Adv. Jayant Bhatt is a first-generation independent litigator based in New Delhi. He holds dual Masters of Law (LL.M.) from New York University, USA and National University of Singapore. He is a member of International Bar Association. In the past he has worked with dispute resolution and litigation team of Clyde and Co. LLP in Dubai for 2 years and worked for 1 year in the chambers of Mr. Amit Sibal. Over the course of his legal journey he has managed to specialize in various avenues of criminal litigation.
What Should a Law Student Learn To Start Off Well? Nowadays, Students Dedicate Their Time To Moots, Research, Internships And Debating. Is It The Right Path?
I think this a good curriculum that law school have and they always encourage there law students to participate in all these activities whether that be debates, moot courts, writing research papers, preparing dissertation, so i think its a very good overall development and I think the internships which comes with it are interesting part of it.
So law students must avail of these opportunities wherever they are or whatever law school or college they are studying in. If they Can’t come to metropolitan cities I must say that they must at least look for the organisations, the local courts within their cities they are residing in and at least get in touch with especially local lawyers who resides nearby or who are known to their family members because then i think it helps a law student in a very good manner and helps in overall growth.
According to you are there any set of habits a law student must have or should inculcate that can help them in their future when they complete their studies and come into practice?
I think a little bit of focus and hard work is always there with the law students. At least I can’t speak about other students in general, but at least I had the privilege of interacting with lot of my interns over the years and what I see is by far all of them have been really sincere and students who are very focused to do what they want to do in their life.
When i give them a research task, when I give them a file to read, when I ask them to go court. I don’t think there been a time where any of them have been stopped or lacked in an approach and they have always been forthcoming about it and always very participative.
So I think students in today’s time and age already know what they want to do. At least in my attempt when I was in law school about 17 odd years ago in 2002 when I completed my studies we were also very serious and that seriousness is taken 10 steps further now because students are doing multiple internships, multiple training programs across the legal set up or even in the industries which are not related to law. And they must keep doing this and keep improving.
What is the relevance of pursuing masters in law from other country, the law being different from India?
There are two there things when I pursued my masters there where two different universities one was New York University which is a US university the other one is National University of Singapore which is a Asian university and we must realize that both these countries are common law countries however when you go abroad when you want to do your masters or whatever degree it may be you also gain an overall exposure in the term of modalities how law is designed and interpreted in those countries how the legal market functions in those different jurisdictions.
So it gives you a very deferment of mind not that there is anything wrong in doing your masters in India or pursuing a degree here. But I think if one can avail as these are expensive courses there are dozens of scholersh9ips and if your family can fund it.
Try to have such experience because such experiences are enriching experience. The first degree you have done in India is the LLB degree already by and large you have read Indian laws and you know how the Indian legal market functions. But to get an idea is to how the foreign market functions I think it’s a good idea to have exposure of the foreign markets also.
So especially in today’s time and age the market is very inclusive the world is interlinked. So as you are a corporate lawyer you would do deals which might be international in nature. Even as a litigation lawyer sometimes client comes from all the jurisdictions not just India so in able to help them and it’s beneficial. And i am not saying that only degree equips you to do that but if you are doing that degree it gives you deferment of mind andit give you that utter advantage to think differently i would say.
Is it necessary to do LL.M if you are seeing forward your career in litigation as it is in our mind that a person goes for post graduation only if have some future academic plans?
There is no harm in doing masters degree but please understand that LL.M is a academic course. People who do it does it for academic gratification. But LL.B is your license to practice. Whatever country you may be in you may be in India you may be in U.S or whatever nation that comes to your mind.
Your first degree that entitles you to go to court, Argue your matters is your LL.B degree. So once your LL.B degree is done it is completely your choice whether you want to do masters or you don’t want to do your masters. In fact of late I through one of my LinkedIn post did conveyed to the people at large.
Because LL.M you can do at any phase of your life you may be a recent graduate, you may be working and you want to do masters or executive masters. There are different courses designed for different people but having said that Is there a compulsion at least in today’s market to do a masters? I would say no because the market is bad.
Just yesterday I was talking to one of my ex intern who is now a practicing lawyer and he says sir I have dropped all my plans as I was going to apply this year but because of corona virus me along with 20 of my colleagues who are in practice. who are working lawyer, who are with judges, Independent lawyers have deferred their plans. Because we don’t know how the market is going to bail out. It is a very very tough time for lot of people out there.
What is your advice to the students who are just about to start their career how should they move forward in their career like first practice before District court and thereafter before the Appellate courts?
So far as the supreme court is concerned you can’t supreme court has already been came out with a rule saying that first year law graduates practicing under somebody and are making appearance in supreme court can seek only Passover and adjournment in the first year of practice. Imagine yourself going to supreme court not knowing how a high court or a trial court work. High Court in some conditions a first appellate court. But trial court lets you learn the modalities how a case is filled how a case is conducted or hoe the case is fought in a court of law.
So when any lawyer based out of district court tells you that look district court is perhaps the right forum to start your practice i would not say it as a wrong advice I would say that it is an good advice. I have also practiced in a trial court and I still go to trial court for a lot of my matters. So I think it is a fantastic forum to start your Practice. It gives you that grounding.
For example you are doing criminal litigation or civil litigation it will teach you how to cross examination, how to conduct a trial, how to read a file properly and eventually it will help you on your course of becoming a lawyer. When you are planning to go to High Court practice or eventually to Supreme court practice if you don’t know how to read a trial court file and straight away reach to Supreme Court imagine this and your senior gives you a file and say why don’t you tell how the process penned out, why don’t you tell any lacunae in cross or in some chief in this file. You would not know how to read it because you know you are fresh out of law school. You never seen these courts functioning them that becomes a problem and as a result you might be get scolded by either from the senior or from the judge eventually because you don’t know how to read your file.
Are one month internships sufficient to learn if you want to pursue litigation?
It’s not about one month or two months internship there are varieties of internships these days you have online internships, remote internships so things have changed i think the technology the reach of students also increased many folds. What traditionally internships used to has changed but at the same time let say completely from litigation point of view. If you want to do a litigation internship it is necessary to know how a court functions and you to know how a court functions. You have to be in a chamber which is catering to a litigation requirements where you can go to a court with them and assist your senior and see how trial court functions and that is very important.
Coming to your question that one month is enough. Look leaning is always constant. So even if you graduate and start working. The first month of your job is always toughest its only gradually that you realize that where you are going wrong how you can improve upon things and i think similar approach applies to your internship. If in first year you do a District Court internship and you have not read Cr.PC or evidence or CPC then you will be in a little bit difficulty in understanding the basic modalities that how a court functions. But if you do the same internship in your 4th Year even for a month or two but having similar internships prior to that would give you an overall grounding and grooming for how a litigation internship should come about. So I think it is not a matter of month but a matter of how consistent are you in your internships.
What are your views on practicing in a specialized field or diversified practice?
I think that diversified practice because if today you say i will do A thing there is no problem in it if you feel passionately about a field of law. Let’s say for example you say you will be a aviation lawyers, IPR lawyer the problem is if you are to rudimentary about it in the start of your career you may get struck with it and then you will never have that flexibility to change. But as a junior lawyer you enter in the profession i think for at least 2-4 years do as many things as possible. It will only give you good grooming. It will give you a foresight, a variety of cases to work on and then after four years you can decide if you really want to specialize in a particular field of law and that’s fine. Because now you are going to do law all your life. So I think the first 2-4 years are very important in getting your grounding right. So I think at least in those times do as many cases of multiple varieties as possible.
What are your views regarding increasing crimes in these hard times on health workers?
I think the government through lockdown and other measures have already made a lot of efforts. Every day we are getting some tough guidelines. Look corona is a very new phenomenon people are grappling with the whole idea of how to cure it as there is no cure in the market. So I don’t think to my mind we should be using it as a weapon to prosecute somebody saying that you know by lodging an F.I.R saying that they are criminal. According to me it doesn’t make sense right now. Unless the person has been tested positive and then tries to harm somebody things are different. But if you don’t know virus is inside your body how it does makes sense it doesn’t. Also I personally feel that once corona virus gets over and things will get normal then there would be increase in crimes. Because the difference between supply and demand will increase. More cases of dacoits, robbery, theft because commerce is hard hit and people are losing there jobs. So a surge will be definitely be seen.
What are your suggestion to Law students and Practitioners for utilizing the time they having right now?
As far as students are concerned students are keeping themselves quiet busy. Most of the colleges and schools are having online webinars and lectures. So I think students are quite packed because you can’t have a youth force not adhering to a time table. So I think the faculties and students are doing what they are supposed to do.
For Practitioners it’s a tough time specially in litigation because courts are functioning in a very limited manner and as a result of lockdown everyone is home bound. The Lawyers, Practitioners are conducting webinars and interactive panel sessions online. So I think we are trying to keep ourselves busy in our own ways.
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