Early law school hiring shows mixed trend

Brisk hiring by Cyril and Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas offsets the decline in demand from other law firms


Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Both sides of the now divided Amarchand Mangaldas family have considerably increased their recruitments for 2017 from top law schools, as have many top firms, with some already filling up their quota of recruits from law schools.

Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas has already hired a record 61 students to begin working as lawyers in 2017. Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas has hired 32 students. Trilegal has hired 30 and Khaitan & Co. has finished its 2017 law school recruitments with a tally of 29 as of 7 April.

The recruitment calendar this year has witnessed an acceleration from last year, as published in Mint on 7 April 2015 , with several major law firms such as Khaitan & Co. and AZB & Partners having substantially finished their recruitments for 2017 already.

So much so that despite some large firms such as J Sagar Associates (JSA) yet to begin hiring aggressively this year, intending to draw most of its 2017 entrants from future internships at the firm, younger national law schools that have not held their Day Zero face the prospect of the largest recruiters giving their campuses a miss.

That would pretty much put paid to graduates’ hopes of high-paying jobs.

The two sides of the erstwhile Amarchand Mangaldas Suresh A. Shroff, India’s largest law firm until it broke up nearly a year ago, have taken the previous aggregate of 65 students to 93.

Cyril Amarchand ramped up recruitments by 30% from 46 students as of 18 April 2015 to 61 this year.

Shardul Amarchand has seen a 70% increase in the number of recruits from 19 in 2015 to 32 this year.

Cyril Amarchand senior partner Vandana Shroff, commenting on the reasons for higher recruitment, said, “Firstly, in NUJS (National University of Juridical Sciences) we found a good batch. There is a lot of work and as a full-service firm with quite a few practice areas we need a lot of talent. Lastly, we continue to believe in the growth of the firm by the organic model. Hence these numbers.”

The beneficiaries from the Amarchands’ increased appetite for graduates have so far mostly been the graduates of six of the oldest national law schools (see table), apart from the relatively-young NLU Delhi and Jindal Global Law School in Haryana.

Trilegal, too, has increased its intake slightly, from 26 around this time last year to 30 so far.

But, those rises have been offset somewhat by other firms’ apparently reduced demand for graduates.

The total Day Zero tally across eight law firms (see table), is actually a little bit lower this year at 188, compared to 190 around the same time last year.

Khaitan & Co., for instance, has already finished its 2017 graduate recruitments, after having hired just 29 students from seven national law schools’ fourth-year batches. While 12 joined via pre-placement offers given after internships at the firm, 17 were picked up on campus.

Luthra & Luthra has also scaled back its 2017 campus recruitments significantly, at 22, down from 32 last year.

Amar Sinhji, human resources director at Khaitan & Co., said that rather than reduced recruitment being seen as an indication of the growth plans of the firm, it ought to be looked at as a function of reduced attrition.

“Earlier we used to plan a lot for attrition. Now that things are stabilizing, we really aren’t losing so many people,” he said. “The pace (of growth) remains the same.”

“We used to lose 30-50% of employees... in three to four years,” he said. “(Now) college kids are staying on. The firm’s got some size and become a big brand now—that is changing.”

Besides, human resource initiatives had helped in reducing attrition to less than 4% year-on-year, Sinhji said.

Lower junior-level attrition is also a positive from a cultural perspective, he said. “... they come and learn our culture and grow within the firm. As a long-term strategy, we want the majority of our recruits to be people who have grown up with the firm, rather than from outside.”

However, senior lateral hires would not stop—“fresh blood and thinking is always welcome”, Sinhji said.

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