Nandita Rao
Nandita Rao

"In Court, be a lawyer first and an activist, second", Advocate Nandita Rao in Roots Resource virtual discussion

During the discussion, Rao advised budding lawyers inclined towards activism to only focus on being a competent lawyer in the initial years.

Rintu Mariam Biju

Roots resource in collaboration with the Nyaya Forum for Courtroom lawyering on Saturday organized a discussion on "Insights on the profession" with Advocate Nandita Rao, who serves as Additional Standing Counsel for the Delhi Government.

The virtual discussion was live-streamed on Youtube.

During the discussion, Advocate Rao spoke on various topics including the reasons that prompted her to take up law, her experience working for the Delhi Government, reasons for the pendency of cases against women and children, among others.

Speaking on the reasons that pushed her to pursue law, Rao said that she had always wanted to be a lawyer even though she had no lawyers in her family. Rao recalled that it was her parents who played a critical role to influence her decision to be an advocate.

"My parents were activists and great believers of the Constitution of India. ... That's what got me interested in the field of law", she said.

Rao recounted that after she had completed her LLB course, she was "burning to go to court" and practice. After a good 7 years practising, she went on to do her masters in law.

Highlighting the main differences between doing private work and Government work, Rao said that while the former was much more difficult, the latter came with a higher sense of responsibility.

Rao acknowledged that in many states, Government counsels may be getting very "little remuneration" when compared to the work being done. Owing to this reason, many may not be in a position to hire juniors. This, subsequently, adversely affects the quality of their work, stated Rao.

Nonetheless, she said,

"Government work is to prove your integrity and hard work. It is a great opportunity and will immensely you in your career."

With this, Rao also stressed on the importance of providing Government counsels with better facilities such as their own offices, laptops, subscription to legal websites etc.

Coming to the topic of Labour Law and Family Law, Rao was quick to opine that the statutes are quite obsolete in the present times as well as vague in its sections. Talking particularly about Labour law, she observed that there are a plethora of statutes in place dealing with different labour law issues. In order to better the existing situation, Rao suggested,

"Number of legislations must be reduced and the Laws must be made more comprehensive. High Courts should have original jurisdiction with regard to these matters (matrimonial, labours matters, etc.) and lesser appeals."

Adding on, Rao stated that Special Courts dealing with the aforesaid matters are not very "special". Due to the lesser number of Judges, the same Judges appeared in a set of Courts. As a result, their rosters are very heavy, she pointed out.

Bearing these issues in mind, Rao asserted that the number of Judges must be increased. "You have to strengthen the Judicial system as a whole", said Rao.

She also advised budding lawyers inclined towards activism to only focus on being a competent lawyer in the initial years.

"In the first three years, try to be a good lawyer and not an 'activist' lawyer."
Advocate Nandita Rao

During the budding stage of a career in legal practise, it is essential to to strengthen one's base by learning the laws and well as the procedures. Filing a Writ Petition in your name in the High Court should not be your priority, advised Rao.

"Though such activities may gain you publicity, you may, in turn, be harming your client by not knowing the law properly", said Rao.

Recalling her own experience when she started off, Rao said that, during the first three years of her career, she only focused on attending the trial Court, learning civil laws and its procedural aspects. When advocates on focus on the quality of their work, even Judges will take them seriously, Rao stated.

"In Court, be a lawyer first and an activist, second", concluded Rao.

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