The legal profession is based on constant learning: Advocate Jayant Bhatt

The legal profession is based on constant learning: Advocate Jayant Bhatt

Jayant Bhatt is an independent lawyer based out of New Delhi. He holds Masters of Law (LL.M.) from New York University and the National University of Singapore. He is also a member of the prestigious Supreme Court Bar Association and Delhi High Court Bar Association.

In this interview conducted by Campus Ambassador Vishal Sharma, Jayant shares his own journey as a litigation counsel, the value of foreign LL.M's, the need for constant learning, and a whole lot more.

(Edited excerpts)

You have worked at Clyde & Co. and with Senior Advocate Amit Sibal for a brief while. How would you describe your initial years in the field of law? Any specific hurdles faced?

The phase was extremely enriching in terms of learning. Different facets in different work set up, but the sum total is the rich experience you gather by just being associated with good law offices.

As for hurdles, yes as a young lawyer you need to get your head around things quickly as the turnaround time is limited.

I would say more than a hurdle it’s a learning curve.

You have completed LL.M.s from New York University and National University of Singapore. As a student myself, I would really like to know what would be that one feature that stands out as a difference between the Indian legal education system and the one abroad?

In my experience, the college education abroad focuses more on giving you the means to think for yourself and formulate your own ideas about the subjects at hand.

They focus on equipping a student with the tools for thinking about a particular subject from various perspectives and angles.

In the Indian collegiate education system, the focus is on the subject matter as it is, usually a narrower perspective, and not what the student makes of it.

This then leads to a disparity in the real world of law as the student then has to navigate the intricacies of law and develop tools of learning by experience and on their own.

Thus, the focus of the Indian collegiate system should ideally be widening the horizons of learning.

How has your foreign LL.M. experiences helped in the practice of law?

My LL.M's have provided me with a discipline for learning and it has widened my perspective on how to approach different cases differently. I feel as if although they were academic degrees they do have a practical advantage as at the end of the day, law is a profession which is based on constant learning and deep understanding of intent and words.

Just as one needs constant practice to run a marathon, similarly with the practice and study of law, the more you read, the wider your exposure to different ideas, different ways of thinking in other countries, the more will be your stamina and grasp of your profession.

Before you’d started practicing in India, you worked with Clyde & Co. for 2 years in Dubai. How different was working abroad as compared to working in India?

Not very different to be honest. As a lawyer you are always expected to be on the job and help people. That’s what lawyers do all over the world.

Yes, working style and modalities of an office may differ but that’s as far as the differences go.

The end result is all about giving good service to clients.

What is that one skill or trait a law student must have while starting their career in litigation? How important is finding a mentor in the initial years?

For a career in litigation, one should have an appetite for learning, to think on one’s feet, a willingness to improvise as one goes along and above all, a belief in oneself that even through the hard times and the good times they shouldn’t let up or become complacent about their trajectory in the field of law.

It’s always a blessing if one can find a mentor who can show them the ropes of the field but it’s not a necessity as at the end of the day, everyone has a different growth path.

What would be that one law subject you found to be the most interesting?

I would have to say “Torts”. That was a subject which made me really think about various aspects of a case and since torts is Latin for “twisted”, it certainly gave me a roundabout way of understanding a subject!

I found it to be both insightful and interesting, which is what I feel learning should be.

You have actively been part of various webinars. Do you think with time these webinars are getting monotonous?

Monotony occurs when one is bombarded with the same content in the same manner repeatedly, but this is not the case with webinars.

Webinars are simply a mode of sharing knowledge and the art of conducting a webinar is one which requires a combination of an in-depth understanding of the subject matter and a willingness to connect with the audience.

I don’t believe there is a saturation point for knowledge. Webinars as a platform, I believe, is here to stay and students have a hunger to learn about various aspects of law.

A lot of students these days feel that there is a disparity between a graduate from a National Law University and a graduate from a non- National Law University. Thoughts?

In terms of the calibre and potential of a student, it is every man or woman to his/her own. There is no homogeneity of genius in national law schools or the non-national ones.

If one has the means to books and a mind which is eager to absorb, nothing else is required.

Students have to push themselves and constantly strive to achieve excellence in academics, extra-curricular or whatever interests them during their college years.

As far as the perceived difference in national and non-national law schools is concerned, it is merely a perception in some quarters of the industry and has to be backed by talent and hard work by the student.

I would suggest that the students be passionate about law and move towards actualising their selves rather than have a self-defeating attitude of constantly comparing themselves.

Do you feel that the COVID-19 pandemic has made law practitioners realise the need to shift towards digitalisation?

There is definitely a push for digitisation and as lawyers we must constantly evolve along with the technology of the day which makes our working lives easier and more efficient so that the process of thinking is not hampered by the mundane.

In this regard, COVID-19 has been both a boon and a bane to the world.

A shift to virtual conferences, complete e-filing and mobile phone applications which consolidate and apprise practitioners as to the routine legal leg work, which earlier was taxing upon lawyers, is a welcome step in the right direction.

I look forward to better innovations in the field.

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