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The results of last year’s Supreme Court Advocate-on-Record Examination (AoR Exam 2018) were declared last month. 111 candidates passed the exam. Bar & Bench spoke to second rank holder Sneha Ravi Iyer about the exam.
Here are the excerpts from the interview.
Was this expected?
Not really. I am pleasantly surprised and very happy.
When did you enrol at the Bar? How were the initial years of practice?
I enrolled in 2012 and worked in Delhi for three months before making a shift to Bombay. I worked in Bombay for two years before I moved back to Delhi.
What prompted the shift from Bombay to Delhi?
Bombay did not pan out according to my expectations.
How did it go after you came back to Delhi?
I joined the chambers of Senior Counsel Guru Krishnakumar and worked with him for two and a half years.
How did you go about preparing for the AoR Exam?
The AoR exam has four papers. For each of the papers, a Senior Advocate is an examiner. I got a lot of help from my friends and colleagues who had given the exam earlier. They helped me out with study material and tips and boosted my confidence. Of course, my family also supported me throughout.
What is your take on demand by certain sections of the Bar to do away with the AoR system altogether?
I don’t think it should be done away with. Every court has a procedure of filing for ease of functioning and disposal of cases. For instance, the Bombay High Court’s original side rules lay down a very different filing process. Unless a lawyer is well versed with the same, there will be a lot of difficulties.
Some method is required for filing so that the concerned court can handle cases without hiccups.
As far as the Supreme Court AoR system is concerned, I believe it has been evolved keeping in mind the fact that lawyers and litigants from across the country come here to conduct their cases.
Thus, there should be some kind of accountability required when it comes to filing cases in the Supreme Court. Also, the merit of the lawyer should be a factor as it helps the Court avoid unnecessary confusion and delays. So, a common exam and residence in Delhi etc which are the conditions prescribed for being an AoR, are fair.
How helpful are the classes which are held before the exam?
They are extremely helpful. I would prod everyone to attend it because the person taking the class would be the examiner. She will mark out the contours of the syllabus. She will also tell us what they expect of us. Since it is a subjective exam, a lot depends on what the examiner expects.
Importantly, they also give some kind of focus areas. All of these become very important when giving the exam. The classes were of great help.
Any tips for those who are taking the AoR exam?
Yes. First is writing. In this age, we don’t write a lot. So, it is really important to practice writing.
Secondly, attend the lectures given by Senior Advocates.
Third, look at all the question papers of the last ten years. You will find the trend and the questions which have been repeated. Be sure that you cover those.
Fourth, it is not only about how much you study or how much knowledge you have. At the end of the day, it is about how you present what you know. Just like arguing a case, there is no point knowing the brief thoroughly if you are not able to convey it effectively to the Bench.
Last question, why law?
I was initially preparing for UPSC and aspired to be an IAS officer. But since I did not want to take a gap year, I signed up for law. During one of my internships in Bombay, I fell in love with law. I felt it was far more interesting to study and work as a lawyer rather than as a bureaucrat.
The field of law and litigation is extremely interesting. No day is similar to another day. One might start the day thinking “I will do A, B, C” but something else might suddenly crop up. You learn not only about law but also people and human relations.
It is one of the most fantastic fields to be in.
Being an independent practitioner is extremely difficult. But it is the everyday difficulty that makes it more and more interesting. There is always a new challenge demanding a new response. That makes this profession amazing. Despite all its pitfalls, I can’t think of any other profession that I would want to be in.