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Interview of Abhishek Chaturvedi: Academics, Clerkship at NGT and Independent Litigation

By: Aditya Anand | July 15, 2019

Abhishek Chaturvedi graduated from ICFAI Law School, Dehradun as the silver medalist of his batch. He went to the National Green Tribunal for clerkship and is now an independent practitioner at Jharkhand High Court.

How would you introduce yourself to our readers?

Introvert, observant and dedicated to anything I put my mind on. Graduated in 2015 from ICFAI Law School, I.C.F.A.I University, Dehradun, I worked for a few organizations for exposure and experience in other fields of law before joining litigation in 2016 under the mentorship of Senior Advocate Mr. Rajiv Ranjan, Jharkhand High Court at Ranchi.

After 2 and half years of learning and experience, I parted ways to start my own litigation practice in Ranchi.  I deal with civil and criminal matters, especially service matters at Hon’ble Jharkhand High Court.

Why did you choose law as a career? When did you make the decision?

It is very important that one knows his/her skill set. In my opinion, skill/skills are more important than passion. Passion burns out after some point of time without skills which has been my experience in life. Everyone has certain talents which they need to recognize earlier in their life.

In my case, not only I was a good orator but also had analytical/diagnostic skills which I know could be used in other walks of life too, but out of a few options available, I found law as a career most satisfying and augmentative to my skills. Since I was actively pursuing and improving my skill set right from my school days, it was an easy but thoughtful pick for me.

How was your law school journey?

My father, a lawyer, told me once that “Law cannot be taught and one has to learn it by himself”. I came to law school sceptical of my father’s opinion, but when I dived in the world of lectures and books; I came to realize that he was right. A lecturer can only give you a glimpse of the law through textbooks unless you are being taught by law professionals which rarely happens but the rest is up to the student.

My law school was more like an office, offering 10 to 5 working environment, which at times was tedious, but such is the demand of the course. One has to learn to make a balance which isn’t easy, but I had few activities to keep me calm and composed which helped me sail through the law school.

Tell us about your stellar academic record.

As I mentioned above, knowing your skill set is important, which in itself is a gigantic task. When you know what you want to achieve from a certain situation, planning becomes easy. I never for a moment believed that I couldn’t achieve something. I shall be honest, marks wasn’t a priority to me, unlike my peers whose life depended on evaluation by others and not by themselves.

I had a fixed goal to understand the concept conscientiously thrown during lectures. I used to spend most of my time in the library studying and I went through books/ journals from every segment and not just law books. It allowed me to gain vast knowledge which in my opinion is must to have skill for any student.

I knew while writing answers that I had more to offer unlike most of my peers whose answers were limited to the notes they had prepared during lectures or cramming theories.

Instead of filling up numerous sheets of papers, I was precise and focused on interpretations and opinions, which was appreciated by most of the evaluators. Moreover, learning law was a fun task, thus putting no pressure on me and helping me excel in academics.

How was your experience as a judicial law clerk at National Green Tribunal?

I had the privilege to assist some of the best judicial minds, but I do not think that one must stick to such work for a longer period of time because of the limited exposure clerkship provides.

My responsibilities were limited to research, preparing briefs and assisting the members in advancing judgments which after a point of time wasn’t challenging enough. I enjoyed my stay and left when there was nothing more it could offer to me.

Tell us about your decision of practising at Jharkhand High Court.

It was based on different factors and convenience of playing in the home ground was one of them. I knew that I would be having access to the local territories and friends and relatives helping me out in the long run.

I did intern with one of the senior advocates here and the experience therein convinced me to join the familiar faces to ease out the pressure. In other words, I played it safe to cope up with the initial struggles of litigation which I knew I would be facing.

How is the litigation experience different at Ranchi as compared to Delhi?

The only difference, in my opinion, is the pay. Delhi, while can offer better pay to the young litigants which still shall be meagre in comparison to work done, Ranchi, as I have experienced, has a low cost of living and hence works just fine.

Don’t get me wrong, Delhi still has more to offer in experience and opportunity than any other places, but you cannot be working everywhere and on everything. Someday you have to choose the ground and specific area of practice to have standing.

In your opinion, is it easier for young lawyers to be established in cities like Delhi or smaller cities like Patna or Ranchi?

As I said, know your strength and the battleground. A smaller city deals with the problems of unskilled professionals unlike bigger cities and if one is willing to work hard, it can help strengthen their feet quickly in comparison to big ones.

How long should someone work under an advocate before going independent?

Skills and confidence is the determinant and not the time period. If you are skilled and a fast learner, 2 years is good enough in my opinion or else you keep learning.

I have seen talented people with 8-10 years of experience working under someone and not having the confidence and courage to come out of the cocoon whereas independent practitioners with lesser experience have managed to go farther than them. When you are ready, which no can know except you, take the leap.

What is your opinion on the salary that young advocates receive in litigation?

I have different folds of an answer to this. If you work with giants owing to any reasons, the pay is decent enough. Overall on average, the pay in the litigation is average to none. Again don’t get me wrong or be intimidated by it.

Fresh out of law school having textbook knowledge and limited practical exposure during the internship (assuming that you had a good one), you are no good to an active lawyer and he/she isn’t duty-bound to pay you for the environment provided by him for your exposure.

Yes, despite being skilled after a period of time, you won’t be getting much, but remember, there is no such thing as salary in this profession; it’s remuneration for the work done by you in the eyes of your senior. Either work harder and let your efforts be visible to the senior, or find another office/ senior who can offer decent pay or have a shot on your own.

Give us an insight into the investment that goes into starting independent practice in Ranchi.

Depends on how deep your pockets are. Investments aren’t limited to finance when you are planning to go independent. One room as an office would suffice if you have the clientele. If not, travelling to and fro to the local grounds to socialize and gather briefs on a weekly basis or 2 would incur costs.

Finding a good and reliable clerk (munsi as we call them) is another ardent task.  Investment in SCC digest/journals, A.I.R, and bare acts etc is a must. Hope you have not disposed your law school books which are a welcome addition to your small library.

Do clients approach young lawyers in Ranchi as often as they do in bigger cities?

Yes, if you are good.  Also, I do know that clients don’t visit young lawyers as frequently in bigger cities too. If you have managed to stand out in quick time which the clients observe during court proceedings then they do tend to come to you in future.

Another factor which goes in your favour is the legal background and these factors come to play irrespective of the classifications of the cities.

What is your message to our readers who want to enter litigation?

Ah, where do I start?

  1. First of all the study well. Don’t take your law school days for granted because outside that wall is a fierce and competitive world, way beyond your imagination. Focus on drafting, do internships with lawyers rather than choosing a law firm and be prepared for anything. B.
  2. Law is a noble profession and its nobility lies in the hand of professionals. Don’t pick up the pen and paper to raise your voice just for a premium lifestyle. A bad reputation might be the end of your legal career and an impediment to elevation as a judicial member in future. Believe me; it’s because of certain individuals exploiting clients we have managed so far with a bad name. It’s up to us to preserve the sanctity of this profession and also our character.
  3. Do inculcate some life-saving habits like exercise or meditation or anything to keep yourself fit and fine. It’s an exhausting profession so buckle up.
  4. Construction of wonders takes time rather than an ordinary building. There is no such thing as hyper-jump in this profession or anywhere else. Be patient.
  5. A parting message for all our readers.

And Finally…

Either an introvert or an extrovert, this profession is apt for anyone who wishes to pursue it whole-heartedly. The day you win a case is the day you will cherish throughout your life and not just because of the win but the expression of gratitude in the eyes of your client.

A good career is not the end of the road, aim for a sustainable life.  Just like the theory of sustainable development, a sustainable life allows the future generation to learn from you, not only as good professional but also as a good human being. Be vigilant of what you shall be offering to your successors.

Be a good disciple and hope to be a good mentor in the days to come by.

 

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About the Author

Aditya Anand

Aditya is 93.1% sure that he knows Japanese. We think he speaks Japanese in Bhojpuri accent.

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