Want to become a litigator? Confused whether to pursue a higher degree and how helpful it would be to your career? Don't worry, you aren't alone!
in conversation with:
Dr. Shashwat Bajpai
Being a litigating lawyer, he is one of the young turks at the Delhi Bar and founder of DRSB Law Chambers having the dual distinction of a BCL Masters from Oxford as well as a PhD from the National Law University, Delhi (NLUD).
Commercial laws is his area of expertise, specializing in Domestic & International Arbitrations along with Transfer pricing and International Taxation.
He speaks on various topics at seminars, webinars and addresses several public forums on these practice areas.
Being a law student interested in litigation
A profession in the law field consists of a variety of choices to pursue a career in.
However, some students manage to get an idea what might interest them in the long run while still exploring their options.
It is true that many developed and earlier established institutions are usually in a better position to provide an edge to their students in terms of their goals.
Dr. Shashwat graduated from Amity Law School, Delhi and while talking about opportunities and his life as a law student he said:
Being a law student in a University of Law in Delhi (NLUD, CLC or Amity) gives in my opinion a more enriching experience to a law student interested in pursuing litigation. I myself had the pleasure of experiencing the Supreme Court & Delhi High Court practice of the senior advocates closely and effectively. Moot Courts were my favorite co-curricular activity and hold the distinction of having done 10 moots in my 5 years of Law College.
Having an edge over others
1. BCL from Oxford University and a PhD, how beneficial?
Many students aspire to pursue higher degrees after their graduation in order to gain more knowledge in their area of interest.
One such advanced degree is Bachelors of Civil Laws from the Oxford University. It is a degree equivalent to a master’s degree for a law student and the selection process is quite competitive, given, one major factor is the academic record of the applicant for selection.
Furthermore, a student might be interested further in specializing in a particular subject by going for a PhD.
The BCL experience was second to none. The academic bent of the institution is on stellar footing. Completing the Doctorate from NLUD was academically speaking, a more grueling experience, given the Thesis writing along with the classes.
That having been said both have equally benefited me towards having a better command over my areas of practice before the Courts.
2. A tilt towards Arbitration
Dr. Shashwat shared his experience of being a member with CIArb (Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, UK):
The process of selection there is a strenuous one where you have Indian institutional branches like CIArb, NPAC, MCIA, in collaboration with CIArb, UK, tasking out affiliated courses of ACIArb (Associate), MCIArb (Member) as well as FCIArb (Fellow) and lawyers registering for the same.
Classes and exams are scheduled where after upon passing the designated conditions, one is accredited as a Member (as the case maybe).
I am part of the YMG (Young Member's group) CIArb Core Committee and will encourage more students and lawyers to join it so as to broaden their horizon on the arbitration academic front, having had first-hand experience in working with the organization.
Being a litigating lawyer
One thing that can help a law student in making an informed decision is by understanding from the inside what it really feels to be a litigator? This can only be achieved by indulging in more and more such internships or talking to such professionals already involved in the field.
Choosing litigation over other fields of expertise can be a difficult choice for many so there might be a lot of factors influencing an individual.
1. Making the decision to pursue litigation
Being a 3rd generation lawyer, the choice was an easy one, though from the perspective of everyone around me having bigger expectations due to the same, it was a courageous road to take.
You never forget your first case, because you constantly try and use that as a benchmark to tell yourself how far ahead you've come. In re court litigation, the articulation and depth of the law are two things we learn only from spending more days at the Court.
2. One major quality of a successful litigator
Reading of the law. Period. The more one reads the more one enhances once knowledge horizon. Mind is like a parachute, it only works when it’s opened.
Best course of action
My humble advice to all graduates would be to attach themselves with a senior advocate who can mentor you and/or with a litigation law firm. It helps groom you and steer you into the right direction.
Choosing litigation as a career choice is like choosing a dish to eat - it'll keep getting better with practice and eventually, assuming one works hard, others will want to emulate it.