I vividly remember, even when I was in school, I used to argue a hell lot with my parents on anything and everything possible under the sun, (something which I still do).
My father used to tell me mockingly, “tujhe toh vakil banna chahiye, bas behes karti rehti hai” (you must become a lawyer, you are always arguing with us).
I never thought it might actually become true someday! Till I had joined law, I had absolutely no idea whatsoever about how the legal profession works since no one in my family nor anyone I knew close had ever pursued this field.
Sounds Familiar?? This is an extract from the book “Yours Legally” by Sonia Sahijwani. In an interview with Lawctopus, Sonia talks about her career journey and how she was inspired to write this collection of short stories.
Please tell us about yourself.
I am Sonia Sahijwani Saini a law graduate from faculty of law Delhi University currently working as Assistant Manager (Law) in Indian Oil Corporation Limited marketing office at Chandigarh.
I am a commerce graduate who pursuant to a PG in print journalism decided to take the unusual diversion towards the field of law.
A reader and writer since childhood, it was a dream to pen down my book and become an author.
I have been recently elevated to the role of a mother and am currently busy parenting my 8-month-old son along with trying to manage my official and personal duties.
This is my first book.
A lot of our readers and college students. Tell us about your school and college life. Who or what influenced and interested you?
Since school life, I was heavily oriented towards academics and was a topper throughout school and college. However, I was extremely involved and active in extracurricular activities since I knew it was imperative for my overall development and self-growth.
My entire schooling graduation post-graduation has been in the capital city of New Delhi and I have been lucky enough to study in the prestigious Delhi University and Indian Institute of Mass Communication.
I also pursued a Masters in Business Laws from NLSIU Bangalore to hone my professional knowledge and skills. Since the beginning, I had an inquisitive nature and always questioned everything rather than accepting things at face value.
Perhaps this is the reason I chose law as my profession and career choice eventually. I have always believed in following my heart and chose the path myself and was lucky enough to have been given this freedom by my parents.
My professors at Gargi College, especially Dr. Gita Kichlu, Mrs. Sheela Dubey, my mentors Mr. Ajai Bhalla, Advocate Pankaj Sinha are among the few people who have been one of the major influences in my life and who guided me at critical stages in my life.
Tell us about your initial years after college? What were the plans, the struggles, and the successes?
After completing my B.Com (Hons) from Gargi College, Delhi University, I got selected for one year PG in print journalism at IIMC New Delhi.
The dream was to become a journalist but after completing the course and landing a decent sub-editor job in a leading personal finance magazine in New Delhi, I realised that somewhere something was amiss yet. The world of journalism was changing more towards commercialism and Trps and I felt it was not what perhaps I had imagined.
Somewhere, there was a desire to study some more and that’s where the idea of joining a law college came into the picture. The legal subjects I studied during graduation had deeply captivated and fascinated me and I left journalism to study law.
I did a lot of training and internships to get to see the practical side of this profession and gauge where I would be best suited in this field.
Subsequently, I landed up a public sector job in a PSU in New Delhi through campus placement. Though it wasn’t my dream job, little did I know that it would lay the ground for my debut book Yours Legally.
How did the idea for the book emerge?
The idea of writing my book is something I have been nurturing ever since I was in class 5th.
As destiny would have it, I used to pen down some of my internship experiences during my law college days, wherein I interned under various lawyers, organisations etc.
Subsequently, during my first job I used to visit courts on a daily basis and the proceedings, the happenings around me used to fascinate me and challenge me every single day.
This was when I decided to write a few short stories based on true incidents related to the legal profession. I felt it would be something different as most of us are wary of the courts and do not want to mess with the law in any way.
I believe this book would appeal to not just those who are a part of the legal fraternity but also to those who know little about the law and would provide a fresh perspective to this profession as well.
What’s the book about?
This book is about the journey of Sia, a young law graduate fresh out of law school who chose this field against her parents’ wishes.
With absolutely no family background in this profession, she sets out to explore the various opportunities this not so common but the upcoming field of law brings her way.
Written in the form of short stories and inspired by true incidents and events related to the legal profession, Sia comes across unusual and memorable incidents including some eccentric courtroom dramas, all of which left a deep impact in her life.
These stories are based on the six elements critical to the field of law – the case, court, complainant, counsel, criminal and confinement.
The prologue of the book
Everyone wants to stay away from the law and the courts. Isn’t it true enough?
Being in the profession myself I pray each day that my loved ones should never need to have any sort of connection with legal proceedings as we all know, it truly is a cumbersome exhausting ordeal.
However, despite the fears and doubts, the field of law is a roller coaster ride and I am pretty sure once someone enters this territory it is more often than not extremely difficult to leave it.
With the above backdrop, perhaps now you, my reader will have a faint idea about this book.
To give you a small glimpse of what’s in store let me just say that the book has been narrated through the eyes and ears of my protagonist Sia, a budding lawyer who tried out every possible training opportunity she could lay her hands on before finalizing on where she wanted to be after she finished her graduation.
The stories are a by-product of certain incidents during her diverse experiences in the legal system as each one of them affected her and impacted her in some way and taught her something about life as well.
She sometimes did it for the sole purpose of beautification of her CV, but mostly she did it for the real and genuine motive of getting acquainted with the legal process, learning the nuances of litigation(court practice), the nitty gritties of the profession thereby enabling them to gather some experience beforehand itself.
Sia explored the opportunities that came her way for all of the reasons above. Little did she know that her experiences would teach her not just law but something more as well.
Now normally, a book which is a compilation of short stories has an independent story each. Rarely are those stories interrelated or interconnected.
In fact, while writing this book, I realized that trying to keep a story short and crisp is extremely challenging as compared to penning a single long story. This book is a tad different, as all the six stories herein have one common protagonist Sia, and one common thread which binds them all i.e. Law.
The first three stories are based on the elements of The Complainant, The Court and The Case and are courtroom dramas with a dash of satire, the fourth story is based on the element “The Counsel” and is dedicated to a lawyer whom I personally had the experience of working with.
The last two stories are based on the elements of The Confinement and The Criminal and are the protagonist’s eccentric but memorable experiences of visiting an Indian Prison.
It is for all those who have only imagined how prison is, seen in movies or heard from friends and have never ever seen in reality. Inspired by true incidents, the names of the prison and the accused have been withheld for obvious reasons.
I wish this book reaches out to not just those who are a part of the legal profession, but also the youth in particular who are trying to get back to the habit of reading, be it the e-way.
Tell us about the process you followed in taking this book off the ground (talking to publishers, writing, editing, etc.)
The draft for this book was actually written in 2012, years ago and sent to few publishers. Upon receiving no response, I had actually kept it saved with me for many years only to be shocked on receiving an email from one publisher recently showing interest in getting this book published.
It was surreal and unbelievable. The book was reworked and edited by me only and I thank becomeshakespeare.com and wordit art fund for funding and helping deserving and budding authors in getting their works published.
What are your tips for future authors?
Well, right now I am a budding author myself so I feel I am not the right person to advise future authors but I only feel one should write from the heart and have their own way and style of writing not aimed at imitating anyone at all.
We should write what we feel gives us happiness and what we feel would connect with at least some of the readers out there.
What are your favourite books?
I love all genres of books from fiction, thriller to autobiographies and motivational books as well.
My all-time favourite books are the Eleventh Commandment by Jeffrey Archer, almost all books by John Grisham, the Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini and Shantaram.
What are your favourite movies?
I am a big fan of action, high-speed chase and thriller movies like the fast and furious series and the Bourne series among English movies but I am equally fond of comedy and typical room com movies and am a huge Hindi movie buff as well.
Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na and Dil Se remain the movies I can see anytime any day and again and again.
Parting advice for our readers.
This debut book is an honest attempt to talk about law with a dash of satire with an aim to reach out to all those who may or may not have ever heard anything about the legal profession nor would have ever stepped inside a court.
And for those who are a part of it already, I hope they might relate to it in some way!
Links to buy the book
BecomeShakespeare.com: Click here
Amazon (India) (E-book and Paperback): Click here
Smashwords: Click here
KOBO: Click here
Barnes and Nobles: Click here