Sir Dinshah Fardunji Mulla (also known as Dinshaw Mulla) is undoubtedly one of our most prolific legal writers. If you have studied law you would have come across his commentaries on Civil Procedure Code, Hindu Law, Mahomedan Law, and the Contract Act. His books have been revised and updated over the years, and are authoritative sources in their respective fields.
However, there is an amusing story behind his journey to becoming a lawyer, as narrated by Fali S. Nariman in his autobiography, ‘Before Memory Fades‘. Mr. Nariman’s biography is a treasure trove for anyone with an interest in law or history. After all, being one of India’s top lawyer would at the least ensure that you have a ton of stories when you look back.
In the first chapter of his book, Nariman starts by saying that “to choose a career wisely, when you are in your teens or early twenties, is a very difficult decision“; something all of us will relate to. To show the quandary of a young student and also how things often fall into place by themselves, Mulla’s story comes to his mind. Since I won’t be able to tell it better than Nariman himself, here is the quote from his book:
“When Mulla was in college studying English literature, he used to write poems; worse, he even fancied himself a poet. So, after he graduated with a BA (literature), he thought he would write poetry for a living but someone advised him to take up law. Being in two minds, he picked up pen and paper, and quite impetuously wrote a letter to the then poet laureate, Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809–92), enclosing a few of his choicest pieces.
Mulla anxiously waited for a reply. In those days, letters to England went only by sea.
Then, sure enough, one day he received a frank response from the great man himself, written in his own hand: ‘Dear Mr Mulla, I have carefully gone through all your poems. I think you should try the law.’”
It all turned out to be for the best, as Nariman himself notes that had Tennyson advised Mulla to continue with poetry, India would have lost one of her finest jurist.
Mulla then went on to practice at the Bombay High Court, and taught law at Government Law College, Bombay. He was also a Member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, India and was knighted and appointed to the Privy Council, England.
Later in the book, while talking about some everyday issues while running an office, Nariman says, “Great lawyers instinctively know that luck or Providence – or call it what you will – plays such a major role in their lives and in their success, that they never push it too hard!”
Whenever law students face similar troubles about career choices, one should remember that with a bit of luck (and lots of hard work) things will (more often than not) work out.
We understand that choices seem super difficult when you are looking forward. To help you along the way, we regularly organize career workshops. If you want to know more about them, you could check them out here. If you would be interested in them in future, drop a comment below.
Note: This article was first published in December 2020.
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