By Pankhuri Mehndiratta –
My tryst with the law and CLAT was neither thought out nor planned.
In fact, I was intent on studying journalism at a reputed institution abroad but my father’s apprehensions regarding me being sent abroad at a rather young age resulted in me discovering law.
At the time, my best friend was preparing diligently to appear for CLAT and, in the absence of a clear plan of action, I started doing the same.
As each moment passed, law and its basic components such as criminal law, tort law and logic appealed to me more and more and my interest in law kept on growing.
As the decision to appear for CLAT was taken at the fag-end of class 12, I joined as a crash course student at a leading coaching institute in my hometown and effectively had just forty days to prepare for it.
Expectations from law school
As I do not belong to a family of lawyers, my ideas and perception about law school and expectations from the same were restricted.
When I entered law school, my only expectation was to earn myself a decent corporate job at the completion of my degree and, like most others; I strolled into law school with this idea.
At the same time, the idea that I would at least complete a master’s degree had been clearly instilled in me by my parents and an LLM degree always featured in my scheme of things.
However, shortly after, I was exposed to a diverse range of subjects that are taught at law school and in the course of time, I began to recognize that my interests lay on planes that were nowhere close to the commercial and corporate sector.
I realized my interests in the fields of international humanitarian law and international criminal law.
A painful yet prestigious internship at a reputed law firm in my second year confirmed to me that I was not made for the rather drab field of Corporate Law.
Once I came to law school, I realized that CLAT was a rather overrated and a small battle as compared to sticking it out at law school. Here one was competing against equally smart and talented people who had cleared that dreaded exam. This was the real test.
Coming to law school taught me a lot of things that a regular college degree could, perhaps, never have.
I discovered a rather arduous and strict work ethic which shall remain with me forever and I will remain eternally grateful to my law school education for it.
In addition to this, an analytical bent of mind together with the ability to question each given situation and an independent thought process make me thank the entire law school experience.
In addition to this, the friendships that I formed along the way, though few, but extremely worthwhile, are a gift that law school gave me! 🙂
Although law school can prove to be a little more than you can chew especially in the initial years when one is not sure about one’s interests and inclinations, it definitely imbibes in you the skill to multitask and handle work pressure which inevitably stands you in good stead under any circumstance.
Also, it is almost a given rule that you leave law school a better writer and researcher than when you came in and you can thank your countless projects and paper submissions which you are bound to most abhor during these years for the same!
Further, the magnitude of things you learn and the amount you mature once you step out of the protective confines of your hometown, school friends and familiar surroundings can never be emphasized to its fullest.
Moreover, the exposure that one gets owing to various internship opportunities that are an inextricable part of the law school package adds not only to one’s CV but also to one’s experiences as well as confidence as internships for a non resident of Delhi/Mumbai/Bangalore generally involve travelling to different places over the holidays.
Although I have to admit that law school is not milk and roses always and has its fair shares of lows which manifest themselves in the form of unhealthily competitive people or people who will want to take advantage of your faith and friendship with them.
Sometimes you may be left doubting yourself and your ability as a law student because you know there are people who appear to be much smarter or better connected or better mooters than you are.
But the underlying magic formula for such rainy days is to have unwavering faith in yourself and not to be too hard on yourself for there are only so many things that you can be good at.
The best thing to do to yourself in a law school is to identify that and do those things and trust your intuition to guide you in that direction. Trust me, you do not have to kill yourself over a corporate job where each minute seems like an hour just because everybody in your batch is doing so.
You are your only judge and your only competition – the earlier you learn these lessons, the happier you will be!
The best thing that I find about this profession is that it is highly compatible with all branches of study – everyone from a hospital to a media house needs a lawyer and if a desk job is not your thing, then abundant opportunities await you in litigation, research, politics, social work, think tanks and policy groups –and these are only a few avenues that I have enlisted.
(See HERE for more info on career options in law).
If I were to sum up the survival strategy in a law school (if such a thing can be assumed to exist), it would be best reflected in Charles Bukowski’s saying : “Find what you love and let it kill you.”