LPO: a Q&A with Dhiraj Merchant
The only thing that plays at the back of my mind sometimes is that after spending almost four-and-a-half years in the offshoring industry, it will be difficult for me to get back to the Indian scenario. Dhiraj Merchant speaks to Snehal Rebello.
Did you always want to pursue law?
I hadn't decided on law as a career in my early days. In fact, since my elder brother Deepesh was a Chartered Accountant (CA), I too enrolled for the CA foundation course while pursuing a commerce degree at Sydenham College, Churchgate. For 16 months, I even worked at a CA firm. But accounting and auditing did not interest me. Theory was always my strong point and not numbers. However, the turning point came in my second year at college, when I studied business law as a subject. I developed a liking for law, and figured this was the profession I wanted and joined the Government Law College.
What do you look for in a candidate?
It differs from project to project. For project-specific interviews, candidates are given a client-specific test. On campus placements, we look for writing and editing skills essential for drafting agreements and picking holes in them, such as like grammar and punctuation. Analytical tests are also administered where the candidate has to analyse a case and put it forth. Besides these, research skills and a knowledge of how to use computers is important. Most importantly, communications skills have to be good since one has to interact with attorneys in US, UK and other countries.
The legal outsourcing industry is fairly new and you've been dealing only with international laws, so do you have any apprehensions?
The only thing that plays at the back of my mind sometimes is that after spending almost four-and-a-half years in the offshoring industry, it will be difficult for me to get back to the Indian scenario. And in case of litigation, I will have to start from square one. But for the next 10 years, I don't see anything going against the LPO sector.
How did you familiarise yourself with the laws of countries like the US and UK?
Indian laws and laws in the US and UK arise out of a common law system with similar concepts. When there is new project, we are trained on the project, either by the CEO or anyone from our head office in Chicago. Sometimes, the client comes down and trains as well. The training can vary from one week to 15 days to even one month. So we learn on the job.
Do you keep abreast with changes in Indian laws?
Yes, I do keep a keep track of changes in Indian laws once every month. I have subscribed to a website called Manupatra which deals with amendments to existing laws, circulars, notifications for Indian laws and cites cases.