Interested in choosing law as a career?
We at Eazyprep interviewed lawyer Shireen Khan to catch a glimpse into the actual life of a litigation lawyer and what day-to-day life looks like in this eminent profession. Shireen Khan is an LLM in International Law and Human Rights graduate from Pune University and has a PG Diploma in Human Rights from National Law School of India University, Bangalore. She has been appearing before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, the Hon’ble Delhi High Court, and various Tribunals for more than 6 years. Hoping that her experience will enable you to pursue your passion, the law as a career, let’s catch up on the conversation:
1. Which type of law do you practice? Could you tell us some details?
I have my own practice and work as a consultant in the court. I majorly deal with commercial and civil law. I represent a bank in the court and deal with Writ jurisdiction and Service matters.
2. What does your day-to-day work look like?
As a litigation lawyer, my experience can be a little different from those working for a firm. I reach my office by 9 AM. The district court starts at 10 AM and the High court starts at 10.30 AM. So I sort out my files, look into appointments like early meetings, and so on until then. If there is one issue with being a litigating lawyer, I would have to say that it is the shortage of time.
You have to be present in the court so that you don’t miss your case. Sometimes, your case could be pushed forward or backward, or sometimes, just a call with your client can lead you to miss your turn. So you have to be ever-present during these hours. But all processes get over by 5 PM, so 10.30 to 5 is the time that I work.
After that, you can choose to spend time preparing for the next case. What I do is, I usually pick up my files for the next day and go through my arguments, and return emails or calls that I might have received that day. It is crucial to keep a diary/planner ready at hand if you are choosing law as a career so that you can note down your appointments, which are very easy to forget or miss since you are very busy during the day. This diary is the most important thing a lawyer has and keeps them on track with their work.
At the end of the day, I might also take a few files home to prepare at home.
3. What are the 5 most important qualities a person should have to be a successful legal professional?
1) Determination: One of the most important qualities that one must have in order to become a successful legal professional and to pursue law as a career is determination.
2) Passion: The image of a lawyer walking along court corridors in a black cloak might appear glamorous, but there is real hard work that goes behind it. Choosing law as a career is not choosing to be a lawyer by job, it is the choice of a lifestyle. So only those who are passionate enough to take it up should look towards becoming a lawyer. You cannot lose interest, or fall behind.
3) Patience: You need to be patient as well, for the desired result to come to you. Maybe it will take some time to establish yourself as a lawyer, but one must not give up and should patiently work hard towards their goal.
4) Reading Habit: Being a voracious reader can also help in getting to know more about the field you are working in and acquire more information and knowledge regarding cases that might help you in the future.
5) Language Skills: Command over the language is also an important quality that a lawyer should possess, having to effectively communicate his/ her cause.
4. What are the 4 best things about choosing law as a career?
1)Self-satisfaction: The first and foremost best thing in choosing law as a career is that you gain self-satisfaction. It helps you in serving people, which can make you feel accomplished and happy. I remember the first time I helped a lady with a legal issue. She was not able to pay me much, but the satisfaction I got looking at the happiness on her face after she won the case was unmatchable.
2) Freedom: For people with their own practice like me, you are your own boss, so you don’t have to act according to the rules of others. That freedom and flexibility are great!
3) Monetary benefits: Inevitably, the monetary benefits that come after you are an established lawyer are also a positive factor.
4) Flexibility: You can also have the flexibility of time and holidays, decide on your working days and working hours when you have your own practice.
5) Knowledge: Choosing law as a career gives you a deep insight into how society functions. I think that’s great knowledge and skill to have.
5. What are some of the difficulties one can face as a legal professional?
1)Physically Challenging: One of the major setbacks is that choosing law as a career physically drains you. You cannot fall sick, and sometimes you have to work even on holidays. The only leisure that you might get is on Saturday since there is no court on Sunday and you do not have to prepare.
2) Missing out on quality family time: You can also miss out on quality time with family and friends because of the timings of your work and the preparation you have to do for every case.
3) Men to Women ratio: For women, having fewer females pursuing law as a career can be a difficulty. We need more female lawyers in the field to set a precedent.
4) Late Timings: As an addition to the point above, sometimes the work timings and meetings with colleagues can happen at inconvenient timings. I found it difficult to travel late at night in Delhi, especially since I was new to the city. In such cases, it is important to ensure you have a safe way of commuting.
5) Finding a good senior: It is really important to have a good senior who can mentor you at the beginning after you choose law as a career. Not having a good senior to guide you can seriously affect your profession.
6. Any last advice for legal profession aspirants?
1) Gain experience: Do a lot of internships so that you will have a lot of exposure and experience. This gives you an insight and exposure into newer career options as well, while also ensuring that you make an informed career selection at the end of college.
2) Have a 5-year plan: Having a 5-year plan and a contingency plan can help you. Establishing yourself after choosing law as a career might take some time, so give yourself 5 years and work hard, without getting distracted or losing spirit. This is also the time when you will face financial pressure. So make sure you have a financial plan ready for the first five years after graduation.
3) Do not give in to peer pressure: There might be others in your circle that might succeed faster than you. Do not give in to peer pressure and work at your own pace.
4) Be healthy: Practice meditation and other physical activities so that you have a healthy mind and a healthy body. Don’t lose your vision and work hard towards your goal! All the best!
If you are looking forward to choosing law as a career, Eazyprep hopes this article was of help to you. Along with Shireen, we wish you all the best in achieving your dreams!