Into the real world: A fresh litigator

Law school gives a lot of exposure if one knows how to play their cards right. However, what is it really like to be in a courtroom as a real advocate after graduation?

in conversation with:

Manasi Bhushan

A graduate from Government Law College, Mumbai from 2018 batch and a second rank holder in MU. She holds a PG Diploma in Human Rights Law from NLSIU, Bangalore and Diploma in Cyber Law from Asian School of Cyber Law.

While at GLC, she was awarded ‘Yashwant Dalal Cup’, ‘Nivedita Nathany Memorial Award’, ‘Chief justice M.C. Chagla Memorial Award and Scholarship’ twice and ‘Godrej Foundation Scholarship’.

She was the General Secretary of Legal Aid Committee and the Founding Member of ADR cell. Currently she is practicing in Delhi High Court and delivers lectures in various law colleges.

Making the most of your 5 years in law school

BA. LL.B being an integrated undergraduate degree takes 5 long years for one to complete and it’s only fair to assume that a student should have/would have made the most of their time while being in their law school. However, one major problem that most of the students face is the variety of options for skill development to choose from. Some students make their choice and focus on their key areas while others struggle with a number of activities not being able to give their best to a particular field.

Solution to such a problem is quite simple. While some students can overcome this problem by detecting what they are best at and pursuing the same, others can learn from the experiences of those who have already faced similar situations. Law school is the best time to learn, detect, and pursue one’s potential to help them in the long run.

1. Developing your skill set

Being an active and vigilant student is extremely beneficial in the long run. During GLC days, apart from having an excellent academic record, my journey included diverse internships, research projects and publications. I interned in NGOs, Law Firms (ARA Law and AZB & Partners), under judge (Hon’ble Ms. Justice Gita Mittal, Delhi High Court) and with lawyers ranging from District Courts to Apex Court.
Other activities involved heading college committees and being an integral part of Students’ Council which helped me in building my collaborative skills. I worked on projects relating to research and publication and assisted Prof. H.D.Pithawalla in authoring books like IPC, Constitution, Human Rights and many more.
All in all, the purpose was to gain maximum exposure and being a first generation lawyer, to decide for myself as to where my interest lies.

2. Importance of good grades

Having good grades in resume is always appreciated. It becomes easier to get placed or pursue higher education. However, grades should not be the primary aim. The aim should be to learn and understand the law. That is what sustains and rest fades with time. Grades can never be a determining factor to become a successful litigator.

3. Mooting, debating, MUN’s and likes

There is no set formulae to become successful and for entering litigation after graduation. Participating in activities like Moot Court Competitions, Debates, MUNs and ADR competitions are essential for strengthening research and oratory skills.
For instance, when I participated as a speaker in D.M. Harish International Moot Court Competition, my understanding in Public International Law had increased immensely. Even though, while practicing as a lawyer, PIL is hardly utilized but its concepts have better enabled me in understanding other statutes.
As far as direct usage of such competitions in practice is concerned, the chances are flimsy, although, these competitions give an insight regarding practice in future, keep you productive and make you more confident.

Experience as a litigator: What it’s like and what it takes to be one

The most common yet competitive field in the career of law is litigation. Whenever a layman or even a law student thinks about a career in law, the first thing that hits them is becoming a litigator.

However, with an increasing number of lawyers today, it has become even more difficult to make it as a successful advocate in India. There are many factors which can influence an advocate’s journey in the right or wrong direction.

1. Factors that can help you determine your passion

A litigating lawyer is like a one-man army. He sole handedly does research, drafting and argues the matter. There is always a challenge to satisfy the judge as well as the client.
Additionally, one has to hone skills required for client counseling and assess whether the case is good enough to fight endlessly or will it be in the interest of parties to settle. Such skill set required in litigation inspired me to choose it despite being a first generation lawyer.

2. Qualities of a good litigator

The foremost qualities required in a law student are sincerity and desire to learn. Merely studying the subjects just to pass exams without understanding the concepts is catastrophic. I have personally experienced that if one studies religiously, it reaps good results.
For a law student it is equally important to develop communication skills, enhance writing skills, to be aware of current affairs and be able to critically analyze the laws. That is what demarcates a lawyer from a lay man.

3. Surviving in the real world: Evolution

It has been two years now in litigation and am still learning and grasping new ways and tricks. At the outset, having done numerous internships with lawyers and judges made me comfortable with the court set up.
Right after graduation, I joined a law firm. Initially I shadowed my seniors and keenly observed the procedure in courts, the manner of drafting and the art of cross-examination. Eventually, with time, after having confidence as regards to knowledge and skills required, I started taking up matters independently.
I remember the first matter that I argued was for getting bail of the accused, in which I got a favorable order. That was my first victory. The key to sustain is consistency as well as promptness in working.

Enjoy, research, work hard, repeat!

My foremost advice to all students irrespective of the path they choose is that, law school is a journey which should be enjoyed and not a rat race for competing all the time. The destination is important and so is the journey.
I remember extensively exploring Mumbai like eating street food, going for a jog on Marine Drive in early mornings, trekking in Lonavala, partying in clubs, and a lot of other things. Your college life is the best time of your student life. Don’t make it dry.
For students willing to join the Bar, having long term internships with lawyers is extremely beneficial and preferably a year-long one in the last year with the lawyer/firm you desire to join.
Having clarity in concepts is inescapable, so better read the law and relate it with current events or case laws, as reading is the only way to get through in this profession. Looking forward to meet enthusiastic, intelligent and young lawyers in the Bar!

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