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How to build relationship with law firm partners while you are preparing so that you can get AoR work through them while you prepare for the AOR exam

It would take you ages to build any kind of meaningful network with corporates to get Supreme Court work from them directly.

But there is an amazing shortcut to get AoR work.

Corporate law firms have clients who have huge, high stakes matters that go up to the Supreme Court all the time.

For arguments, they will always brief big senior counsels.

But for AoR, there are no such mandates.

Some law firms have their own AoRs on the role, so that they can use their associates/partners as AoR and do not have to look outside for AoR.

But the vast majority of them cannot employ AoRs given that expected salary is very, very high.

So if you can network with disputes & corporate litigation partners at these law firms, you can do wonders because they can start referring you AoR work once you qualify.

Sure, they definitely already have AoR relationships in place, but as these AoRs become more senior and busy, their attention for these law firm clients falters and their bills grow. So law firm partners are always looking for young upcoming AoRs.

So how do you network with these law firm partners who can refer you AoR work?

  • Lawyers want fame and recognition. It is critical for their further growth beyond a point. 
  • They want to become a thought leader by publishing their research, ideas, and life experiences. They want to publicize their achievements & success stories. 
  • They want to be interviewed on podcasts and media channels, write articles, books, newsletters and blogs for their clients. 
  • They want to be invited to events to deliver talks.
  • But they can’t. They can’t find the time. Most of them are so busy that they don’t get enough time to spend with family. 
  • Are they supposed to ignore their paid client work to do all these?
  • They need to build a brand, bring in clients, and do some business development. They are anxious about it. They can do the work, that is proven. But can I bring in a client? Otherwise they may face a dead end in their career. Can you help them with that?
  • Can you be a research assistant for them and help them to write and publish in top blogs or other media around the world?
  • Can you help them to get on top podcasts which their clients may listen to? Can you help them to build a blog or twitter presence or Youtube channel? 
  • What about writing and publishing a book, can you help them to organize all that and assist in research?
  • They would love that. Best way to get in their good books, and then get that internship, or interview or even a recommendation from them.
  • Since you may not know a lot of Supreme Court or corporate litigation work at this point, it is a great idea to assist lawyers in India and foreign lawyers to build their brand. Can you help them to:
  1. Build a youtube channel (you find topics, interview them, edit the videos, take care of posting, comments etc)
  2. Write 3 threads every week for them on twitter – interview them on interesting topics and post the insights on their twitter as a thread
  3. Help them to write one article a week
  4. Help them to get featured on 1 podcast or interview site a week
  • This is how real networking is done.
  • Also, they have money.
  • If you can help them to do even some of these things – they would be super happy to pay you well.
  • Some of them will be happy to give you “of counsel” work or engage you as a local counsel to file cases for their clients.
  • Some of you may be able to get jobs in litigation firms, and your prior litigation experience will be an advantage and will be taken into account – especially if you have some corporate litigation experience (more about that later)
  • Once you learn how to do this and have helped a couple lawyers get featured, you can even charge for this!  

Here’s a message you can send them:

Hi xyz,

I can help you to start a blog for your law firm (or make your law firm’s blog more active/ whatever it is). I will also assist you to publish one article every week, including sending them to leading publications.

All I want in return is a recommendation for my work on my profile. If you find my work beneficial and useful, you can give me remote freelance work at any amount, or not. I just want an opportunity to help you out using my skills. It will be a dream come true for me.

Before deciding on my request, you can give me any trial article to write if you like. I have written over 50 articles till date, and I will not waste your time.

Here are some articles I have written recently: ____________: [insert links]

PS: I can also help you to create amazing posts for Twitter and Linkedin, help to build a larger following, and help you to reach potential clients on social media.

If you reach out with the right message to lawyers, especially solo practitioners or run smaller law firms, you can have good chances of success. 

Here is another message. 

Dear xyz, 

Congratulations on <mention some recent accomplishment/award/being featured in the media>! 

I am a litigator in <area/courts>, and I would love to assist you in improving your online footprint so that you can have higher visibility on social media and also show up in Google searches by prospective clients and other lawyers. 

  • Here is a possible list of 10 topics on which you can make video content (I can help you out with recording, editing and producing videos on these topics and placing them on the internet in a way that generates maximum traction for you): 

<applicant to list the topics>

  • I can make a list of appropriate YouTube channels with their number of followers and then help you to seek collaborations with those channels to attract more attention. I can also help you build a YouTube channel and attract thousands of viewers in the next 3 months. 
  • I can also help you organize a series of webinars or get invitations to speak at other webinars or podcasts.   
  • I can help you out for 1 month for free, and you can decide after that if you would like to compensate me for my time. 

I have done this for my own profile/helped 3 other lawyers do this. Here are links to some of the videos:

<insert links>

Please let me know if you will be interested in this so that I can share a more detailed plan with you and possible time slots for a Zoom meeting. 

There are plenty of other ways in which you can reach out. Write what you can do for now. 

You have to try variations till something works.

But you get the idea right?

But learn the key idea here: talk to people about what they want. Not what you want.

You can use AI tools like ChatGPT and Descript to do a lot of the heavy lifting for these tasks, whether it is suggesting questions for interviews, topics for blog posts, or editing videos.

Let me teach you

What was different about this email? How is this email different from the mails you usually send? 

Here is what to do instead:

Understand what these lawyers need. Figure out how YOU can HELP them.

If you can offer them a solution for their existing problem, you will be much more welcome and get your first break.

Why should I do any free work? XYZ big lawyer told me to never work for free.

Working for free is not a good idea generally.

There is one big exception. 

To get experience and testimonials when you are a beginner, do not hesitate to do free work.

If you work for free, but very strategically, you can accelerate your career. 

You can get 10x more matters before the SC, get a lot more experience and facetime before judges, build credibility and hands of expertise 10x faster, and basically get where you want to be 10 years faster than everyone else. Why?

Because nobody with money bothers to hire a rookie lawyer without a track record.

If you have a track record you can charge a lot of money.

Your goal is to build a track record as fast as possible. If you wait to get paid clients it may take very long. The idea is to be proactive about building that initial track record.

How can you build it in 6-12 months instead of 5-10 years as many lawyers take to build that initial track record?

There are many people without money who badly need legal help.

There are NGOs and industry organizations that need legal help for public cause but don’t have much in their coffers

If you help them, you build your track record very fast, and then you can charge big money to big corporations based on that track record.

Some seniors don’t want you to know this. 

Those who are struggling themselves for 10 years are worried that you will lower their ability to charge high fees by doing low bono and pro bono work and even may end up building a better track record than them and start competing with them.

Don’t listen to them

Decide for yourself what is in your interest

But even if you work for free make sure you collect generous testimonials and reviews on your google listing, linkedin, upwork and other such profiles.

Initially, you may perform a few assignments for free, just to collect testimonials. 

Remember – getting your first 3 assignments is always hardest. When you have a lot of testimonials and good reviews from top Supreme Court lawyers or genuine clients, work flows in faster than you can handle!

Amit Tiwari is a Law graduate of 2018 and is based in Ahmedabad. He is the Founder of The Advocate Desk, which is a prominent law firm providing comprehensive legal services throughout India. 

He continued working there until the lockdown, after which he began practising in various high courts. However, his ambition was to establish a practice in the Supreme Court. In May 2022, he travelled between Delhi and his hometown, spending around 3-4 lakhs on building his Supreme Court practice. 

Amit Tiwari joined Lawsikho to learn new methods of accessing international clients, marketing, and outreach. As a result, Amit revamped his LinkedIn account and became more regular in posting content. His new strategies have been fruitful in expanding his client base.

With our guidance, he networked with other AORs and obtained his certificate for commencement on in December. He is also working this AoR on briefing on matters. 

After attending the Lawsikho boot camp and joining the November 2022 cohort, Amit’s level of understanding and experience in drafting, judgement key points, and legal representation improved by attending regular classes and completing weekly exercises. 

With four years of experience in High Court practice and one year in the Supreme Court, he started gaining practical expertise.

After completing ten weeks of regular classes and courses in February, his Supreme Court cases began to increase, and within three months, he managed to recover all his expenses. \

Out of the 25 matters he attended, he thoroughly argued in six, all of which were allowed in his favour. These cases included FAD appeals, bails, and transfer petitions. Additionally, he drafted the remaining cases as per his senior’s instructions, and they are currently pending before the Supreme Court.

He has gained 50+ briefs of the Supreme Court and his court appearances are recorded.

He is currently working with an AoR and is able to add value everytime he briefs his senior. 

Amit is now confident to attend the exam in December 2023.

He is able to earn INR 2-2.5 lakhs now monthly. This is double of what he was earning before.

Challenge 2:

What to do to be financially stable before you have cleared the AOR Exam?

You must build a corporate litigation practice 

Traditional areas such as civil litigation, criminal litigation, family matters, service and consumer litigation are areas where the supply of lawyers is already very high plus clients’ ability to pay is limited. 

Most individuals in India would not go to court even if they have a legal dispute simply because they can’t afford the fees!

It is great to be a lawyer who represents poor people, but that is not a desirable way to succeed in your career.

It’s a small market,and very senior litigators are also focusing on such a small market  as there is no retirement age for litigators, so new entrants do not get enough opportunities. 

Instead, working for corporations is a much better idea. 

As of December, 2023, India has more than 1.6 million companies that are active. 

Every month, on an average 15- 20,000 new companies and LLPs are registered in India.

Total number of businesses in India runs into 6 about crores, including small businesses – these businesses will rapidly require legal services because of digitisation and pandemic, which has led to formalization of the Indian economy.

According to govt data, 99% of businesses in India are in the Micro, Small, or Medium category. 

But even a micro enterprise is not necessarily very small – they are businesses that have upto 1 cr of investment and turnover of upto 5 cr.

A small enterprise can have upto 50 cr of turnover and a medium enterprise can have 250 crore of turnover!

This is a much bigger market for litigators as companies need a wide variety of litigation services, including MSMEs.

Also, the vast majority of legal work at the Supreme Court, especially the well paid work, comes from corporate litigation. 

Major areas where MSMEs, startups and large corporations need help from litigators:

  1. Money recovery and contract enforcement
  2. Shareholder disputes
  3. Regulatory litigation
  4. Tax litigation
  5. Employee disputes – employees violating notice period, not returning company policy, joining competitors, soliciting other employees and vendors to work with them   
  6. IP disputes with employees, third parties, sometimes even clients
  7. Responding to notices from tax and local authorities, 
  8. Sexual harassment complaints, 
  9. Contractual disputes – someone didn’t perform the work as agreed 
  10. B2C startups may need lawyers to act against defamation, 

There are also some sectors that are prone to more litigation – real estate, consumer goods & e-commerce (consumer litigation), digital media and content businesses (IP enforcement), healthcare (medical negligence) – and corporate clients face volumes of litigation as defendants.

Banking, NBFCs and fintech rely heavily on litigators to recover defaulted loans, and frequently resort to litigation. In fact, by some estimates, 60% of corporate litigation in India falls in this category.

You can start building relationships with these clients right away, while your goal is to become an AOR. 

This set of clients will be very beneficial to you once you become an AOR. 

Since you would have already won their trust, they will be happy to give you appeals and SLPs before the Supreme Court on their behalf, and they won’t mind paying you well!

Most seniors might actually be surprised in future about how you were able to get such mandates! 

If the matter is very high-stakes, you can always engage brand name senior advocates! 

Isn’t this a much better way to learn than by working as a junior, not earning enough and not learning how to get your own clients or build your own practice?  

Is this going to distract me from my litigation goals? Not at all. 

Many people think that they need to have appearances in court to start building their litigation practice. 

The problem with high stakes litigation is that clients do not want to trust unknown lawyers they have never worked with or never heard of.

It is far easier to get other work from them, such as contracts, or small problems with authorities, etc.

This is where you can build your initial traction, and trust with potential clients.

The advantage you have here is that most litigators do not even consider assisting startups, so if you do this, you will have a huge advantage. 

When those startups raise funding and grow bigger, they will have much more work, including litigation and arbitration work. 

They will be hungry to engage people whom they can rely on. 

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