Counsel, Snapdeal.com.
Project Abhimanyu is working at the grassroot level, however, change has to come throughout the system. The need of the hour is taking conscious steps like providing internship opportunities to students without discrimination, investing in training students, following a more transparent recruitment process and going online. It would be my humble request to firms and lawyers to actively implement these steps and collaborate towards the progress of the Indian Legal Industry.
[Note: This Article was delivered as a presentation by Ms Ojasvita Srivastava as part of the panel discussion on “Legal Sector Way Forward” at the 64th Constitution Day Celebration organised by the Indian National Bar Association. You can watch the presentation from 53:30 here ]