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Legal advice

education Updated: May 09, 2012 11:06 IST
Gauri Kohli
Gauri Kohli
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

When Pinky Behera was enrolled as an advocate with the Delhi Bar Council five years ago, she had only three strengths with her — perseverance, determination and the pride with which she wore her black coat, band and gown.

Behera still remembers the day she joined the Supreme Court and was asked by her senior to argue a bail matter. “Initially, I was nervous at the thought of facing the honourable judges of the highest court in the country, but I managed to do a good job,” she says.

Today, she is practising as an independent lawyer in the Supreme Court. Having started her career here, she joined the office of the standing counsel of Gujarat where she had to plead in court on behalf of the state and was actively involved in litigation.

This helped her establish a strong footing in the profession. “If someone wants to pursue law as a career, you need to start practising under experienced lawyers who will give you exposure and help you develop the skill of advocacy. Since law is not just confined to the civil and criminal wing, and also includes tax law, corporation law, international law, labour law, real estate law, and patent law, among other specialisations, you need to be a jack of all trades,” says Behera.

Explaining the multiple roles of a lawyer, she says, initially you start as a junior assistant to an advocate, performing routine jobs like filing, researching, securing adjournments and, of course, attending court with the senior. You gradually graduate to working on briefs and drafting petitions. After some years of experience, you begin to participate actively in court. “Many women prefer to join legal firms or corporate houses as legal officers, rather than take up practice as a litigant lawyer. However, the scenario is changing and more and more women are now proudly occupying seats and proving their worth in the courts. For instance, now we have two women judges in the Supreme Court,” adds Behera.

Another young lawyer, Sunayna Jaimini, wishes she had that one anecdote of a case that was the defining moment of her career, an emotional, gut wrenching, good-triumphs-over-evil and happily-ever-after case. “But all I have are anecdotes on the amount of hard work that is required to study and succeed in this profession, because that is what my profession has been till now. Ironically, this is also its best part, you face challenges every day, your opinions are sought by high-profile clients and it is this feeling of accomplishment that makes being a lawyer and all the hard work worth it,” says Jaimini.

According to Jaimini, 25, who specialises in corporate law and general corporate and commercial laws, there have been sweeping changes in the legal profession. “It is now run by intellectuals and is now just a last-resort career for those who couldn’t succeed elsewhere. Our upward moving economy has also contributed towards the improvement in the field, as foreign law firms annually descend on most national law school to hire Indian law students. If ever there was a great time to join this profession..... it is now,” adds Jaimini.

For 25-year-old Anmol Chandan, it’s the opportunity to work on areas such as research, drafting and litigation at the Supreme Court that drives him to work harder. “I got one case dismissed recently where I got a chance to work with senior lawyers of the Supreme Court. It was a great learning experience and a high point of my career,” says Chandan, who studied at the Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar. The trick to clear the entrance test is to focus on your English skills, current affairs and legal reasoning. “Deciding on your area of interest while you study law is also important. I identified litigation as my area of interest and here I am, doing what I love doing,” adds Chandan.

How to quickly build up your scores while writing CLAT
* There is no negative marking in CLAT. Try to attempt as many questions as possible
* It is better to start with the GK section, which has got 50 questions for 50 marks. Finish it quickly and be assured that you will score at least 30-40 marks if your GK is good
* Completing a section in the first 15-20 minutes will give you a psychological edge and you can move to the next section confidently.
* The English section, too, has some sitters like antonyms, synonyms, fill in the blanks etc, which can be tackled quickly
* Mathematics and legal reasoning sections should be kept for last as they can be quite time-consuming
* The average cut-off last year was around 138. Try scoring in that neighbourhood and you will definitely find a seat in one of 14 law schools