An Interview with Mr. Saunak Rajguru

1. Hello sir, please introduce yourself to our readers.

I hail from Berhampur, a coastal city in Southern Odisha and I am a first-generation lawyer holding a B.BA.LLB (Constitutional Law Hons.) degree from School of Law, KIIT University (KLS), Bhubaneswar [2014-19 batch].After graduation, I joined J. Sagar Associates, New Delhi and am actively involved in the disputes practice of the firm with primary focus in the energy and transportation sector. My specialization is in constitutional law, energy laws, administrative law, and environmental laws and my scope of work covers the entire spectrum of drafting of Pleadings & arguing matters before specialised Commissions, Tribunals, various High Courts and the Supreme Court of India.

2. Please tell us about your college life. What were your interests and who motivated you?

Life in KLS was no less than a roller coaster ride!Throughout college, I constantly engaged myself in different events. In my 1st year at law school, I participated in several National Parliamentary Debates, Cricket tournaments, co-founded an NGO and loved attending the lectures of Prof. Dr. N.L. Mitra (our then Chancellor) on Contract Act.Slowly, I ventured into Mooting and ended up doing some 17-18 Moots and few Trial Advocacy Competitions. I won about 4 National Moots and bagged numerous other Mooting awards including 5 Best Speaker tags, 3 Best Memorial tags etc. Further, I interned throughout my college the moment I got an opportunity.

Throughout college, my biggest motivation were my parents, my mentor Prof. Bagchi, few close friends and my own failures.

3. You are an avid mooter in our country and a Bar Council of India Trust scholar,how does it feel to you?

BCI Trust awards a Scholarship to the best Speakers/Mooters (over-all) of the BCI Moot Court Competition. Winning the Best Male Advocate award in 33rd BCI was special. But what was more satisfying was clean sweeping BCI Moot since our team won the Moot, my team-mate bagged the Best Female Advocate, we bagged the Best Memorial for the 3rd Round (BCI has 4 rounds with 4 different propositions) and ended up with the team bagging about 7 awards that evening! We got a red-carpet entry back in college with fireworks and felicitation flowing for days together. BCI win was much more than a personal achievement. KLS had won the BCI Moot in 2013 and there was a drought for 4 years and thus the thirst. With a common aim and desire and with the effective support from the college administration, including the then Director, Prof. Dr. N.K. Chakraborty and KLSMCS’ Faculty Convenor, Ms. Pratiti Nayak, the team brought back the BCI trophy to KLS after 4 years.

Mooting is something I enjoyed doing. Resultantly, I kept on participating in various Moots dealing with diverse fields of law. On numerous occasions, I went beyond my comfort zone. Apart from the BCI win, the wins in IIT KGP (IP law) Moot, SOA Moot, UFYLC Ranka; close losses in UPES Trial Finals, MSR and NCU Semis and Stetson quarters (twice) have been some really enriching experiences.

Winning a Moot was always satisfying. Losing a Moot on the other hand made me think/approach differently towards my next Moot. I took it Moot by Moot and never let the previous win/loss impact my next Moot. During this journey, I had the opportunity to learn a lot from my really amazing teammates, other participants across all colleges, the Judges etc. Although there are plenty of anecdotes about my Mooting journey, the best experiences have been while arguing before the sitting/retd. Judges of the Supreme Court and various High Courts in the final rounds of different Moots.

4. How important mooting is in a law student’s career?

To keep it short, Mooting helps in improving the analytical and research skills which is a key requirement for any career in law. A lawyer’s life starts and ends with constantly interpreting the law, and Mooting as an activity exposes a law student to this at an early stage itself. That being said, Mooting is not a pre-requisite to make a good career in law. There are many other ways of acquiring the skills of research, analysis and persuasiveness even without Mooting. If students start considering Mooting as a fun activity, with loads of learning and networking opportunities, Mooting will definitely boost ones’ career prospects. To be honest, it was initially difficult to bag good internships at the first shot. However, when my CV recorded about 2-3 Moot winsaround early 3rd year of law school, I had started receiving positive responses from Senior Advocates and Law Firms, often without following up with a trail mail or a call!

5. During your student life you have done a lot of internships. Please tell our readers the role of internship in shaping professional career.

I interned at around 16 places including internships under Hon’ble J. N.V. Ramana,Judge, Supreme Court of India, Senior Advocates being, Ms. Indira Jaising; Ms. Geeta Luthra; Mr. Amarjit Singh Chandhiok, Tier-1 law firms viz. JSA (twice), Shardul Amarchand (Kolkata office) and Cyril Amarchand (Chennai office), other Advocates being Mr. Zoheb Hossain, AoR; Ms. Vrinda Grover etc. I also did a fewpolicy based internships with CHRI and PUCL. Based on my last internship with JSA, I was offered to join as a trainee and worked with the JSA team during my entire 10th Semester.

Internships are key to gain practical knowledge. Unless you draft, you hardly realize whether your interpretation of the law makes sense. Law school will hardly make you learn the practical aspects of law. One should bag every opportunity to intern during the law school. To start with, one can intern with district court lawyers and focus on observing and learning court procedures, etiquettes and mannerisms. Slowly, internships can be channelized into segments and different areas of law may be explored until 3rd year. Once a student enters the 4th year, the internships must then align with the career goals. You cannot have a deep interest in IP law, but opt for an internship in Competition Law (e.g.) in your final 2 years of law school. That will not be appreciated by a potential recruiter. Colleges which are located in proximity to courts, must encourage the students to do running internships throughout the year.

One must keep in mind that slowly, Law Firms and even Law Chambers are mostly recruiting from their interns’ pool instead of opting for direct placements. Such an approach helps the recruiter to get a fair idea regarding the potential candidate and on other hand the intern also gets a hang of the work culture, the pressure etc. at the workplace. Thus, students should constantly intern as and when they get an opportunity.

6. Please suggest our reader that how to secure position in top law firm internship.

There is no straight-jacket formula for bagging an internship with a Tier-I law firm or for that matter in any other given firm. Having said that, it is important to thoroughly research about the Firm, the concerned Partner (must), the areas of practice and the leading cases the Firm has been involved with, and the same must be kept in mind while drafting a tailor-made cover letter (short and crisp). This is to ensure that your inclination towards working in the firm gets reflected in your Application. The attached CV must be updated and should speak for itself!Please ensure that you apply for the internship well in advance. In case you don’t receive a prompt response, please do follow-up through an email or a call on a fortnightly basis, but not more than twice. If you don’t receive a response after two months from your date Application, you my consider your Application as rejected.

7. Students from traditional law colleges get less exposure than elite law school. So, if you could suggest that how they perform well?

At the outset, I would like to clarify that the I don’t believe in the concept of “elite law schools”. Having said that, I do acknowledge the constant biasness prevailing in the country favoring few colleges.

I personally feel that students at traditional law schools have their own set of advantages. Mostly, they are not bound by the shackles of strict academic regimes and therefore get the opportunity to engage themselves in running internships. There is surely greater flexibility in participating in different events/competition increases. I have seen many students from traditional colleges interning throughout the year at different places, ending up with offers at par with NLUs/Private Colleges. Participate in all kinds of internal seminars/workshops/moots etc., intern consistently and acquire practical skills. You will be well-received by the recruiters!

8. What qualities do you believe help law students get a job?

Dedication, hard work, zeal to learn, communication skills and an open mind the primary qualities that one should possess. This applies irrespective of the stream.

9. What message would you like to give to the Mooters and the Non-Mooters?

To all Mooters out there- “If you don’t see yourself as a Winner, you cannot perform as a Winner”. Always aspire to win. Imagine lifting the trophy at the Valedictory Session while you are yet to even read the Proposition for the Moot. Give your best and then results are inconsequential. Learning and the experience will be your biggest takeaways.

I would like to part my way with a general message- If you don’t know your true calling, try finding it and work hard for it. Don’t let excuses pull you down. If you’re dedicated and determined to do something, you’ll make the best out of what’s there.

Also Read: An Interview with Reeti Tripathy ( Cracked OJS in her first attempt)

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