I'll Consider Myself Successful, If My Clients Think They Are in the Best Hands When I Am Fighting for Them - Aakash Bhunia

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1. Tell us about your background and journey. 

I am what you can call an accidental lawyer. My love affair with the subject started only after getting into law school. After my 12th boards I took a year drop to prepare for medicals as that was the plan till then. 

By the mid point of that year I lost all interest in studies and as you can guess, couldn't crack NEET next year. So there I was standing after taking a year drop and still not knowing what to do with my life. 

But I had to get into something this year, there was no other option. I almost applied in all random subjects in all the major colleges in Kolkata. I was throwing everything at the wall desperately hoping something would stick. And it did. 

I cleared the entrance for BBA in Scottish Church College, BA.LLB in Calcutta University and also got a chance to study economics in BongoBashi College(U can understand from the variety of subjects, how desperately i was hoping to just get into something and not waste another year). 

I chose BA.LLB because my parents felt it was the most lucrative among the three. So, that;s how I got into Law.  I Had no idea about the stream and didn't even know if I'd like it. 

Fortunately, for me.. i did. Now I won't be able to pinpoint the particular point when I fell in love with the subject (That's not how love works right?), but by the end of the 1st semester I was sure this is something I can do for the rest of my life. 

That's how my journey in law started, and that's why I tell any junior of mine who cares to ask, that it is absolutely ok to not have an idea what to do in life right after boards. If you have a clear goal, great, but if you don't, no need to freak out, You WILL eventually figure it out.

Then Lawve it! started from the very basic idea that there was not enough online study material for law students when i was studying in 1st semester. I thought it would be a good idea to make online lectures on various legal topics in the curriculum, because I could not find one. 

I thought if I presented well people would listen even though I was only a student. Today in Lawve it! we make videos on social and other legal topics apart from the curriculum as well, but the genesis was from the basic idea of solving the problem of not having enough online study material.

2. What do you think are the key differences in studying law in Indian and other countries?

To be very honest, it is not just law, I feel education in any field in India still does not take full advantage of the technologies that are available at its behest. This covid lockdown has forced teachers and students to pursue online classes, powerpoint presentations and all that stuff, but in colleges professors could have taken classes with powerpoint presentations earlier as well, it would have been much more lively. 

But that never happened. So this is as a whole, what I think the education system in India lacks as compared to some of the developed countries. Not enough utilisation of available technology and the very inflexible nature of the curriculum, which i am really hopeful will see changes once the New Education Policy 2020 gets introduced.
As for law in particular, I cannot say very particularly about other countries but here I think in my university, there is a lack of organisation in giving internships to students. See in law practical experience and application is a big differentiator of how good a lawyer you are going to become. 

And I really feel colleges should take active steps to ensure each and every student at least gets a minimum 2-3 months of internship before getting into final year. But that does not happen. 

The students need to make their own arrangements for getting any sort of internship in any courts and this becomes particularly tough to arrange for students who don't have a legal background in their family or close circle. 

So, ya I feel this is something that the current system lacks: an organised internship granting procedure and so if you are thinking of getting into law, better try arranging for an internship for yourself in your 3rd or 4th semester itself because you are not gonna get any help.

3. Which top institutes would you recommend for studying law?

There are many. The NLUs are of course in everyone's bucket list. But even apart from that, there are many good government colleges under Calcutta University or Delhi University or Banaras Hindu University in which u can enroll.

Then there are private universities like the Symbiosis, NALSAR etc.. KIIT is also good as far as i know, but they do cost you a hefty amount. So if money is a concern definitely try going for government colleges but the quality of education in private colleges are also equally good.
But understand that, more than the actual education imparted, the main difference in the good and average law school is the amount  of exposure you are getting. The NLUs provide great exposure through various seminars, moot courts, debates, mock trials, internships, court visits and stuff, which you may not get in, say a CU college. But having said that, what law school you went in plays a miniscule part in what kind of a lawyer you are going to become. 

I gave you some college names, don't trust that, do your research, see what college fits your budget and circumstances perfectly and try to get enrolled in that. (You may get a chance in NLU bangalore, but u stay in say Patna and you parents don't want to go that far, then get enrolled in a law college that is not so far, it really doesn't matter) . 

As a general rule of thumb, appear in the CLAT(Common Law Entrance Test, for getting into NLUs) and the entrance of Your local university. After that you can go for AILET(For delhi NLU only) and entrances for other universities.

4. What advice would you pass on to someone who wants to be a lawyer?

You have to enjoy reading. You need to. Yes, law is about application as I have said earlier, yes it looks and is fun arguing and counter arguing in courts, cross  examining someone on the witness box, closing deals for companies, but that is just one part of it. 

If you want to be a good lawyer you have to be ready to spend hours in your desk going through the facts of your case, precedents, rules, laws etc etc. Always remember that a successful trial at court or a successful closure of a deal is backed by hours of gruelling paper work on the desk which we don't see. 

We see the results but not the process. If you are coming into law, don't come lured by just those results, be prepared to go through the process as well.

So no. 1 hardworking and obviously it goes without saying smart working as well. But apart from that, actively try to hone your logic always. No matter where you are, try to be logical in every scenario. whenever you are told something, apply your own logic to it. 

Me and my friends are a very different person now, than what we were when we first got into law school because overtime we have developed this strong sense of logic and analysis within ourselves that we cannot but help think logically in practically every scenario that we face in our lives. 

To be honest though, your friends(non-lawyer) and family are gonna give you a lot of slack for this, for arguing and counter arguing even in normal circumstances, but that is a collateral damage you have to take I suppose, it has now been embedded in my personality. 

So, no. 2 logical thinking and analytical mind. Then  you need to have the ability to extract the gist from pages and pages of dry documents. As a lawyer you'll have to go through a lot of paperwork. You need to have the ability to extract useful Information from the bundle of useless data. 

This skill often gets ignored but try honing it actively, it will be really useful in your professional life. 

So, no. 3 eye for detail among heaps of useless information. Along with this, you have the common skills like being a good orator, being quick witted and all that. Those are the most obvious things you need to become a lawyer, which everyone pretty much knows. So I did not talk about them and rather suggested to you some of the more unconventional skills that I feel are imperative for a good lawyer.

5. What are the various career scopes after being a lawyer?

Endless. Gone are the days when litigation was the only main option for a lawyer after passing out. There have never been more kinds of career opportunities available than in 2020. 

In this era of digitalisation and globalisation, you can become almost anything you want if you are skilled at it. Coming back to law, what can you do after passing out? Well, obviously there are the more traditional options like independent litigation, joining a law firm, going for civil services, joining the corporate world as a law officer and of course the coveted judiciary. But the choices don't end there. 

Consider these more unconventional career options as well; You can be a freelance legal journalist, you can get into arbitration(getting more and more popular in India with every passing day), you can be a legal journal writer if writing is what excites you, heck you can make legal tutorial videos and upload them online for educational purpose like we do here at lawve it! or like more established channels like finology legal or sanyog Vyas Law Classes, you can get into academics both online and offlines. 

The point is, possibilities are abundant, try to figure out what excites you most during those 5 years in law school, and then follow it after you pass out. You can do more than one stuff as well. 

You can practice and be an online tutor at the same time. My only advice would be to not be scared of doing experiments, because this generation has that cushion where they can experiment in their mid twenties without putting a lot at stake. Our parents did not have that luxury, generally speaking. Make sure to make it count.

6. What does success look like to you in this job?

Personally speaking, at the monetary level, reaching a stage where you won't have to think about money on a daily basis, you won't have to think how your daily needs will be taken care of would be success for me. 

Once you reach a certain level of monetary stability(this value may vary from individual to individual) , more money won't mean more happiness(the law of diminishing returns.)

On a more personal level, I think for me, I'll be happy with my life and consider myself successful, if my clients think they are in the best hands when I am fighting for them, they feel relieved and at the same time whoever is my opponent in court, I should invoke such a reverence within him or her that they feel the need to bring their A game when against me. 

If my opposing counsel thinks of me as 'ah, Akash, we don't need to worry about him', then I'll definitely consider myself unsuccessful in my job.

And with Lawve it! I just want to make a positive impact and influence people in whatever way. If students or other people get value out of our videos, they learn something and in doing that I am able to touch their lives in whatsoever way, I'll consider myself successful in that. 

Now, make no mistake, I absolutely want to make lawve it! an independent thriving business, no doubt there, but providing adequate legal information out there has and will always remain a priority. Lawve it!, no matter however big it becomes someday, or comes crashing down, will always be a passion project.

7. Which is your favourite book and why?

There are many books that I absolutely adore, like Amish's Ramchandra and Shiva series, Harry potter series, Byomkesh Bakshi, Feluda, Tenida (Bengali legendary books) etc. 

In non-fiction I loved a book called Happy by Darren Brown, then there was Stephen Hawking's The Theory of Everything, Radhakrishnan Pillai's Corporate Chanakya is another great book. But apart from all this, there is one particular story I love. 

And I want to talk about that. It's called 'Wicky', written by Gautam Bhattacharya. I read it in the 15th october, 2018 edition of "robibar", a weekly magazine that is published every sunday by 'Sangbad Pratidin'. 

The story follows the journey of a wicketkeeper from his teenages to finally getting into the Indian team. It's a fictional story of course, but is intertwined with reality. An augmented reality for your mind. I don't even know if you can find this story anywhere else or not, I still have that original 2018 magazine. 

I preserved it with a lot of care. Whenever I feel low, I feel down, I feel burned out, I go back to that story , and it energizes me to push through once again, everytime, without failure. 

Without giving away much, this story is in the truest sense an underdog story. How a man coming from nothing, pushes through every obstacle thrown at him, earning mentors, friends and enemies along the way, how he breaks down but again somehow finds the courage to stand up again, is what makes this story special. 

If I have to suggest you to read one book/story this is the one, all those books mentioned previously, make no mistake, I love them, they are some of the greatest books I ever read, but this book is what I prefer to call 'life-changing', nothing had such deep impact on me ever. Search 'wiky' on google I hope u come across the online edition of that day's paper. Please do give it a read.

Interviewed by - Divas Aggarwal

Edited by - Vayun Sahni

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