Introduce yourself to our readers. (Which generation of lawyer are you?) Please tell us about your family back ground?
Hello readers, my name is Vatsalya Vigya, a graduate of Chanakya National Law University. I’m a first generation lawyer belonging to a Lower middle class family hailing from Patna. My father is a Govt. employee and my mother is a House Maker.
Where did you go for your schooling? What were your aspirations when you were in school?
I did my schooling from Don Bosco Academy, Patna. When I was in School, I was good at mathematics and therefore as the general trend of Bihar goes, even I wanted to do UPSC or engineering. Even study of Medicine was also an option as till 12-13 years of age, you can think of all the options.
Which factors do you believe shaped your decision to pursue law?
It was the year 2001, when I was in 7th Grade and I was looking for some career option, when I came across Law as a Career. I told the same to my father, citing reasons that studying Physics is not my cup of tea and therefore Law seems to be a better option, he was very supportive and instantly gave a nod to my aspirations. Going for non conventional course in the year 2001 was a big decision and therefore I give my parents the credit for supporting me in all my decisions.
Your experience at CNLU? What were the activities in which you were involved passionately?
Chankya National Law University, was my best time of my life. I was involved in few of the activities. A few moot courts and a few debates participation was what I did. If we have to talk about doing a thing Passionately, it was studies and Internships.
Could you tell about your internship experiences? What sort of internships did you prefer and what learning experiences did you gain from it?
I was very passionate about internships and in my college life of 5 years, I did around 13 internships ranging from District Court to Hon’ble Supreme Court from Law firms to PSU’s. I preferred internships in Indirect Tax, Commercial Litigation and Arbitration. Internship basically teaches you about the work timings and discipline. When one start interning, it is like you are in shoes of a lawyer, and working towards the same is what makes interning fun and a good learning experience.
Any remarkable experiences during your internships that shaped your career?
Once, I was interning with Khaitan & Co., Delhi Office with the tax team, when I was given a research. I did that research and was waiting for my mentor to ask for the same. My mentor asked for the research only after 4 days and I gave him the research. He took the research and asked me what is the authority followed in this case and whether did I find any similar cases in foreign texts. I replied “No”. At that moment he said, the work of JUST finding a case could have been done by a peon of his but he gave it to me because, he thought I could do justice to that research. That one incident made me realize that how a work when assigned needs to be done in all the way possible. I still owe this to my mentor from Khaitan & Co.
What is your area of specialization? When and why did you decide to pursue career in it?
When you are practicing law before the Hon’ble Supreme Court, area of specialization basically sums down to how well you argue. Even in that case, I have a good command over consumer issues, all kinds of commercial litigation especially arbitration, land Reforms/ Land Acquistion, caste scrutiny act etc.
What were your areas of interest during your graduation? How did you go about developing expertise and knowledge in these areas?
I always had interest in litigation and arguing before Courts. I had special interest in procedural laws which is very important for litigation. I used to follow a very simple way of learning. Every day after college (it used to be over by 1:15Pm), I used to go to a lower court lawyer for learning the procedural laws. I did it for good three years and above and that helped me with being well versed with the procedural laws and its application in courts even before I graduated.
What are your thoughts on activities like mooting, debating and publications in law? What skills do law students acquire by engaging themselves in such activities and their value on CV? How much moot differ from actual proceeding in the courts?
Mooting, debating and publications in law are very important in shaping up a life of a law student. Like mooting and debating removes your fear of speaking before an audience and Law Publication helps in your drafting. It is one of the most important aspect for a law student.
Moot Courts and actual proceedings in a court is very different. The Question asked in a Moot Court is entirely on the topic one has made the memorial on but inside the court, the question can be anything and on any topic. Once I was asked inside the court as to why do we celebrate 19th November and if I can answer this the court will give a date of hearing. I being very young in this profession, callously answered that one of our ex Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was born on this day and that was the answer the court was looking (Observing that I was very young lawyer). Moot Courts are good but it is not the only parameter to judge a person whether he can speak inside the court or not.
You worked at the Chambers of Sudhanshu S Choudhari. Please describe to us your role there. How you managed to get placed there?
Working with Sudhanshu Sir was the best learning expierence one junior lawyer can ever get. I was the only junior attached with his office and the office had a huge work load. Office used to start at 10 am in the morning and used to go till late in the night, like 11pm was a regular time. My role was to assist on all cases and prepare drafts of new cases and notes on matter posted for hearing. My role was also to brief the senior counsel whenever the need arises. Being the only junior of the office, I used to handle all sorts of work related to the office.
I graduated in the year 2012 and was working with another Maharashtra Lawyer when I got to see Sudhanshu Sir arguing in a matter and then I approached him and somehow managed to get an opportunity to work with him.
Please share some of your experiences with. Adv. Choudhari.
I started working with him in the Year 2013 January. Sudhanshu Sir is a very hard working person and used to work till late night just to see the end of the case. I was very “just passed out law school” student and was more in having work mixed with leisure. He used to be always my guiding force and used to advice like an elder brother. He used to check all the drafts I used to draft and also used to teach me on all the law points. He used to give numerous matters to argue before all forums at New Delhi and even before the Hon’ble Supreme Court. There was one incident when Sudhanshu Sir gave a matter to argue before the Hon’ble Supreme Court and the case was entirely on Law point. I was prepared for the case with all my research work, cases, notes etc. I argued for a good 40 mins with Sudhanshu Sir on my side and fortunately the matter was decided in my favour and to add the cherry, the said case was reported in Supreme Court Cases.
What inspired you to choose litigation as a profession? What are its pros and cons? People say salary in litigation is drastically low even if you work with a senior advocate. Your take on that.
As I have said, I always loved litigation. I used to read a lot about the great Nani Palikiwala. Anyone who reads that book thoroughly will develop a feeling for Litigation. Pros: only If you love litigation, it will pay you. The only profession where hard work pays you in true sense.
Cons: Initial payment is one major concern. Secondly you have to work 20 hours a day seven days a week.
We have to see what has to be done, if the hard work pays you in learning experience, then according to me nothing is more lucrative than this. With more experience, the life turns out to be the most subtle one.
Should an aspiring law student prefer NLUs over conventional universities? What is better at NLUs; except high fees and “great infrastructure”?
NLUs are any day better than those conventional colleges. Few reasons to support the contention:
- The curriculum is always better as in the very first year, the students are taught law subjects which help them in getting a clear idea about the profession they are in, rather introducing them to ARTS subject for first two years.
- The curriculum also boasts about all the new subjects and modern laws. The conventional colleges are lacking in this area.
Would you like to comment on the quality of academics at CNLU during your tenure? Did the university provide you sufficient time to indulge in other socio-political activities?
In my time, CNLU had brilliant teachers and they always encouraged us for other socio-political activities.
I was always interested towards litigation and therefore I was never a part of this discussion in college, as I was most of the time in lower courts working with someone.
You are an independent practitioner at Supreme Court since 2016. What takes to become independent? Your advice to young students, without any background in law, who want to start practicing independently.
Your hard work will pay off good dividends. I became independent and I also never had any background in law to support myself. The only thing that prompted me to become an independent counsel was one reason, the urge to grow. This urge grows inside you only after you have put in hard work and has learned enough to start its own. I was fortunate to be part of such an office where the work load was humongous and being the only junior, I had no time left to ponder on this and therefore I just put down my head and worked.
Advice: If one has to start independent practice, he has to be a junior of someone and just put down your head and just work. One should not worry about the remuneration or your social life, the basic rule is to work and work hard in litigation. Just remember this profession will pay your hard work.
You have also taught Contract Laws to aspiring law student at the coaching institute. Do you have any passion for teaching?
I love teaching. Teaching for leisure and practice law for life. I used to teach Law to young aspiring lawyers and used to tell them how Law is lovely as a profession and how it is one’s own interpretation which can lead to a successful life. Teaching has always been my vacation work to keep myself engaged. What started as a leisure thing when I was in 4th year of Law School turned out to be a regular event in my life.
How much grades matter for making a career in litigation? Tell us about other activities which play a major role.
Grades in my opinion have some value but it is not the only thing which matters. Anyone who has a better understanding of law can be a good lawyer, the marks is just an indicative that the person is a good student. Marks will never determine a person’s intelligence.
What according to you should be the top-most things in the to-do list of someone aspiring to follow your footsteps?
Study the bare acts as thoroughly as possible. It has all the answers. When a [person transform from a student to a lawyer, he is required to know the law and landmark judgments and nothing else. Knowledge of laws can only be achieved by reading the bare acts thoroughly.
Moreover, one should also be open to all kinds of learning from any age. Learning can be done at any age and one should not be hesitant in learning.
What would be the one misconception you’d say you’d always held about real life legal work till the time you were an intern but changed once you started working as a lawyer?
Till the time we are an intern, life seems beautiful, with no pressure from the clients and all. Once you become a lawyer, then one get to know the real side of the practice, where you have to run after literally everyone, right from the clients to your clerk and to your associates. This running and managing work is not known to the interns, which in my opinion is a very tedious work.
What would be your parting message to law students who want pursue career in litigation?
If one is interested in Litigation, then that person will never be tired of his work as every new day has new challenges to complete but if he has been forced to do litigation, the person will start cribbing and it will be very tough for the person to cope up with the new challenges thrown at him every day.
My advice to all the students thinking of taking litigation as your career, just start working. Put your head down and work. Just remember all the great lawyers have always been litigation lawyers.
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