There’s probably no advice as comprehensible and palatable as is the one that comes from a fresh law grad who makes it in field on his own. Served best with crude truth, relatable life choices and minimal ipse dixits, Priyan’s interview makes up for a perfect ‘oh that’s so me’ read!
He wins you over when you ask him about NLU bias by his quick retort, “It’s better to be an Outstanding Student in an 8th ranked Law College than just be a ‘somebody’ in a top law college”, and it doesn’t stop there.
Read on to know what Priyan Garg, Marketing Executive at LexisNexis has to say about bagging internships, making the most out of law school, his job profile and the now-in-vogue shift from law to management.
Tell us about your pre law school days. Why did you take up law?
Growing up in Chandigarh, I had never thought of myself as a lawyer. I chose a common path for many my age – the sciences – and hoped to find a career within the field. The decision to study law was one I made rather late, as late as until after my board examinations. I did feel at the time that the timing of my decision might put me at a disadvantage; I believed that most who studied law had always wanted to become lawyers. To my surprise, however, I was amongst the majority. Having met numerous law students from across the country over the past few years, I can safely say that many only decide to study law months or even weeks before the CLAT exam. One of the reasons for the growing number of people wanting to become lawyers is, perhaps, that law serves as a back-up option for many students.
I chose law over sciences because I found one massive advantage in the field. Science in India is a domain that is extremely hard to enter, with difficult competitive examinations and few seats at State-run institutions. After one graduates with a degree in engineering or medicine, however, the task of building a career is less daunting. Law on the other hand, is quite the opposite. It is comparatively easy to study law and become an advocate, and far harder to establish oneself once enrolled. Aged seventeen, I felt it would be easier for me to challenge myself at a later stage, when I was more mature and had the backing of increased knowledge and a professional degree.
Please share with our readers your experience at law school. What kind of activities did you participate in?
I would like to believe that I made the most of my five years at law school. I studied when I was required to, and ensured I had time for my friends and myself too. Law does require lots of studying, yes, but a law school experience is incomplete without participation in volunteer programmes, co-curricular activities and sports. Looking back, I am glad I made the most of the resources I had available.
Aside from academics, I participated in six moot court competitions focussing primarily on Constitutional Law. One may contest that the arguing system in a moot differs greatly from what one may experience in Court; however, I am of the firm belief that mooting gives one the right level of confidence in arguing etiquette and manner to be able to present cases before a real judge. Further, research being an essential component of any lawyer’s job, mooters will always find themselves at a significant advantage when faced with challenging research propositions at work.
Apart from classroom studies, internships and mooting activities I always made it a point to be involved in various committees managing events happening in the University which gave me an overall exposure to what goes behind organising and hosting an event. During the five years of my law college I actively organized the Amity International Moot Court Competition, Amity Quiz on Competition Law, Amity Competition on Law Reforms, Debates etc. According to me, there is no substitute for accuracy in knowledge. Know yourself, know your business, know your men, is the mantra of today’s success. Successful business persons understand the thin line of difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their benefits.
I was also the convener of The Legal Entrepreneurship Clinic, it is a cell run by the students of Amity Law School, Noida. It is the first ever entrepreneurship cell to be formed in any law school across India. The E-Clinic caters to the intellectual and innovative minds that aspire to become legal entrepreneurs and it aims to foster and promote entrepreneurial spirit amongst such students.
We at LEC organised workshops, panel discussions, seminars and competitions for aspiring entrepreneurs as an initiative to train and encourage their diverse and dormant talents. The Clinic endeavours to act as an incubator to the thoughts and ideas of aspiring lawyers, so as to make them prepared to be able to develop their ideas and concepts into practical business dimensions thereby helping them set up their own start-up. The Clinic works on the same objective as Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship, IIM Ahmedabad, whose main aim is to foster innovation-driven entrepreneurship.
As a Convenor of LEC, I organised various Wills Camps for the elderly residing in the jurisdiction of Noida, U.P.; panel discussions on the new Company Law Act, 2013 and the latest being a seminar on financial literacy called FLAP – Financial Literacy Awareness Program.
You possess a rich and diverse internship record ranging from law firms, judges, individual practitioners and corporates. Did such a variegated experience give you a strategic edge over others who stuck to the same bracket?
I often compare law to medicine. To a layman, the job of a pathologist, while indispensable, doesn’t seem as exciting as that of a surgeon. To someone not yet initiated into the legal fraternity, the distinction between transactional law and litigation can appear similar. There is an indubitable excitement about litigation, about forming strategies and arguing before judges, that makes litigation attractive. It is for this reason that I found myself lured by the field.
Having said that, interest in a field is not essential to get an internship in that field. Unfortunately, most internships in India are awarded through the applicant’s contacts or network. Where firms or practitioners accept applications, emphasis is usually laid on the candidate’s academic record and university, with secondary regard being given to non-academic achievements. I was very fortunate to have a good academic record, thereby ensuring that many applications were accepted. I also made a conscious effort to apply early and to continue to follow up with the organisation until they sent me a response. I’ve found that applications are not always replied to; “getting after” a firm to view your application is essential.
Coming from a non-legal background, there was always a hunger in me to learn and explore different fields of law, owing to which I made it a point to intern and apply at a variety of organisations. I was fortunate to intern at a number of premier institutions such as Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC), Additional Solicitor General of India (ASG) Pinky Anand, Geeta Luthra, Hon’ble Justice Ravindra Bhat, Luthra & Luthra Law Offices, Jyoti Sagar Associates, PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt. Ltd., Karanjawala & Co., LexisNexis India etc.
Such a variegated experience not only gave me a strategic edge over others who stuck to the same bracket but also increased my network of people.
You hail from a ‘non NLU’ law school. Is there any inherent bias between students of National Law Schools and other law schools? Was overcoming this ‘stigma’ a daunting task?
To be honest, Amity was not my first choice as a law school. While I had heard good things about the institution, I was fearful of joining a privately run school. After CLAT, I had the option of joining a lesser-known National Law School. Nonetheless, I chose to undertake a program in law at Amity. It’s better to be an Outstanding Student in an 8th ranked Law College than just be a ‘somebody’ in a top law college. There were three reasons behind this decision. First, being in Delhi allowed me to be closer to home (Chandigarh was only a few hours’ drive away). Second, in the NCR, I found myself at the heart of the Indian Legal System. Not only did this ensure that many successful personalities would be available in college for guest lectures and seminars, but also it increased my chances of gaining adequate work experience. With the best counsel, law firms and all levels of Courts present in the city, the opportunities for a keen intern were many. Third, I was fascinated by the courses Amity had on offer. The B.B.A., LL.B (Hons.) programme offered the unique opportunity of studying economics and management with law. I find now that this combination has given both, a rounded character to my personality (having now studied science, commerce and arts), as well as prepared me to better understand the needs of corporate clients I may have in the future.
I have always believed in the principle, “The name of the Law school matters only in the first two years for internships, in the last three years what matters is what you do for your personal exposure in the Law school.” Having a good academic record and rich internships experience I never faced any difference coming from a NLU background.
After your internship with LexisNexis, you joined it as a marketing executive. What made you drift towards a management position? What are the tasks you are expected to undertake?
Post my stint as a Campus Ambassador at Lawctopus, I applied to be a Student Ambassador at LexisNexis India in my fourth year of law school. Having been associated with LexisNexis India for an entire year, which is a leading legal, taxation and academic publisher, my inclination towards the organisation increased and I was interested in understanding how a publishing house really operates. During the final semester internship I applied for an internship with the LexisNexis India and joined the Marketing Team as a trainee.
The primary reason for this shift was my desire to explore the second half of my degree, “Business Administration”. LexisNexis India gave me the opportunity to work in the management domain, though within the legal sphere. Legal and managerial knowledge was essential to the job, and I was lucky to have a degree in both. As the final year was almost ending, I realized that I really did not have much enthusiasm in me for a litigation practice. I found litigation to be very procedural and mundane. Pursuing Corporate Law was another option for me, but I felt that it would restrict me to a very niche field. So I gradually drifted towards going for the Management field and challenge myself beyond my comfort zone.
Secondly, I have never supported the conventional view of necessarily practicing law after studying law. There are a plethora of avenues out there, waiting to be exploited. I always wanted to use my acquired legal skills in a business environment, my long term aim being to become an entrepreneur. I think law gives you the edge of knowing the regulatory framework well enough, understanding the compliances and understanding the statutory and other measures required and applying them to run a business. I believe people working in organizations in the top positions ought to have a decent understanding of the law, in order to manage business in their top capacities. Discovering a new avenue was my primary motivation in this journey.
Over the five months’ experience working as a Marketing Executive with LexisNexis India, I have been fortunate to have an amazing and understanding Marketing Director in Mr. Vikesh Dhyani. He truly justifies the saying, “Don’t pick a job. Pick a Boss. Your first boss is the biggest factor in your career success. A boss who doesn’t trust you won’t give you opportunities to grow.”- William Raduchel.
There was a major acquisition by LexisNexis India of Universal Law Publishing (ULP) on my joining. I was given the task to integrate the marketing activities of both the companies and transform the marketing activities of Universal Law Publishing on the lines of LexisNexis India.
The job profile mainly involves Print Marketing involving supporting the Marketing Campaign for ULP books (including bare acts) and ultimately take responsibility for the promotional materials and activities with a full marketing mix across a range of campaigns and implement the complete marketing plan; writing, producing and proofreading promotional material; implementing and developing regular newsletter updates; designing, collating, producing and mailing of key catalogues throughout the year.
The job profile also involves Online and Social Media Marketing involving building and managing the company’s social media profiles and presence including on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and additional channels; running regular social promotions and campaigns and tracking their success for ULP products; exploring new ways to engage and identify new social networks to reach out to target buyers. The profile also involves regular events and travel.
I have been also fortunate to work for the Strategy Operations Team involving mapping of products of both the companies i.e. Lexis Nexis India and Universal Law Publishing and carrying out analysis about the strengths and weaknesses of both the companies.
What is your advice to law students across the nation?
I have been fortunate to work under or work with associates, seniors, bosses and colleagues who made me work hard, helped me push boundaries and stretch myself beyond the call of a regular job. Consider yourself lucky if you have such company. There is no fun in living a life that you don’t feel proud of, a life where you have just passed your time. Build a list of accomplishments behind you. The learning you will get in the process will transform you and your thinking process completely. That’s what will make you a leader ultimately. There are no short cuts to success. The more grind you undergo – the stronger you become. The hardest aspect of managing your own self-development is that the biggest opportunities for improvement all exist outside your comfort zone. Since the risk of failure is obviously greater, finding the confidence to accept that risk can often be the largest obstacle to achieving your goals.
Law is not easy. There will be more than one occasion where you will question your choices and feel like giving up, even in your first year. Therefore, I believe one should only pursue it if one is passionate, if one truly loves the field. To put it simply, when you have no money and haven’t slept for a week, your love for law will give you all the strength you need.