In conversation with Anchit Bhandari, Advocate, Supreme Court of India on his journey from a law student to a Litigator

Mr Anchit Bhandari is an advocate practising at the Supreme Court of India and also the recipient of outstanding scholastic performance in academia award by former Chief Justice of India Mr Justice R.M. Lodha. He has been interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Aadarsh Kothari who is currently pursuing law from Amity Law School, Noida.

  1. Can you please tell us something about your journey from being a law student to a lawyer and now a successful litigator? Please also share your interests and motivations.

Starting from how this journey and the transition was, I come from a generation and background that was largely hit by the charm depicted in the courtrooms on televisions and I was always fascinated to have a lawyer’s way of life. So opting law as a career choice was not a difficult decision to make. So the said idea always followed within me and choosing law as a subject to pursue was felt to be the most obvious idea that I could have thought of. As a result of which I entered Institute of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad (ILNU) in 2012. For me, ILNU is not just a college as I share nostalgic relationship with the institute where I made some of the best and everlasting memories (from purely academics to spending leisure time at the university, I had moments to cherish for lifetime) with some of the dearest people who had a major role in shaping me and I am glad that their interactions and support have made me richer. Back then, I mooted with some of the brightest and brilliant minds in college (who were exceptional in doing legal research and with whom I learnt as to how precisely and accurately, legal research was done), I even published articles nationally and internationally with a close friend and had even participated in literary and cultural events across the country. I have always loved my internships with AZB & Partners, J. Sagar Associates and Veritas Legal and the resultant was that subjectwise, I developed inclination towards business laws. In a nutshell, the continuous support of right people in influencing me in countless ways coupled with the professional environment that ILNU provided was a complete package for this transition from a law student to a lawyer.

  1. In your law school, you have been a gold medalist and had also been felicitated by the former Chief Justice of India Mr Justice R.M. Lodha with an award for an outstanding scholastic performance in academia (at national level). How do you perceive this accomplishment as a building step in your career?

Well, firstly I would say that it was indeed the most memorable phase of my life. I believe that being felicitated by former Chief Justice of India was a matter of immense pride for me and I consider myself really fortunate. There is an English proverb that “if you want to put a man in misery, give him one wish”. Similarly, a young law graduate does not wish for too much in future and I respectfully welcomed this feat with deep bonhomie and had promised myself that I will continue to work with honest hard labour and would always consider it a significant phase that was special yet important in making me understand the value of hard work.

  1. Since, most of your internship(s) were based in tier I corporate law firms but you chose a career in litigation what were the determining factors behind the decision?

As rightly pointed out by you, majorly all my internships were based in tier I corporate law firms as I had a strong passion towards the same. Immediately after graduation, I started my career with Juris Corp, Mumbai, however, the same was for a brief period. For me, working in a law firm was definitely a life changing experience. I always encourage young lawyers to try hands on both areas (if at all this dilemma persists) before making a long-term choice. There is no doubt that law firms are exceptional in terms of exposure that they offer. The same is in terms of big hot shot clients and working on important matters to getting a steady and good income, which of course is a boost for any young lawyer when one puts the first step in the profession. However, as it is said that each coin has a flip side. Working in a lawyer’s chamber can be invaluable in terms of building skill set and having independence to learn not just drafting/researching but to handle your own briefs while working. I believe that working in a law firm would not provide enough opportunities to handle responsibilities independently when it comes to pleading before the court. So it is important for an individual to decide as per their respective interests and passion. For me, this decision was not easy and I knew that it would take considerable time to establish myself in such set-up, but I felt strongly about it, so I took the plunge anyway.

Personally, the idea and feeling of standing in court and persuading the sharpest mind in your field gives you an immense satisfaction and pride and I do not shy away from admitting that I do not see any other field that can be more enterprising and challenging than this. With each passing case, I see myself growing and learning. For a lone rider like me in this profession, I understood that things have propensity to work themselves out only at the cost of being patient and open to receiving help.

  1. Please tell us about your areas of practice at the Supreme Court?

I am presently associated with Mr Rishabh Sancheti, Advocate, Supreme Court of India and have been exposed to a wide variety of matters under his guidance. My work profile involves assisting with research, drafting and framing of arguments in the matters at Supreme Court, High Court of Delhi and other forums. I do not have a streamlined area of work as I largely handle a wide array of civil, criminal, commercial and matters related to constitutional laws, to name a few. While most of this is in capacity of an associate, I handle my independent briefs before the Supreme Court and other forums in Delhi as well, which, at times is a challenging work with uncertain outcomes at times but is integral, at the same time. Precisely, I do not mind practice in any area of law that comes to me as I think as a lawyer, it is the client that chooses your specialisation in the area of law. I think one need to strive hard to match the professional confidence in executing work of the chosen specialisation or domain as it requires perseverance and efforts.

  1. What according to you are the biggest challenges or hurdles to having a successful litigation practice?

Every area of law you practice comes with a horde of challenges be it corporate practice, being an inhouse counsel or having litigation practice. For a career in litigation, one should always have an appetite for learning. And by learning I do not merely refer to academic learning but one should always be ready to think on one’s feet. There are days where you are at your peak in terms of getting favourable orders from the court, at the same time, there are few days where you are in your hard times. However, as rightly said by Rennard Strickland and Frank T. Read in their book The Lawyer Myth:  A Defense of the American Legal Profession:

“Lawyers are the foot soldiers of our Constitution.”

Therefore, every young counsel should be willing to improvise with belief in oneself and no one should become complacent about their trajectory in the field of law.

I was blessed to have mentor like Mr Rishabh Sancheti, Advocate, Supreme Court of India who showed me ropes of the field and who gave me room to travel in my own growth path.

  1. How can a first generation law student commence a litigation career?

I think that there is no one straight-jacket method to start practising as one gets better each day with time and experience. Of course, not to demoralise, the journey of litigation would never be easy as the same entails a lot of hard work, grit, determination and patience to overcome challenges that one is faced with. Students who genuinely choose litigation must lead a balanced life coupled with hunger to learn and unlearn on a daily basis as law is dynamic.

Further, I think most of the first generation lawyers face this dilemma as to how to establish your practice in litigation considering that in a structured market, one has to find space to make a mark and to get identified. On the basis of my limited experience that I have at the Bar, I can safely say that a determined, hardworking and punctual lawyer will inevitably end up being a successful litigator, notwithstanding any consideration.

For a young lawyer to commence litigation practice, it is equally important to have continuous tutelage (at least in the initial years) and mentoring and to have your senior’s trust in your work. Fortunately, Mr Kashyap Joshi, Advocate, Gujarat High Court has been extremely helpful and supportive in providing advocacy lessons which are extremely helpful in litigation practice.

  1. Any messages to law students that you might want to send out?

I would definitely like to say that there is no fixed or “one size fits all” formula in legal profession. So each student should assess one’s strengths, weaknesses, areas of interests coupled with passion and should mould his/her career accordingly. I would also personally recommend the young law graduates to not limit themselves in the initial stages of the career and one should gain diversity of work experience so as to grasp full gamut of opportunities that a career in law affords.

It is equally imperative to highlight that the career in law comes with an additional burden of immense anxiety and apprehension, so do not worry about your majestic long-term goals. One should always keep small workable goals and milestones which suits you and the same should have nothing to do with what your peers are doing or what they have achieved in their professional lives.

The profession is always a mixed baggage of good and bad days so always maintain your hopes high. Life in litigation is a marvellous experience as you learn something new everyday which makes work more fun to be involved into. The only catch is to not quit the pursuit due to any reason as momentary troubles will come and go if you confront them.

Lastly I would like to highlight some important takeaways from my experience at the Bar and I think each young lawyer should keep this in mind:

(i) Always love and respect the profession: One thing is certain you’re your immersion in the legal field shall always be more than your personal accomplishment and therefore, humbly accept what the profession has to offer.

(ii) Never lose personal touch: The legal profession is an ecosystem wherein each person involved has an indispensable role to play. At the end of the day, it is the human warmth and touch that draw us to people and help us to connect.

(iii) Give time to your personal life: Make time for things that you are passionate for as it helps you to be alive. So make sure you make time for things you enjoy and one should never let work come in way of important relationship moments.

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