You grew up and studied law in Kolkata - tell me something about the city. How it is different to other major cities?
Kolkata is a simple city, where things are a bit haphazard, just like any other unplanned Indian city. However, 300 years of history has made Kolkata a very rich experience for anyone who ever tried to discover the city. For instance, every five minutes of brisk walk in any old Kolkata neighbourhood will bring you in proximity of a great eatery with some unique items on their menu - although emphasis will be on the taste and not on the presentation of the food or ambience of the eatery. That captures the character of Kolkata - rich in substance, weak in presentation. Most of the times the substance is so good, the presentation becomes irrelevant! Kolkata also has a great cultural heritage, and people in Kolkata take pursuit of fine arts and literature very seriously.
I often want to go back to Kolkata for its simplicity and richness of life. Maybe not rich in terms of money, but certainly rich in human experiences.
The good and bad of NUJS?
High point: a culture of freedom amongst students, mostly encouraged by the administration
Low point: The weak gets oppressed and often left behind. Money makes up for lack of talent in social circles. Extreme materialism, although I see that pretty much everywhere I go.
Should CLAT be conducted by an autonomous body?
Yes, absolutely. It is growing big, and to leave it to amateurs is not helping. There should be experts who handle an entrance examination of such importance and growing stature. There is a huge logistical and information barrier that prevents a large number of people from taking CLAT and opting for the best law schools in the country. The extremely high fee structure of law schools also makes it out of reach for a lot of students. The situation is quite disheartening. To profit more from CLAT the universities have been increasing the price of forms irrationally - which is causing the number of people who take CLAT to decline in fact. These issues needs to be systematically addressed, not on an ad-hoc basis by a university which is given the responsibility to hold CLAT for a particular year on a rotation basis, but through an administrative body that has the goodwill, mandate and resources to make things different.
Your way of setting question paper of CLAT...
Test for reasoning ability, comprehension skills, language skills, general knowledge, and ability to handle pressure. I will set a tough paper for CLAT, which will also be lengthy - this kind of a paper really separates the best from the rest. An easy paper is not good for news people who spent time preparing well.
What are the good qualities that a good teacher/mentor for CLAT Prep should possess?
Every teacher has their own style - but good communication skills and empathy with students is really important. A teacher needs to know what the student is thinking to know how to help him or her - it takes tremendous perceptive abilities to be a good teacher.
A good teacher teaching CLAT should know how to top that exam if he took it himself. I know many teachers who will fail this test, but still, for me that shows one's understanding of the exam and what it takes to do well.
Tips to aspirants for CLAT 2012 prep?
CLAT is just one piece in a really big game. Play it accordingly. Figure out your exact strengths and weaknesses, study past years papers for this. If you can pinpoint your weaknesses, you'll also know how to sort them out.
How can one prepare well for Legal reasoning?
Legal reasoning is the easiest section in CLAT. You can score full marks in it very easily - without spending too much time on the section. Three things to keep in mind for CLAT 2012
1. Expect the paper to be lengthy
2. You need to score well in Legal Reasoning if you want a good law school - simply because most others who are trained well will core well too.
3. Time needs to be kept in check - too many people will lose out here, spend disproportionate time on two or three difficult question and sabotage their own paper. Don't be one of them.
There are two things you need to learn to do well in CLAT - one is the basic skill of applying principles to facts to get to the right option, and the second is time management. One also needs to have a strategy for badly drafted questions, where there are multiple correct answers, or no option which is completely correct, or principles are inadequate. These are the questions that lead to maximum wastage of time.
Most importantly, find all the past years papers - at least 30 of them, including NLS, NALSAR, CLAT, NLUD, NLUO. Read the legal reasoning sections. Solve them. List out the questions which you took too much time to solve and the ones you got wrong (you'll need an answer key or have to consult a teacher/ friend). This works wonderfully if you have a partner. Match your answers with the partner and you'll debate on the answers and you'll learn faster than ever that way - provided your partner is reasonably good. If you can do this properly, you'd be familiar with almost all possible types of questions, and a lot of principles. You'll see that questions, if not exactly, then in substance are often repeated.
Why did you choose Trilegal to work with?
I had an option to join a few of the top law firms. But Trilegal was a start-up law firm until recently, and has experienced massive growth. It was tempting to be part of the growth story. Also, Trilegal takes very good care of its lawyers, and it is a professional place, unlike some proprietary law firms. They have tried to adopt the best practices for training, knowledge development and workplace management. I was biased towards this young and spirited firm as opposed to the behemoths from the beginning.
You do a lot of work under time constraint. Do you find time for any hobbies? Any tips on time management?
The only way to multi-task is not to multi-task. Our brains can handle only one thing at a time - so I never try to do many things at the same time - I try to do one thing with undivided attention at a time. That means if I need half an hour to do something, for that half an hour I shall do that only and systematically cut out all other tasks I may have. I have seen that this really helps to get a lot of work done. Also, I have a 'can do this' belief -so I always take up a lot of work, something that I see others always refuse to do - it becomes challenging, but then rising up to the challenge is a lot of fun. It helps me to discover new abilities, gives more confidence.
How do you define yourself?
Too early to define - still searching for my real identity! Right now I want to be the person who made law more accessible and affordable in India through technology and education.
Where do you see yourself 20 years down the line?
Dead. I presume I will not live beyond 40, so all that I want to achieve has to be done before that. If I'd be still alive, I'd be vacationing perpetually, learning fine arts.
Who all have attributed to your success?
Many, many people - my parents, mentors who have introduced me to new things, friends, others students in NUJS, colleagues at Trilegal - whatever little success I had so far was because people believed in what I am trying to do and helped out at crucial moments.
When will you get married?
If things go according to plan, never.
You can follow the part one of this interview to know more
Image Courtesy: Ramanuj Mukherjee