- Can you tell us a little about yourself, your interests and reasons for pursuing law?
I completed my graduation [B.A. LL. B (Hons.)] from National University of Study and Research in Law, Ranchi with specialization in Criminal Laws. I am currently working as a Law Clerk- cum- Research Assistant to Hon’ble Justice U.U. Lalit, Judge, Supreme Court of India.
I believe that my upbringing has played a major role in helping me pick the right career and accordingly shaping my overall personality. Since my father is serving in the armed forces, I have had the opportunity to travel and live in various cities across the country. This in turn greatly enhanced my thought process as I was able to imbibe different cultures of various states. Over the period of time, building connections and adapting to diverse environment also came along as an added advantage.
Pursuing law was never a planned choice of career for me. I was always interested in pursuing journalism and being a travel journalist still stands on top of my list. I was quite active in participating in co-curricular activities in school. Be it debates, extempore, recitation or being an Emcee, I would always be seen on stage or backstage prepping and trying new things. It instilled in me a sense of confidence and ability to address people at any level. Back in school, I used to actively participate in student campaigns and worked for various social organisations like Help Age India, Cancer Aid Society, Programme for Nutrition, Health and Sanitation. As an outcome, it somewhere led my preference towards pursuing a career in law.
- Why did you choose judicial clerkship as a career? How would you describe the profession?
Law Clerk- cum- Research Assistant at the Supreme Court is a short- term job to assist the Hon’ble judges with their everyday judicial tasks. It is not a full-fledged career option as it usually spans for a period of 1 year and can be extended further if the judge so desires.The stand out part about this job is that it does not require any post- qualified experience and one can either join straight out of college or after having gained some work experience.
Most of my internships in law school have been litigation based. I have interned with some of the finest stalwarts likeHon’ble Justice Protik Prakash Banerjee, Calcutta High Court (then Senior Advocate), Mr. Pravin H. Parekh, Sr. Adv,Ms.Rebecca John, Sr. Adv. &Mr. Rishabh Sancheti, Adv. I have also interned with the Dispute Resolution team at L&L Partners, New Delhi. However, my most insightful internship experience was one with Hon’ble Justice (Retd.)Chelameswar in my 4th year law school. As any other 4th year law student, I was equally perplexed about my career options after graduation. My interest grew deep with my interactions with the Law Clerks to Hon’ble Justice Chelameswar. I believe that it is important to get a flavour of diverse areas of law in one’s initial years into the profession and nothing does it better than working under the able guidance of a Judge.The kind of work which Law Clerks undertake doesn’t restrict them to a particular mind frame. The spectrum is so wide that it provides ample space to weigh each and every aspect, both factual and legal, which at the end of the day is what every legal mind craves for.
- Why is judicial clerkship a crucial profession to take up for a law graduate?
The credential of working under a Supreme Court Judge goes a long way in one’s professional career. It is not just the experience that counts but also the substantive knowledge of law that enhances with the experience.One gains holistic knowledge on all matters irrespective of their area of interest. Most importantly, it is highly beneficial for someone who plans to pursue litigation or judicial services. Spending good amount of time in court definitely helps you grab the intricacies of court craft along with how arguments are put forward and articulated. Moreover, being on the other side of the podium, one gets a fair idea of what Judge’s seek or where their minds are inclined towards. Reading a matter by going through its file as opposed to hearing the arguments put forward from scratch in the court is very different.The latter being more beneficial in the sense that, firstly, one is able to understand and identify procedural irregularities; and secondly, being able to establish a conundrum between facts and law put forward by way of arguments.
Personally, as a fresher straight out of college, the wide range of matters that we are asked to research on has somewhere also led to a personal academic growth which is also deeply motivating. A better command at the applicability of law is one major change I’ve realised in myself in such a short span. Before streamlining one’s area of practice, getting a first-hand experience at all sorts of matters in the very beginning of a career gives a sense of understanding for future prospects. I have personally never worked on these many diverse matters simultaneously before. Not only this, a law graduate who has keen interest in policy making may choose to pursue clerkship as the Courts play a significant role by way of power of Judicial review vested in them. Hon’ble Justice Lalit was known to be the finest criminal lawyer in the country and how the criminal justice system could be evolved and transformed is something I look forward to learning from him now.
It goes without saying that working with a Judge of the Supreme Court can be an apex point in itself for any one pursuing law. It cannot get any better than this.
- What are the tasks that you have to perform as a judicial clerk?
The job of a law clerk is primarily to assist the Hon’ble Judge with the research on cases which require consideration. Essentially, our days are divided in two segments. In the morning we are required to attend court proceedings and thereafter, work in the chambers at the Judge’s residence.
In court, we make notes of the arguments being advances in various matters. This is again on the discretion of the Judge to call you to court if some important matter is listed or to remain at the chambers to work on the rest of the matters. Justice Lalit makes sure we attend court everyday which I believe is a huge advantage when it comes to understanding a matter in its entirety along with the intricacies of law.
After court, we are required to prepare a one pager brief note for all the matters listed in the court for the next day. At times one might also have to orally brief the Judge regarding the matter, if asked. Also, research for all the reserved judgments are carried out simultaneously. It goes without saying that the highlight of the day is the interactions with sir over how things unfolded in court or in what light should a case be seen and adjudicated upon. It’s like an icing on the cake!
- What is the influence of moot courts, research papers and seminars on securing judicial clerkship and how have they been helpful to you?
The value of co- curricular activities cannot be undermined. Although, I believe that co-curricular activities shouldn’t be restricted to the conventional moot courts or research papers. Participating in legal aid camps and socially driven NGO’s is also a crucial aspect for a law student. The very purpose of pursuing law shouldn’t be kept at bay.
Since judicial clerkship is primarily a research-oriented job, one cannot do away with the importance of having good research skills. I believe writing articles, essays or research papers is one of the best ways in honing one’s research skills. What is important is not how many papers one has written or how many moots one has participated in but the depth of understanding of a particular area of law.I believe developing a basic understanding of law is very important, which if done primarily at law schools can take anyone much further in life. Being able to critically analyse, apply and interpret law is one thing every law student should develop before stepping out of law school.
- What is your take on a system of judicial clerkship at High Courts?
I haven’t personally interacted with anyone in particular who is working as a Law Clerk to a High Court Judge, but from as much as I’ve heard, there is no difference as regards the work profile is concerned. Like I mentioned earlier, the work primarily consists of research for judgments. However, the post of a Law Clerk is not very widely recognized in a lot of High Courts and the terms of employment vary from court to court. There’s no single standard description towards this work profile. But the scenario is slowly changing. At the least, all major High Courts have begun to induct Law Clerks.
- Anything else you want to share with us?
Don’t rush into choosing something and regretting later. We are at the liberty to experiment only in our initial years. Make the most of it.