Interview with Srishti Sharma, SLS Alum @ AZB, Delhi: “Be Wary of Complacency”; “How Symbhav Changed My Life”; “Separating the Personal-Professional”

Campus Journalist Neeati Narayan recently interviewed Symbiosis Law School, Pune alumnus, Sirshti Sharma. Srishti is currently working at AZB, New Delhi as an associate. Below are the excerpts of the interview-

BEST OF THE INTERVIEW:

Q. Things you’d advice others to stay wary of?

A. Getting complacent! It is easy to just get stuck in the daily deadlines of –assignments, lectures etc. You should really go ahead and do something you really like even if it does not fit in with the typical law school schedule. 

While its completely normal for students from other non-law colleges, law students have this tendency to look down upon extra-curriculars, which I feel is pretty sad and also harmful for us. It should be totally cool for a law school student to also be participating in dance competitions, fashion shows, plays, acapella competitions etc.

More importantly, it is good for you and leads to a more wholesome sort of a growth. So yeah, stay wary of stereotypes and complacency? Take that extra step today, now! Form a dance troupe in your college, sign up for the Teach for India programme, organize a charity drive, just do something that makes you look and think beyond law.

Skills you’d pick up while doing a Parliamentary Debate or organising a Fest, might actually be of as much (if not more) help to you more when you’re negotiating a contract or pleading in court, than that essay you might have written on “Skills of a good Negotiator”.

 

What is the real world like? 

It’s not that different from a college student’s life right now. Work Life will have the same components that you already face in college -hierarchy, politics, deadline, all nighters etc.

It’s just the degrees that of course change. The major change that does happen, is in the amount of free time that you’re left with. I miss just hanging put in the college canteen for hours wid a cup of chai, or just waking up early in the morning and heading out for some vada pao.

 

You cannot carry your personal life into professional life. A deadline is a deadline, irrespective of the fact that you might be fighting with your best friend. It’s very important to draw that line.

Professionally, you have to be dedicated and you need to know what you want. You need a work-face. You don’t have to wallow in ‘fakeness’, but if you are having a bad day, your personal life cannot meddle with the professional one. You need to learn to get to office and be normal throughout the day.

Honestly, your personal life really doesn’t matter two pence in a working environment. You can’t be throwing attitude or having sad or angry moments or mood swings.

First impressions are not last impressions, but they are definitely long lasting. In college, repercussions aren’t permanent. Make mistakes and learn from them.

However, if your work place boss thinks you have attitude, you are in deep sh*t. No kidding. So you need to develop a neutral work face which remains unfazed through your personal ups and downs.

Hi Srishti! Tell us something about yourself?

I had a fantastic childhood. My dad’s in the army, and you can say I had a pretty typical clichéd childhood. I’d go to school, do my homework, go swimming, read a book, go for dance classes, come back home and sleep.

Post school, I spent my 5 years of law school in Pune with some of the best people anyone could’ve asked for as friends. As a person, I am very optimistic and positive, to the point of being irritating, because I can go on and on about looking at the bright side”.

If I have some free time, you’d probably see me catching up on some reading and listening to music. Oh, and I love dancing!!

Your sources of inspiration i.e. your driving forces?

Again, I will resort to a clichéd answer; my driving force is definitely my mom. Even if I were to grade objectively, I’d say she really is the world’s best mother. She has been amazingly supportive, always been there for me and I would not be anywhere in life without her.

Figuratively speaking, my mother is the daal, roti of my life and dad’s like the salt. They’re either hyper or relaxed about alternate things, so together they mostly balance each other out.

Why did you choose law?

I was never interested in fashion, engineering, medical or any of the other stuff people wanted to do back then. I was mostly always leaning towards a long term goal of doing a MBA and being a cool ass entrepreneur of some sort.

I started thinking about law as a career choice sometime during Class X. In school we had this flyer up for a Career Launcher session on law Schools and law as a profession, I dragged my mum along for it that weekend, came back with an arm load of brochures, and I was hooked!

At that point of time, law was  probably on the verge of being cool, so the question of “what do you want to do after Class XII beta?” always required a long winding explanation from me, but thankfully my parents never questioned or doubted my decision and even went on to attend multiple other such seminars with me.

After Class XII, I wrote the zillion different entrance exams (we didn’t have CLAT then), and ended up coming to Symbiosis. I still want to at some point in my life fulfil my dream of doing an MBA, but I have many other things planned out for immediate future. 

How was the law school journey?

It was beyond fantastic. I still can’t believe its over. It wasn’t just the fact that I was studying something I really enjoyed, it was more like a brilliant combination of that and Pune as a city, my hostel girls, seniors in college, friends and Symbi’s super flexible curriculum that allowed us to do so much more besides just studying or mooting.

Through my five years, as a part of extra-curriculars, we did dance competitions, flash mobs, organized conclaves and cultural fests, did parliamentary debating and also organized a pet adoption camp! I can say without a doubt that I was fortunate enough to get the best college for myself, at the best place and with the best group of friends I could’ve ever asked for.

Things you liked to do in the law school?

Let me start with how I did not like mooting or writing legal essays. I gave mooting multiple shots, hoping to find what the whole *hullabo* was about. What I did enjoy however, was debating, especially Parliamentary Debating and taking part in Model United Nations.

I would also say that Symbhav (Symbhav is the annual cultural/legal fest hosted by Symbiosis Law School, Pune) was a game changer for me and I loved being a part of the entire fest. Being a part of the Student Council at college was also a very interesting experience.

Of course if you’re in Symbi, then NCC and Chandu’s Chai also make up a very important aspect of your law school experience.

Things you’d advice others to stay wary of?

Getting complacent! It is easy to just get stuck in the daily deadlines of –assignments, lectures etc. You should really go ahead and do something you really like even if it does not fit in with the typical law school schedule.

While its completely normal for students from other non-law colleges, law students have this tendency to look down upon extra-curriculars, which I feel is pretty sad and also harmful for us. It should be totally cool for a law school student to also be participating in dance competitions, fashion shows, plays, acapella competitions etc.

More importantly, it is good for you and leads to a more wholesome sort of a growth. So yeah, stay wary of stereotypes and complacency? Take that extra step today, now! Form a dance troupe in your college, sign up for the Teach for India programme, organize a charity drive, just do something that makes you look and think beyond law.

Skills you’d pick up while doing a Parliamentary Debate or organising a Fest, might actually be of as much (if not more) help to you more when you’re negotiating a contract or pleading in court, than that essay you might have written on “Skills of a good Negotiator”.

Your biggest achievements in law school?

Surprisingly, most of my achievements through law school have been disconnected with law, my ups and downs through my college life are not related to law or academics.

However, if I had to put down one very important achievement of sort, it would be my participation in Symbhav 2012. I was a different person after February 2012. I was heading the Sponsorship Committee that year, and that year we were the largest fest in Pune based sheerly on the Sponsorship kitty we ended up with. I’m not showing off, I’m just a very proud ex-Symbhav OC member.

We had to face crazy work hours, loads of stress and organising and managing the fest was a an experience I’d never thought I’d have as a college student. It was all about selling your fest or representing your college, making marketing pitches, negotiating with the secretaries of various celebrities.

I think all this made me much more confident and self assured and also resulted in me making and learning from mistakes that I could’ve otherwise been making at office/work right now. I would term the 4 months that went into organising Symbhav’12 a “Life skill crash course”.

P.S. We did a pretty phenomenal job again this year, in fact I took a couple of days off, and was in Pune for this year’s Symbhav.

Your personal failures?

I think failures go hand in hand with regrets. As I mentioned before, I am a very optimistic person and therefore, I don’t really regret too many things. I know it sounds very corny.

Regrets that I have are mostly related to relationships and friendships.

However, I don’t have any regrets academically or professionally.

Subjects you liked the most? Any particular professor who inspired you?

Constitutional law! It is the backbone of our rozi roti. I think it’s extremely fascinating how it is a mix of a whole lot of subjects – there is a little bit of Criminal, Human Rights, Admin law and even Jurisprudence involved. I also liked Women and law but that’s really because I am a feminist, and not so much because of the course structure.

I’m also a Company Law fan.

As far as the faculty is concerned, no specific name jumps out when I think of a figure that was inspiring. However, I think the two people who made life in college a lot easier and were super approachable and helpful were Prof. Joshua Aston and Prof. Rawandale.

Some important things which law school didn’t teach you but ‘working’ did? 

Law school does not prepare you for work. Only internships can prepare you for what you are going to face. What’s missing from our law school curriculum right now is a reality check. I’d say law school preps you for your internships, and you’ll be able to learn as much as you can about ‘working’ from your internships.

Drafting is another important facet of the profession which is not really concentrated upon in college.

And law school definitely doesn’t prepare you for litigation. Litigation is actually so much different from Mooting. Nobody goes “Your Lordship, this is the counsel on behalf of the,…” in the court room..

What does your CV look like? Any myth breakers?

I was the sort of person who’s put in her 200% on an internship.

One myth which is highly persistent is that being good academically or being a good mooter makes you a good lawyer or gets you a good placement.

I wasn’t a role model student.

I’ve gotten thrown out of class for using my cell phone during a lecture and also for talking too much and once almost for falling asleep.

I’ve also not been somebody who’s gotten the highest marks in all the subjects, but I was the sort of person who’s put in her 200% on an internship.

Technically, out of a batch of 100 students and 4 sections/devisions, you may have 1  student from every section who aces all the exams. But it does naturally translate into meaning that those 4 students will be the only successful ones. Along with academics, the way you think and your work ethic is also what makes you.

A life beyond academics is actually needed to grow more wholesomely. One good thing about Symbi is that we had less stereotypes as compared to other law schools.

So yeah my CV has above average marks, a couple of good internships and a whole load of extra curriculars like parliamentary debates, MUNs and even one moot.

What according to you should be the focus of the law students at law school? How should they shape up their potential career graph?

Academics versus extra curriculars aside, it is very important for you to know where you want to go and how are you planning to get there. One needs to be goal-oriented.

You have to set targets and goals for yourself, have a mindset which says that at the ‘end of my __ year I will take a call on whether  I want to do “option 1” or “option 2”’!

Once you’re sorted on the direction you want to be going in, you can start lining up internships that take you further down that path.

Also, this way you still have enough time to change your stream and change your interests altogether, should the practical/internship experience not match your expectations. When thinking about your career, you should also be  looking at what you like doing and then working towards making that happen.

Working at AZB.

It is absolutely fantastic. I am very lucky to have a team that has some very phenomenol people. The work environment is professional but also relaxed, and the seniors are very approachable. I think what works for AZB Delhi, is that most associates here have a really good work ethic, which also stems from the fact that they are all extremely intelligent and competent (professionally).

It’s nice to be working with people who you can look up to and be inspired by. It’s the sort of work environment where you can turn around to the person next to you for a quick chat over a chai break or go up to the same person to discuss a law related issue that you can’t seem to get the hang off.

A typical day at office can involve crazy late hours (if there’s a deadline to be met). But, I love what I am doing and I’m pretty okay with this schedule as I knew what I signed up for.

What is the real world like? 

It’s not that different from a college student’s life right now. Work Life will have the same components that you already face in college -hierarchy, politics, deadline, all nighters etc.

It’s just the degrees that of course change. The major change that does happen, is in the amount of free time that you’re left with. I miss just hanging put in the college canteen for hours wid a cup of chai, or just waking up early in the morning and heading out for some vada pao.

What would be your 3 biggest piece of advises to law students entering the profession?  

1. Be absolutely sure of where you want to be either right now, or set a timeline for the future. (though I’d suggest by the time you’re in your 3rd year you should have a god idea of where you’re heading or want to head).

Next, put in the extra mile to make it work. You have to be absolutely sure of what you are looking in a job, be it easy working hours or a good professional environment or a field of law that interests you.

2. Like I mentioned before, its not extra curriculars versus academics. It’s both. Law is one profession where you need a lot more than just academic knowledge to succeed.

3. You cannot carry your personal life into professional life. A deadline is a deadline, irrespective of the fact that you might be fighting with your best friend. It’s very important to draw that line.

Professionally, you have to be dedicated and you need to know what you want. You need a work-face. You don’t have to wallow in ‘fakeness’, but if you are having a bad day, your personal life cannot meddle with the professional one. You need to learn to get to office and be normal throughout the day.

Honestly, your personal life really doesn’t matter two pence in a working environment. You can’t be throwing attitude or having sad or angry moments or mood swings.

First impressions are not last impressions, but they are definitely long lasting. In college, repercussions aren’t permanent. Make mistakes and learn from them.

However, if your work place boss thinks you have attitude, you are in deep sh*t. No kidding. So you need to develop a neutral work face which remains unfazed through your personal ups and downs.

Interview some kick-ass person from your law school and send us the questions and the answers at [email protected]

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Comments Till Now

  1. Anonymous says:

    Insightful. Even her interview was resourceful. Its a joy to read on how some students participate in so many extra curricular activities yet manage to keep an excellent score. Thumbs up!

  2. It is Srishti Sharma. No, you are not supposed to read the interview. You can exercise your freedom to CHOOSE. Ignore it simply!

    Why I chose Srishti-
    1. She breaks the myths related to academics.
    2. She is working for one of the best firms and has pretty much a first hand experience.
    3. She is amazingly resourceful and helpful.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why do we have interviews with shristi singh??? Are we to read interviews from everyone and anyone??

    • administrator says:

      We publish interviews with ‘small stars’; young people like us, who we can look up to and relate to.

      • Anonymous says:

        er… why would we want to know about the life of “small star”. your explanation is beyond me.. After reading some 5k words, I would have nothing to gain inspiration from ??? ( no offence to the “small stars”)…

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