Interview of Yashdeep Chahal: AIR 4 Supreme Court Law Clerk cum Research Assistant Examination, 2019

Mr Yashdeep Chahal graduated from Campus Law Centre, Delhi University in 2019. He appeared for Supreme Court Law Clerk cum Research Assistant Examination, 2019 and secured 1st Rank in the interview and combined 4th Rank in the exam.

Introduce yourself to our readers.

Hi. I am a graduate in Law from Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi, batch of 2016-19. Previously, I had completed my majors in B.Sc. (Honors) Physics from A.R.S.D. College, University of Delhi.

Tell us about your law school journey.

My journey at the law school was a period of immense growth, both in personal and professional quarters. Despite having completed my graduation in Physics, my heart always tilted towards the law and it made this shift from science to law a smooth exercise for me. Unlike popular perception, my science background did not become a hurdle in the learning of law.

The 3-year law course is rigorous and it does not allow you the comfort of time to get used to the subject. My journey was more about finding my areas within the law and understanding the art of interpreting bare acts and analyzing case laws. Law is an emotion for me and since the time I joined law school, I have constantly courted the law and that’s how I recall my law school journey.

How was your time at law school divided between activities?

I devoted a fair share of my time at law school to mooting, writing, debating and when I was not involved in any of the preceding activities, one could spot me in the library. I did not restrict myself to a particular area of law and tried to gain a comprehensive understanding of the subject. One could find me reading criminal procedure and writing a research paper on Copyright Laws alongside it. Furthermore, I did not restrict myself to a particular activity either.

Debating holds an irreplaceable place in my heart and that drove me towards mooting and conducting training sessions on public speaking at various places. I also devoted a fair share of my time to writing columns on socio-legal issues, primarily aimed at drawing parallels between the theoretical learning of law and socio-political happenings where the law is seen in action.

What are the internships you did in law school?

I opted for internships in diverse areas and places. In my first year, I interned at the office of Mr Dhan Mohan Mishra, wherein I got an excellent first-hand exposure of criminal law. I got an opportunity to understand the practice and procedure of Delhi High Court and District Courts under his guidance.

Thereafter, I interned at the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, wherein I was a member of the drafting committee of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for conducting Prosecution under the Companies Act, 2013. This internship was followed by an internship at the office of Mr Vikramjit Banerjee, Addl. Solicitor General, Supreme Court of India.

I also got an opportunity to work at the office of Mr Ninong Erring, Member of Parliament in the capacity of Legislative Intern.

When and why did you decide to go for clerkship?

I decided to go for it around 6 months ago as I happened to discuss it with a senior who had worked at this position. I aspire to join the bench sooner or later and this was my prime motivation to go for judicial clerkship as it would enable me to understand the functioning of judicial mind from the other side.

That it offers a firsthand experience of working with a Hon’ble judge of the apex court and closely handling hundreds of cases during the period of empanelment became instrumental in enhancing my inclination towards it.

Tell us about the exams pattern and selection procedure.

The exam is conducted every year by the Supreme Court of India Registry at multiple centres across the country. It involves a two-tier process that includes a written exam followed by an interview which is conducted by a 3-member panel comprising of Hon’ble Judges of the Supreme Court.

The written exam, furthermore, is divided into two sections – English & General Knowledge and Law. Individual cut-offs are fixed for these two sections and one needs to clear the individual cut-off also in order to get shortlisted for the interview.

Who should aim for clerkship? How does the experience help law students?

I believe young law graduates who are not under any immediate rush to join the bar could aim for it. This is an advanced level learning experience that exposes you to immensely diverse areas of law and contemporary questions of law. That one learns to separate the grain from the chaff in legal submissions and judgments is the biggest takeaway for a lawyer in this assignment.

How did you prepare for the exam? What was your model of study?

Hon’ble Supreme Court has prescribed a syllabus for this exam which can be found on the website. Primarily, the syllabus covers procedural laws (both civil and criminal), Constitution of India and the Indian Penal Code. I relied heavily on bare acts and tried to analyze the provisions in terms of their potential to generate questions.

The quality of questions asked in this exam has changed drastically and one needs to have a sound grasp over procedural laws in order to generate a good rank. I also supplemented bare acts with landmark cases, particularly for IPC and Constitution. Furthermore, I deem it important to mention here that unlike other government exams, one cannot afford to take the English language portion lightly in this exam.

The quality of questions asked in this section surpasses the average difficulty level often asked in other exams. However, I was comfortable with the language, so I did not prepare specifically for this section.

What do you plan on doing in the near and distant future?

As of now, I would be joining the Supreme Court for my clerkship, hoping to make it an intellectually uplifting experience. Thereafter, I plan to join the bar and pursue my passion in court practice. I would also be going for higher studies in law as and when time permits me. In the distant future, however, I aspire to join the judicial service and serve on the bench.

What is your stand on the state of underpaid litigation freshers?

Whereas the market standard for litigation is awfully low, but at the same time, I do feel that fresh law school graduates lack the skills and practical court exposure to expect high rewards. Moreover, based on the skill set, remuneration varies. It is called ‘practice’ for a reason and one needs to acquire a voluminous skill set before actually being regarded as a lawyer and being paid as one.

Parting advice to our readers.

“The Law is a jealous mistress and requires a long and constant courtship. It is not to be won by trifling favours, but by lavish homage”, remarked Joseph Story.

I fail to find better words to express what law should mean to a student of law. Be it my personal sphere or professional, my efforts are aimed at winning by lavish homage. A student of law never loses his character of being a student. It demands consistency and one cannot be in a long-distance relationship with the law.

I would advise the readers to never discriminate between provisions in a bare act. I attach equal importance to every nook of the legislation and no portion of it deserves to be regarded as unimportant. A holistic understanding produces a ripple effect and naturally enhances your understanding of case laws and latest judgments. Law demands constant attention and that’s where most of us fail.

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