Jharna Sahijwani, Assistant Professor in NMIMS, School of Law discussed on the importance of debating and mooting in the law school. She has been interviewed by Vanshika Doshar EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador who is currently pursuing law from NMIMS, School of Law.
Video of the interview can be accessed HERE
Q.1 Can you tell me about yourself and reasons for pursuing law?
Hello, I’m Ms. Jharna Sahijwani, Assistant Professor in NMIMS, School of Law. Actually I did not like mathematics and I had a keen interest in debating in my school times, there I realized that I can convince someone, if not convince then atleast I can put forward my point of view. These things made me research a lot and then I finally landed upon law. I was very inspired by senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, I was very inspired by him because I’ve seen him and heard him and also, there were things like you want to fight for the public for justice. These were something which made me choose law. The other which I realized was when I entered my law school that this is a completely different field and it’s not just about going to the court and doing things, it’s way beyond that, I had no idea about these law firms and the magnitude they have also law provide you with a lot of exposure which you don’t realize, it is not a restrictive field. My basic reason for pursuing law is that I love arguing, I could argue in anything and everything, till date people tell me that you don’t have to be a lawyer for everything, you can behave like a non-law person.
Q.2 What is the importance of mooting, research and debate in law school?
I think somewhere down the line everybody can study and get marks but these things give you an edge. People say that mooting is not the same and if you go to court things are different. Mooting gives you the kind of understanding of law which no other activity would give you like if you have a factual proposition in your hand and if you have to put forth your arguments from one side your brain will wander in directions which you would have never thought that you would think about and this is where your research come into picture. When you are making a memorial it’s all about research and how you use that research on your behalf. Then, comes the drafting part which helps you in your research papers. If you apply abroad for your masters, for them research papers hold the most value. Debating helps you shape how you speak, what you speak and how your brain works at the last moment that is what happens in the court if you go to the court the judge will ask you a lot of questions then to be able to put forth things in a manner that is helpful to your case. All these things are very important in a law school and shape you as a person also. I was a kind of student who wouldn’t even interact with people and moving from that I’m teaching a batch of 60 students and talking publicly which I was very scared of at appoint of time in my life. Research, I think is the most important thing for any law person and you need to have that skill.
Q.3 Can you share some strategies as to how to win a moot and if you could also share your personal achievements in mooting, mediation and arbitration?
For me law school was very overwhelming, like I started meeting people from different box of life coming out of my comfort zone. I realized that you can do wonders without even interacting with a lot of people. I started with my mooing career with a national moot court competition of Rajasthan University where we barely submitted our memorial that was in my second year. So, I’ve done my bachelors from Nirma University, in my 3rd year we had an opportunity to participate in the Hong Kong University Intra ADR Moot Court Competition, we were a team of 4 and we also had a coach. One thing that is most important in your mooting career is your team, it’s the utmost important factor when it comes to mooting. The first strategy is to form a team you are comfortable with because sometimes people form team just because you are friends with them but that should not be your only criteria. Also, you get to make a lot of friends and you get to do things probably you would have thought that you could not do like when it comes to summarization of facts I know that I’m not good at it but I know that I have teammates who could do it very well, so you need individual talent and skill set. The 2nd thing is that you should read out the problem as many times as possible, we had a 60 page moot problem and we read the moot problem 5 times atleast and note down the important facts. This has been throughout all the moots that we have participated and if you can convince the judge on facts is a very important thing, then comes the research part of it which is very important. Talking about the ADR Moot Court Competition, there were 40 teams from all over the world, there were teams from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, Paris, etc. and we were the 2nd runner ups in that competition so that was a huge thing for a 3rd year law student to go to a 1st International Competition and be at that position and we were against NLSIU and there was only a difference of 2 marks. People say that they can’t participate in Jessup because they don’t have resources but it has nothing to do with it, it’s about the passion and the hard work. Various things happen when you go to a new country, those factors will play a role and you can’t really do a lot about it but your hard work will always reward you. So, the other strategy that we follow when it comes to drafting is a lot of jargons that you shouldn’t use, beating around the bush and use flowery language because your memorials will be evaluated and the judges will be reading your memorial, they will be reading it probably for the 1st or 2nd time and it shouldn’t be like you are using too much of legal language which other people do not understand and you should also check your grammar. Things like footnoting also matters a lot and your memorial should be prepared atleast 2 days before the actual submission and you should take a print of the memorial and do a final proof reading, we had ensured that every dot was at the right place that kind of preparation you should have. Other than that you should not think that you are doing it for college, you are doing it for your own self. During your oral submissions you have to take care of a lot of things and most importantly how you present yourself, you have to be properly dressed and the way you speak and everything.
Q.4 We wanted to know about your LLM experience as well and what would you think to choose as a walk of life now?
LLM I think is very individual specific like a lot of people are not in a position to go for LLM directly after their graduation and people ask me also that whether they should go abroad for LLM. I just feel that a master degree will definitely add feather in your cap but it’s definitely upto you to decide what you want to do in the future. When I did my LLM I was clear that I don’t want to do litigation, I don’t want to work in a law firm so I decided to do LLM as for research and academics LLM becomes important because then only you’ll be appointed as Assistant Professor. I did my LLM in International Trade Law from National Law University Jodhpur that was the 1st time I was studying that subject and today I’m in love with that subject and you have make your dissertations which is almost equivalent to PhD thesis. Coming to the walk of life what I think now is to pursue my PhD which I think is the need of the hour.
Q.5 Anything other than this you would like to share with the readers of SCC?
I think that you should always give time to your law career. There might be a stage that you’ll know what you have to do in life from 1st year and there might be a time in your 5th year and you don’t know what to do or even forget law, you’ve actually graduated and you are doing something and you are not sure that whether it’s the right thing to do or not. I think when it comes to law you’ll definitely find your passion so wait for it. Other than that explore as much as you can because law gives you that opportunity so don’t hesitate in exploring.