1. Please introduce yourself to our readers?
Namaskar, I am Samriddhi Mishra.
So far as my educational qualifications are concerned, I am a law graduate of 2015-2020 from Faculty of Law, University of Lucknow. I have also done LLM with specialisation in constitutional and administrative law from Faculty of Law, Banaras Hindu University in 2020-2021. Thereafter, I appeared in CLAT PG 2022 and was fortunate to secure AIR 1.
Currently, I work as Assistant Law Officer at Power Grid Corporation of India Limited, a Maharatna CPSE. I am under training for a period of one year.
Apart from that, I am a resident of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. I have been a KVian (student of Kendriya Vidyalaya). I really enjoy debates and public speaking since school. I was member of Moot Court Committee at my university for a year. Recently, I have not been very regular but I like to read biographies, history, fiction, etc. barring the self-help books. Having completed my schooling and college from Lucknow itself, I currently move to new cities every few days and months for on-the-job training. I have not been very extrovert, but I am inculcating liking for travelling, meeting new people, exploring new surroundings and new cultural landscapes, and adapting to the frequent changes these days.
2. Please let us know what is it that draws you to the study of law?
My father is a lawyer. He practises at Lucknow Bench of High Court. I have seen him in the black robes since childhood. I have seen him preparing files and meeting clients. I always regarded the profession of law very respectful, but my father never pushed either of us siblings into it.
During school, I realised that I like to speak and make valid arguments and that I am decently good at this. Further, I was fortunate to get a very good social science teacher Urmila Gupta ma’am. I loved the fundamental rights chapter in Class X so much in political science that I tried reading Part III of the Constitution at my father’s chamber on my own. I even taught the same in my school on teacher’s day.
I was a PCM student and was mediocre at it. The application of science is not very apparent in day-to-day life unless you have that keen eye for it. Opposed to that, I saw law at work and realised its practical utility. I think that drew me to law. Later, at law school, I was introduced to the large expanse of law. The teachers, the seniors and the peers all together nurtured my interest further.
3. Could you tell us your preparation strategy that helped you crack CLAT exam?
Before, I elaborate over it, I must give a caveat that it was not my first attempt. I have given many other competitive exams earlier including CLAT 2021. So, it was not a singular strategy for CLAT 2022 that I followed and succeeded. It was cumulative result of the effort I had put so far.
During CLAT 2021, I was working as a Law Clerk (Trainee) at Allahabad High Court, which involved reading a lot of judgments. So, I decided to give a shot to it. I prepared for a week and was able to secure Rank 138.
In 2022, I focussed more. I was simultaneously preparing for other exams, so I made a good command on basics like bare acts, landmark judgments and theory parts, which is not much of focus in CLAT. The trend analysis of CLAT 2020 and 2021 (since the new pattern has been introduced) showed that only very landmark judgments that had Constitutional Bench, made news or became topic of columns in legal news portals were asked.
I read only such judgments for CLAT 2022.
One does not need to do a full-fledged one year preparation for CLAT if you have studied decently at college. We already have a good understanding of law, and CLAT does not expect more in this regard. I followed 100 judgments of the year 2021 video of a legal news portal YouTube Channel (Live Law) and the monthly round-up videos of months of 2022 and reduced it to a list of 60, based on the syllabus of CLAT and my understanding of what judgments have been in news over the time. I read them all and made short 1-2 page notes of each. At least 20 of them were from constitutional law only. This took me 2 months when I only gave 2 hours to it in a day. I specially revised jurisprudence and international law in detail from notes a week before exam as I was already studying other subjects for other exams earlier. I simply revised notes I had prepared of judgments and gave the exam.
Therefore, certain things worked for me – deciding sufficiently earlier that I have to take this exam, limiting my judgment list, not starting from scratch, but relying on my college studies.
I did not take any coaching for CLAT as such. I subscribed to a mock test, but left it realising that it does not match the new pattern accurately and might waste my time.
4. How is CLAT PG different from CLAT UG?
I had written the CLAT UG in 2015, but could not secure a good NLU. The pattern of UG has also changed in 2020. What I can recall from my experience of 2015 is that it was difficult to prepare for it without special guidance like coaching because law is not taught at school, but there were questions relating to legal maxims and legal reasoning. Undoubtedly, there must be people who have prepared on their own and cracked it. Since the pattern has changed, I cannot say much with certainty.
From the people I meet who have graduated from NLUs, I can say it definitely gives great exposure and it is worth preparing for. Having said that, I would add, not making it to NLU is not the end.
Talking about CLAT PG, it expects you to know what you studied at LLB. In addition to the opportunity of studying at NLU, it also offers employment opportunity at PSUs like Power Grid, HPCL, IOCL, ONGC, NTPC, THDC, etc.
5. With the constant change in CLAT PG question paper pattern, how did you prepare yourself for uncertainty?
In simple words, you can never prepare for uncertainty. You have to prepare for certain things only. Previous year papers are the key. Even for CLAT 2020, the mock test of consortium was the key. I did trend analysis and strictly followed that. They focus on constitutional law, jurisprudence, family law, criminal law and international law. Every aspirant can easily deduce that. Other than that, I studied the provisions which were discussed in judgments you are reading.
You are right in pointing out the constantly evolving pattern. To face that uncertainty, the only thing I did is not panicking in examination hall. We have studied everything in law school. I tried to answer accordingly as much as I could recall. I also made some calculated guesses.
6. Does it often happen that aspirants get stressed during preparation? Are there times when you faced stress and what would you suggest to the aspirants on dealing with stress?
Long sitting hours and monotonous routine definitely causes stress at times. Other than that, there are daily life issues other than studies which might distress us. However, it is important to realise that it is part and parcel for a competitive exam aspirant’s life and actually, life in general.
I used to take breaks, listen songs, sit with family for some time or call a friend, whatever I felt suitable then. I also started taking care of some plants and spend some time there during preparation period.
The important part is not letting it become a barrier. My suggestion is if one feels stressed, one must try to release it. Everybody shall have their own way. And never let yourselves go into guilt mode that you wasted time or you lack concentration. Take a break and restart. Making a plan and adjusting it again and again is normal. Just ensure that you are moving forward in your preparation. Gradually increase the goals. Motivate yourselves with small successes.
7. How important is doing proper legal research and how should law students equip themselves with legal research skills?
Law is a constantly evolving field. Research skills are very important for a lawyer irrespective of the career one takes. With so many online sources like SCC, Manupatra, etc. it has become very easy these days. One can learn to use these platforms in a day. The industrious part is inculcating reading habit. My commercial law Professor at University of Lucknow Ashish Srivastava Sir used to tell us that a law student must do indiscriminate reading. It widens our horizon to perceive things. Research becomes very easy once you get the hack of reading.
Other than that, writing research papers, participating in moot court competitions, internships, etc. are helpful to enhance your skills. The more you do, the more you learn. I see a lot of students writing papers for the sake of it. Never do that. Focus quality and not quantity. Never try to copy. Write in your own words. This I learned during my dissertation that the job of a researcher is to put things into simplest words. One does not need to use an incomprehensibly complicated vocabulary. Research is definitely not invention, it is research. But, it must have your contribution into it. Certificates do not matter, your skills do.
8. Not many people are familiar with the concept of “exhaustion of research”. What are your views on it?
This happens at times. During my tenure at High Court, we often were presented with conflicting precedents on same subject of equal strength or even same precedent was relied by both the parties interpreting it in their respective favour. No opinion should be made unless one has read all the relevant materials. I always follow the chain of statute, commentary and then precedents, and this works. If you still feel the law is not settled on the point, your opinion should be based on reason and justice.
9. What are your views on the prospects of LLM from NLU?
My purpose for taking CLAT PG was to secure employment in a PSU only as I was already enrolled at BHU. The reason I did LLM was to learn research properly under a guide. It also gave me specialisation in a subject.
LLM from NLU is definitely a great opportunity, especially for people interested to specialise in business laws, human rights, intellectual property rights (IPR), etc.
10. Lastly, is there any advice you would like to share with the law students aspiring to apply for LLM?
I have taken two entrances for LLM – CLAT and BHU, in which I was Rank 12. One can seize an opportunity only if one knows and pursue it. Some of my seniors have secured foreign LLM scholarship offers as well. PG entrances are not difficult. They generally do not expect more than what you studied in the 5 years of your law school.
My advice is simply that, decide early what exams you want to take, what universities you want to apply at. Keep a keen eye at the dates. Plan accordingly. Just plan and execute. CLAT is a great option. There are many reputed universities and institutions that have their own enrolment procedure. There are numerous foreign universities that offer scholarships for it. First of all, one needs to know what one wants. Find out the procedure, syllabus and other particulars and work accordingly.