This article was submitted to Ergo by Aditya Sarkar, a first-year student at the NALSAR, Hyderabad.
People always have a fascination for the after-life and what happens to a human being’s soul once that person is on the other side. Many of us have heard of near-death experiences, surely it’s a thing in fiction (cue Harry Potter references), but it still remains shrouded in mystery and conjecture. It’s somewhat similar to how life is before and after getting into law school. While we may have lofty dreams (or nightmares) and have heard of ‘near death’ experiences from seniors or friends in law school or lawyers, it’s time to clear the air about the constant, nagging question of what law school is all about. Hopefully, my account of before and after death (law school is not death, trust me!) helps.
The one question that the annoying aunt, the senior in law school, the concerned parent and the insidious voice in your head asks is why you want to choose law as a career. I have battled with this question myself. Every student in law school has to, at some point in their life. In the midst of thinking up filmy reasons such as fighting for the despaired or setting the right precedents in society, or practical dilemmas such as earning enough to support a comfortable lifestyle, I found that at least, for me, law is one subject that pervades every sphere of human knowledge and experience that makes life interesting. From all things under the earth, above it in space and even things beyond, the law is the one constant that regulates the framework of whatever we do. It sets out the framework within which each individual works in society and is the tool one may use to realize one’s fullest potential within that framework. Apart from that, having skills like communication, quick thinking, argumentation, analytical reasoning and the ability to do dry reading into the ungodly hours of the night makes one’s life in law school and the years beyond bearable. However, even answers like this do not fully summarize why I wanted to be a lawyer, and the beautiful thing is, there is no definite right or wrong answer when it comes to questions such as these.
I fatefully decided to take up law as a career right after my class X Board examinations. After trying to decide between being a doctor, a veterinarian, a pilot, a soldier, an astronaut, a Bollywood actor (I’m a big Shah Rukh Khan fan) and others in my rather limited time on earth, but an unlimited scope of imagination, law seemed to be the most plausible and lucrative thing to take up in college. I had hoped I’d develop a love for it soon enough because apparently that is a requirement for one to be successful at his/her career. Well, if not successful, at least not regret their life decisions for eternity. After a brief amount of research on the internet, it seemed interesting enough for me to immediately enroll in coaching classes for this rather alien examination called CLAT. And the rest, they say is history!
Almost two years on, after I decided to write my CLAT examination and after five months in law school at NALSAR, I must recount that history to you. It is a rude shock, of sorts to be in law school. Especially if you’re living away from home, alone in a foreign environment. Add to that a language barrier and you have a beautiful near-death experience to recount. However, it has been enlightening so far. I enrolled in those CLAT coaching classes hoping that I would come to love what I would be doing ten years on, and up until now, I feel like I have made the right decision. I’m more relieved than anything. Others might feel different though. For some, it has been their life’s dream to be doing law, for some, it was simply luck that they’ve made it to law school, and still others who are here by a bad turn of pitch and toss.
Whatever the sentiment may be, I can say one thing for anyone who is in law school. It has edified them as individuals. World views have expanded, exposure to a wide variety of subjects relating to social sciences, philosophy, commerce and others have given us all fresh perspective into life and as can be said from the experience of a college-goer, it has been a time of self-discovery. Personally, I am glad that I can walk into a hostel room and see even the back-benchers of our classes contributing to a heavy discussion about geo-politics, social dilemmas, Derrida’s deconstructionist theories and other Kafka-esque topics at three in the morning! Being in a competitive environment where you have people who are as motivated and focussed on what you yourself want to do makes it one where you keep pushing yourself and driving yourself to achieve the best possible results. It creates a profit-driven environment where you can truly challenge your boundaries and evaluate yourself as an individual in response to your external surroundings. Yes, I get a lot less sleep than I would have liked, assignments are difficult and tedious given our workload and the onerous deadlines. But it has been a gratifying experience so far. I have been exposed to so many diverse and interesting subjects, been able to hear from eminent personalities about what the power of law can do in a society, been able to find a niche for myself in a sea of talent, and survived nights with a total stranger who has become a reliable roommate!
Often we tend to think that once we are in law school, things automatically will start making sense as though cracking the CLAT exam is synonymous to attaining legal nirvana. But it never is that way. All of us have a vague idea, some clearer than others, about what they would like out of their career choice in law. Whether they have an inclination towards corporate law, environmental law, litigation, social welfare practice, it means not much more than Greek to us. And the sentiment is more or less the same before and after law school. It’s only that we’re in a better position to realize what we want to do ‘in the lion’s den’ than otherwise. So, one doesn’t have to have life figured out in order to be in law school. Law school is a tumultuous process that a lot of us will enjoy, given the correct attitude about it. One has to allow themselves to be undecided and take several leaps of faith when it comes to all things law.
It is, of course, easier said than done – this business of leaping and faith and self-discovery and nirvana. But one thing I can say about this entire process and my transformation from a CLAT aspirant to a law student – it is a true adventure. There will be ups and downs, we may not be able to see what is ahead of us beyond a sharp curve, and there will be precarious situations where one may feel like it’s not worth the risk or the effort. All these things are part-and-parcel of making life decisions such as this. I myself didn’t have a big picture to look forward to (and the idea about lawyers from shows like Suits and Boston Legal doesn’t help our cause, I assure you).
In retrospect, I’m glad I took the leap of faith. I was interested in law. I found the legal reasoning section of the CLAT paper challenging (I could literally keep solving them all day!). I hoped law school would introduce me to a lot of different subjects and world views. I wanted college to be fun. And slowly but surely, law school is providing some of the answers, if not re-evaluating some of my questions. I still am undecided about what I want to do after my five years in law school. I hope I can decide soon. But at the end of the day, it’s all about the journey, isn’t it?
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