Interview- Aditya Sondhi on Litigation as a Career, Intellectual Growth and NLU’ Students

Aditya Sondhi wears many hats.

His contemporaries respect him for his legal prowess. Those who have heard him in courts have high regards for his top notch oratory skills. He is a fabulous writer with a book called ‘Unfinished Symphony‘ published. (Our readers who like good writing will do good to read this piece called ‘Tipsy takes it on the chin‘ published in Deccan Herald). Mr. Sondhi is a brilliant law teacher too.

All of this made for a brilliant interview.

What inspired you to take up law? What made you choose litigation over lucrative offers in the corporate sector?

Taking up law was not planned, as I wanted to pursue Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the Oxford University. Since that was deferred, I ended up joining NLS, Bangalore.

In my 5th year, I decided to opt for litigation because I realized that practicing in Court helps one grow intellectually and build one’s reputation. Furthermore, there is a greater scope for ideological independence in practice.

What does one need to succeed in litigation/practice?

One should have the right temperament. By that I mean – willingness to learn, patience, humility, grit to work under pressure and a sense of justice

Why do you think law students tend to shy away from litigation?

There is a degree of misconception that meritorious student cannot do well in litigation. There is general tendency to make quick money which is not there in litigation. Bottom-line: one has to come up the hard way and this is truer of first-generation lawyers.

Would higher education be of any advantage in practice?

Higher education is paramount for full-time academics. It is luxury for anyone who wants to practice at the Courts. As I have already said, one can learn a great deal more by conducting cases.

How do you manage time to give lectures and do regular writing especially on non-academic topics?

Public speaking and writing relaxes me and also helps me grow mentally. It is important for lawyers to have a broad vision beyond the realms of law. I prioritize my time. My focus in on my practice and nothing can take center stage at the expense of my practice.

I believe that knowledge is increased by sharing it with others. Besides, I think it is my duty to direct and counsel youngsters.

What do you think about the present National Law Schools?

NLUs are promising. They have made law a serious career option which was not the case, say twenty years ago. But, most of them appear to have tailor-made for the corporate community. I would like to see more emphasis on litigation and pure academics.

How do you see the 5 year integrated program vis-a-vis the 3 year program?

Obviously, the 5 year program saves a year. Having said this, it makes no serious difference in practice whether you are from a 3 year or 5 year program. Most of the learning happens in Court, under a competent Senior.

Is there is anything that you dislike about the present students?

There is nothing that I dislike as such. I would like to see some more humility in the students though.

Increasing number of students want to pursue pure arbitration as a career option. Your advice?

Arbitration in India is closely interlinked with litigation, in that, the Courts are involved at various stages such as the grant of interim measures, the appointment of arbitrators, challenge to awards and their enforcement.

Even the conduct of arbitral proceedings entails the application of litigation skills. Hence, it is paramount to have exposure to litigation if one wants to seriously consider the practice of arbitration.

Image from here.

Do read our earlier interviews:

Mr. Raghavendra Patnaik on Sports Law.

Mr. Gautam John on Legal Entreprenerism.

Gautam Bhatia (NLSIU) and Shreya Atreya (NALSAR) on how they got the coveted Rhodes Scholarship.

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