Namit Saxena has done his law graduation from RMLNLU. He has secured second rank in the Advocate on Record exam. He has been interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Kratika Indurakhya.
1. When did you think of taking this exam and how did you prepare for it?
I decided to write the exam somewhere in 2017. However, I was eligible for the 2019 exam. Preparation involved a lot of small steps. These steps ranged from taking guidance from peers on what notes and books to refer to, downloading previous year question papers from Supreme Court’s website, collecting relevant material and studying for the exam. Shri Aviral Saxena, who cleared the AOR exam in 2018 was kind to share his notes with me which were extremely helpful. Preparation also involved reading the cases for the ‘Leading Cases’ exam. This generated an interest in getting to know the socio/political cum legal background to these cases. For example, Selvi v State of Karnataka, the adventures of the conducting scientist popularly known as Dr. Narco with her truth serum were thrilling. Similarly, contemporary political angles to reservation judgments were also thrilling. All this helped in generating an interest towards preparing for the exam.
2. Can you discuss the format of the paper, eligibility criteria, benefits of the exam?
There are 4 subjective exams conducted on consecutive days every year in June. Any advocate with 5 years experience including one year of mandatory training under an AOR with 10 years of experience is eligible to write the exam. The question papers carrying 100 marks each are of Practice and Procedure, Drafting, Professional Ethics and Leading Cases. The passing criteria is minimum 50 marks in each subject and minimum 240 marks in total out of 400. Filing of petitions/applications before the Supreme Court is done only through an AOR. No other advocate can file a lis before the Supreme Court. This is an added advantage in your practice before the Court.
3. How useful do you think SCC OnLine was in your preparation?
I downloaded all the judgments from SCC OnLine. This was suggested by colleague at bar Mr. Anuj Prakash. SCC Online also helped in updating the preparation by checking up the overruled cases, cases referred to larger benches and latest follow up of the cases.
4. Are you a first generation lawyer? Were you determined to get into litigation since your college days? What drove you towards litigation?
My father is an advocate practicing at Alwar, Rajasthan. Frankly, I was not determined what to do after graduation from RMLNLU. There was a notification somewhere in January 2013 for Clerkship at the Supreme Court. A large number of friends from the batch applied for the same including me. Fortunately, I was selected for the same and was attached with Justice Kurian Joseph. It is thereafter, I secured a position in the chambers of Shri Ranjit Kumar who had become the Solicitor General then. I am lucky to have found two gems as the first professional mentors. This shaped my career.
5. Is it good to aim to excel in one type of law since beginning, as in from college?
I don’t suggest/recommend this thought. I feel one should keep himself/herself flexible to learn all spheres of law. Gradually once you enter the profession, the kind of clientele you develop will shape your expertise. But if one particular field of law charms a person, one should give more emphasis on that. That also helps in the long run.
6. What type of law do you currently practice and did you join a senior at the start of your career and what do you advise college students to do?
I have a miscellaneous practice. We go to all courts with primary practice before the Supreme Court. As I said earlier, I clerked for an year with Justice Kurian Joseph and then joined the chambers of Shri Ranjit Kumar who was then the Solicitor General. It depends from person to person to choose a career path. One may consider joining a preparatory chamber i.e where briefs are prepared to be filed and learn basics of drafting, filing work, jurisdictions of the Court etc. Thereafter chambers of a good senior advocate may be joined. This has an advantage of learning the basic work. At a senior advocate’s chamber there is no drafting/filing work as such which is extremely important. But working with a senior advocate is important as it generates a thought process of reading a brief and presenting it effectively to the court to persuade the concerned judge. This is also helpful as one gets paid more in a senior advocate’s chamber and one can save some funds before shooting off an independent practice. The money saved turns helpful in the solo practice. On the contrary, one may also join a senior first, learn good research work and then work with a preparatory chamber before flying solo. This has an advantage that once you are 3-4 years into practice, your zeal to learn interesting issues about law gradually diminishes and you refuse sub-consciously to learn few good things which you would have learnt otherwise.
7. Since money is a major consideration for a lot of students, do you think joining corporate for a couple of years and then going for litigation is equally good as joining litigation from the beginning?
I don’t think it is a good idea. Working with a corporate group is very different from litigation due to lot of reasons. If one wants to practice law before courts, they should jump into it and invest 3-4 years. But I am conscious of the fact that litigation is too demanding in the initial years and there may be fiscal issues involved. If someone wishes to try hand at a corporate office before testing litigating waters, that is also okay. I don’t recommend that because I have seen few friends trying that who had to eventually take corporate jobs back. If one is really interested in litigation, they should not think monetarily but to learn. Money comes eventually.
8. Did you ever think of pursuing LL.M.? Do you think doing the same is beneficial in litigation?
LL.M. may be an added advantage in generating a good thought process to develop arguments. In practice as such it plays no role.
9. What are the upcoming fields of law that you would students can consider taking?
10. Do you have any other advise for the students of law?
Always ask ‘why’. Carry on your inquisitiveness. Read good literature.