Mr Sanchit Garga, Advocate-on-Record, Supreme Court of India. He is a very young lawyer who has not only conquered the AOR examination but is also an established name at the Supreme Court as well as the Delhi High Court. He deals in a wide array of cases ranging from civil to criminal to arbitration matters.
In this conversation, he shares with us some valuable insights on the practicality of law and how practice is different from the theoretical concepts we learn at law school. He also shares some tips on litigation and the AOR examination.
This interview has been conducted by Vranda Agarwal, EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador who is currently pursuing law from NLIU, Bhopal.
- Can you please introduce yourself and give us a glimpse of your law school journey? Also tell us how do you define the change that you have seen from law in books to law at practice?
I graduated in 2012 from Bangalore Institute of Legal Studies (Bangalore University). Simultaneously, I also completed my company secretaries course. Apart from reading law, while in college I got driven to a world other than law but very closely related to law such as psychology, history, social science, etc, which ultimately helps in understanding the nuances of law. When one practises in superior courts, the Judges are more well versed with law than the young lawyers, one has to come to the point in no time for there is no time for recovery. If a lawyer is not quick on his feet or is not conversant with the facts, he might not be able to answer the volley of questions often asked by the Judges.
Litigation practice is completely different, life as a litigator is far more diverse and different from reading the law in books. Law is an ocean and nobody can learn it all. One always has to be a student of law.
- Sir can you also share your early experiences with litigation as a career, what was the journey like? What should one expect while embarking upon this journey?
Initial days were a struggle, you keep waiting for briefs, but those were days where you learn the most. One learns courtcraft watching veterans argue in courts. In the initial days, finances become a big problem and it can get frustrating also. Briefs are scarce to come by since litigants do not trust young lawyers, easily. However, this should not deter young lawyers from embarking on the beautiful journey of life as a litigating lawyer. One should look for light from anywhere. Initial days are tough but persistence and self-belief are the key factors which keep you going. Young lawyers should have the courage of conviction to stay put for success might be slow but not far to see.
- Next is a question which every law student tries to look for. What is the life like as an independent counsel? Also, please throw some light on the profile in contrast to other legal careers like corporate jobs. Is it helpful to work in a firm and then start with your own practice as is the trend these days?
Life as an independent counsel is a wholesome experience. It is a bitter-sweet experience of failure and success in courts as a part of everyday life. But failure should not deter one from moving ahead. Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour. When in law school, the student should make up his mind on what journey and future he looks for himself though it is a tough decision to make at that time.
Law firms provide financial security, the corporate practice of the law firms is diametrically opposite to litigation while the litigation practice of law firms provides a similar experience with heavy briefs and since law firms engage Senior Advocates on regular basis, it is a great learning experience as well. The arbitration practice of law firms is also a great learning curve. The transition from law firms to litigation as an independent counsel might not be smooth always but the idea of being your own boss is a good enough motivating factor.
- A lot many students fear this career path as there is a lot of uncertainty and in the initial days, not much of returns so to say. How does one make a successful litigation career? What are some of the things that he/she needs to keep in mind while opting for a career in this domain?
Persistence, self-belief, patience are the only keys to success. Apart from financial struggles there is so much to learn which in itself is an incentive. There is no straitjacket formula or secret formula to achieve success. It is only by trial and error. The experiences and journey of each litigator is his own and one has to chart his own course. The difficulties may be wide ranging and diverse which are unique to every individual but the way you turn adversities into opportunities is what will take you ahead. Develop a mindset of growth and be a problem-solver for your clients as well as for yourself.
- What should be the basic approach and expectations one must have while starting the practice at High Court or Supreme Court? What should be the ideal trajectory and please share some do’s and don’ts while starting out this journey?
Before moving to constitutional courts, a lawyer needs to first start with practice in District Courts for at least two years. The basics of CPC and CrPC are implemented in District Courts exercising original jurisdiction. If the foundation is not strong the entire structure will be weak. I also practised initially in District Court for two years. The idea is to first become a good drafting counsel and then become a good arguing counsel, though there is no ideal trajectory but I always endeavour to draft my own matters which in turns enable me to remember facts, better.
In my advice and experience,
(a) Thorough examination of facts and the applicable case laws should be done while drafting the petitions.
(b) Always be fair to the opposite side as well.
(c) Argue without hesitation or fear.
(a) Never mislead the court.
(b) Never conceal facts prejudicial to your client’s interest.
(c) Never get agitated in court.
- Since you took the AOR examination in recent past, please share some tips with the readers on how to clear this exam and what are the benefits of becoming an AOR? Please share your experiences with the examination.
AOR examinations are not that tough to crack especially, if you have been practising in Supreme Court. The key is memorising Supreme Court Rules, 2013 which helps in practice and procedure, drafting as well as ethics paper. Leading case laws though is an open book exam but I find it to be the toughest. Time management during the exams is something to watch out for. Attending the lectures delivered by Senior Advocates conducted by the Supreme Court is a must and should not be avoided for any reason. The lectures are important for they are delivered by the “test author”. Be careful to read and understand the question and then write the answers. The benefits of becoming an AOR are plenty. First you become a certified advocate of the Supreme Court who can plead in his own name. Several public sector companies and private organisations also engage the services of an AOR only. Advocates of High Courts also recognise the Advocate-on-Record. Becoming an AOR helps in boosting the practice and also enhances self-confidence.
- Any advice from your side to all the law students out there, particularly for those who want to get into litigation and aspire to establish their own independent practice?
Litigation is a beautiful profession. Be honest to your profession and the clients. Integrity, perseverance, hard work are the keys to success in any profession. My advice to all the budding litigators is just go out there and make the world your oyster. Success will eventually follow, learn to enjoy the journey. “When the tough gets going, the going gets tough.”