Life at Law School: the untold secrets to succeed

Legally Flawless has started this drive to aware law students and young lawyers to achieve in the field of law through strategies from the achievers themselves.

In our fifth blog of the GYAN Serieswe are going to learn everything about the law school journey from Advocate Ravleen Chhabra.

Advocate Ravleen Chhabra is currently working as a Legal Associate at Chambers of Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan. Ma’am is an alumnus of the Institute of Law Nirma University, Ahmedabad. She has been a gold medallist throughout her law school. She was not just excellent in academics but has achieved laurels in Moot Court Competitions, Paper Publications, etc. Her team was the winner of the National and South-Asian rounds of the prestigious Henry Dunant Memorial Moot Court Competition. The team was also adjudged as the quarter-finalist in the 16th Red Cross IHL Moot Court Competition, 2018. Ma’am also participated in the 31st Concours Jean Pictet Competition 2019 and got nominated for the esteemed Gilbert-Apollis Prize for the Best Speaker amongst 72 participants. She has also acted as a judge in various Moot Court Competitions.

Apart from these, ma’am has some very good publications in reputed journals and blogs. Some of these include the Cambridge International Law Journal, the CBCL Blog, NLIU Bhopal,
and IndiaCorpLaw Blog. She has also interned at prestigious law firms and Chambers. 
What fascinated you to choose law as a career?

I had never planned for a career in law but there a couple of events in my school days enhanced my liking towards the profession. During school days, I was very involved in debates and elocutions so I was always very vocal about my opinions. I was always questioning societal norms and the way things are.

Also, I was one of those science students, who was not interested in pursuing Engineering. I was rather interested in pursuing the Civil Services, so that is what got me inclined towards the legal profession.

What is the role of academics in a law student’s life?

I honestly believe that academics play a very important role. This is not just for the purpose of scoring good grades but the legal profession requires one to keep reading constantly, to be updated about what is happening in the world, to know the art of interpreting different statutes and policies. I believe Academics can be one of the ways of pushing yourself in that direction. All these skills don’t come at once. Academics is not the only way to sharpen your analytical skills, but it is surely a means to that end, and I think of the important ones.

How can one do well in academics?

There is no hard and fast rule as to how one can score good marks in academics. However, you cannot do well just by memorizing one day before the exam. A lot of continuous reading is required. One needs to be focused and organised in his/her work. So, you must allocate the right amount of time to each subject according to your liking and disliking and more than that, taking out time to reflect at what you have read. That is the mantra I followed during law school. It is necessary to understand the basic concept underlying any particular topic. So one has to find one’s own way of allocating time and importance to each subject.

For writing effective answers, one should be very precise. I was personally never in favour of writing elaborate answers and filing pages. My answers used to be very concise and succinct. I used to explain things with examples, whether it is a case law or some hypothetical example yielding to that particular question. I never believed in writing just theories, instead I applied my analytical skills to it and tried to be practical about what is asked.

People who have good memory don’t find it difficult to remember sections or case laws. For me, it came from regular reading. So for example, when one is working on a case day in and day out, it is always at the back of one’s mind. So, keep reading constantly and you will get the legal provision or case law blocked in a part of your mind. You will have to keep updating yourself and this is only possible through reading.

How should one balance the activities in Law School?

I think it’s all about once interests and inclinations that helps balance various activities. So, I was around people who used to balance academics with moots, debating, sports, music events and college events. One needs to decide what is more important and valuable in the long run. I was myself not good at prioritising things in my first two years. I was mostly focused on academics and that made me lose out on other things like moots, debates, MUNs that I wanted to participate in the initial years.

In my third year, I got involved in mooting and that is when I realised that there is no one aspect to the Legal Profession. So, then I knew that I had to handle academics, publish papers, participate in other events, spend some time with my friends because one cannot be just involved in these activities and not have any leisure activities. By this time, I had realised that the profession I have chosen, would require me to manage multiple things simultaneously. So I was more clear-headed. I used to prepare work schedules for the day, and accordingly manage my time.

So I believe one has to introspect on what’s more important and valuable in the long-run, to decide how to allocate time to the different activities one is involved in.

How should students go about academic writing?

As a budding lawyer, you are told about the importance of academic writing in the first year itself. It is one of the other means to critically analyse and interpret the new laws, contrast them with the old ones, weighing the pros and cons of the changes being brought in, etc. As much as it is important to write research Papers, I think it is more important to feel an urge to write on a particular topic. It is should not be like, when a new law or amendment is brought, you think of writing about it without even understanding it. You should do a good research of the background of the law to understand if it is actually extracting that interest out of you. One should not write articles just to publish in world known journals and blogs. He/she should rather write to enhance skills on topics that really captivate his/her attention.

One has to be very careful while choosing the right journal or blog. Look at the organization, the editors, and the past publications of that particular blog or journal. These are the ways to gauge the quality of the journal and then finalize. I personally do not favour paid publications because they do not have a good effect on your CV and you don’t get that motivation out of it. First, you should focus on quality writing and then look for the places to publish with.

Nowadays, various Universities have their own journals or blogs. Some of them are pretty good; some of them have just started and are in the run. In this run, some journals and blogs are compromising on the quality. So, one has to be very careful in deciding where to get your article published. Also, one must look at the guidelines of the blog or journal to structure the writing. I have been told by my mentor, that you must always build a structure and then furnish it. So structuring plays a very important role in academic writing.

How should students go about planning their internships?

I think the only way to plan your internships is to go in consonance with your interest. At my Law College, we were already given a structure. So, we had to begin from an NGO internship, then subsequently Trial Court, High Court, Supreme Court/ Law Firms. This was to ensure interned in all possible forums to find our inclination. I decided the places to intern at, based on the subjects I had studied in the semester to know more about a particular area. I used to apply well in advance, to make sure I don’t miss out on an opportunity. I have interned at both Law Firms and Chambers, worked in different areas of law, so it has been more of a hit and trial method that worked in my favour.

How should one go about deciding his career between litigation, corporate or in house?

So, you can decide your career only after pursuing internships. You cannot decide your career unless you have lived that sort of life, even if that is for a short span of time. So, unless you intern at a Chamber, you would not realise the hustle bustle that goes around in litigation, running from one courtroom to another. Similarly, you cannot decide whether, Mergers and Acquisition as a field of law, really interest you, unless you have worked on Mergers and Acquisitions or due diligence Matters.

Even while studying subjects in law school, we realise our area of interest. But to be extremely sure, we need to intern in that field to decide if we want to make a career in the same.

I am now a litigating lawyer. I have done around 5-6 internships in Chambers to understand and decide if I wanted to start my career in litigation. And it does help in knowing the nuances of the field as well.

Which Moot Court Competitions did you participate in during law school? How to do well in Moot Court Competitions?   

I have participated in 4 moot court competitions in my law school. The first one was in my third year of law school- Henry Dunant Memorial Moot Court Competition, national rounds. After winning the national rounds, we qualified for the South Asian rounds. On winning the south Asian rounds, we qualified for the world rounds at Red Cross in Hong Kong. There we were quarter-finalist. And since we qualified for the South Asian rounds, we received an invitation for the 31st Concours Jean Pictet Competition at France.  It was a moot-cum-training competition where at every level the moot problem is expanded and you have limited time to prepare your case. There were 8 to 10 teams in every round, so it was more of a group discussion involving legal matters. It taught us to be spontaneous. There again, our prior reading of the law really helped.

The only way to do well in Moot Court Competitions is to be very honest towards them and work hard enough. For me, Mooting was never just a co-curricular activity rather it was a journey I wanted to live. So, I tried to be very focused and dedicated.

During my first moot court competition, I was very much focused on the fact of the case because I think that it is the facts that can make or break your case. The law part is usually secondary. You need to work day in and day out, if you really want to excel in it. Also, be organised and prioritize things. More than anything else, you need to be true to yourself. Whenever you are stuck in a particular law, seek help from your mentors and expand your horizon. Mooting brings people closer in the legal profession.

So, to excel in a moot court competitions, you have to be really dedicated and hard-working. Also, it is important to stay positive at all times because mooting can be pressurizing sometimes.

Advice for law students

My first and foremost advice will be to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Focus on reading, be it books related to law or autobiographies of legal luminaries. Do not leave reading at all. My mentor told me it is very important for law students to read at least one judgment per day. So one must do that for long-term benefits. Prioritise things. Be organised and true to your work. Interact with people.

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