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Why did you choose law as a career?
At the age of 11, I came across an American show about lawyers called “The Practice”, and soon I was hooked. I became fascinated with the technical rules of evidence that the show often grappled with and, after a year or so of watching it, words like “hearsay”, “leading” and “argumentative” became a part of my daily vocabulary. The best part was that I was able to anticipate the grounds on which the lawyers on the show would object to a particular question put to or answered by a witness. Ever since then all I’ve ever wanted to be is a lawyer.
Tell us about Sudhir Law Review (SLR).
SLR is an online portal (www.sudhirlawreview.com) comprising of lectures and notes covering key subjects on the law school syllabus. Students can choose from course packs comprising of notes only or notes and lectures. It was founded in June 2015 with the stated aim of revolutionizing legal education and slowly but surely we have taken some baby steps in that direction. The response so far has been overwhelming – in just three short months the site has over 500 members.
What problems have you faced with SLR’s inception?
Believe it or not, it has really been smooth sailing so far. Of course it hasn’t been easy. There is nothing like SLR in the legal education scene and this means that there isn’t really a model that I can emulate. I have devised a business plan and I try my best not to deviate from it. That being said, a lot of it is trial and error.
Where do you see yourself and SLR in 5-10 years?
While predicting the future is a risky business, it is my belief that SLR will be competing with established publishing houses like Eastern Book Company and their flagship authors like Avatar Singh. In 5-10 years, it is my hope that the practice of buying bulky textbooks and combing through them for information that is relevant for the purposes of the exam will be on the wane. At the end of the day, students are consumers. Consumers in 21st century India are demanding and convenience is at the top of their wish list. What SLR offers them is quality lectures and concise notes, at a place and time of their choosing, at very affordable prices.
How was the overall experience of studying abroad? How different was it from the Indian education scenario and how did you benefit from it?
It was fantastic, truly eye-opening. Whatever I am today is down to my six years in the United Kingdom. In India we have a Constitution that tells us we are free. But in the U.K. you actually get to experience what it means to be free and live life on your terms. More than the formal education, which was nothing short of excellent, I learnt a lot of life lessons. It saddens me that so many bright young Indian law students don’t get exposed to a more holistic educational experience.
Indian students always complain that professors are not “approachable”, but when they encounter a professor who is, they cannot make the best of it as their archaic notions of how professors should behave get in the way. In Indian law schools, students are obsessed with getting a job. In the U.K., the Universities make it clear that getting a job is your problem- their role is to give you an education and as a result there is no concept of “placements”.
U.K. Universities and their law departments strive to create an environment that is conducive to learning and this is the something that is distinctly lacking in India’s law schools. Conversely, Indian students are in a perpetual rat race for internships and jobs. So, if you can escape to the U.K., even if it is just for a semester or an LLM, do it!
What advice would you like to give students regarding their career options?
I think the problem with most law students is that they have fixed notions of “success”. They believe that you should either be a corporate lawyer or a litigator to be successful in the legal world. This blinkered approach is one of the prime reasons why the brightest legal minds in the country are not attracted to academia. Even I was blinded by this approach and was obsessed with being a litigating lawyer.
Truth be told, I was an academic for about 18 months, more out of compulsion than choice, and I didn’t really enjoy it. I loved teaching but what I hated was the pressure to write long-winded research papers, an occupational hazard of being an academic. I truly believe that if you can’t convey what you have to say in 1000-1500 words, 10,000 words isn’t going to do the trick.
So I decided to start SLR and become an academic entrepreneur. I have designed courses on academic subjects (Constitutional law), practical subjects that are concerned with litigation (CPC and CrPC) and corporate subjects (Taxation). You could say that through SLR I have managed to combine the litigation, corporate law and academic world. So, my advice to students is be flexible and have an open-mind when fashioning a career.
Please tell us about the hardships you had to face to reach where you are today.
I really dislike the word “hardships”, especially in a country like India where most people are struggling to make ends meet. I have been extremely lucky. I have had the opportunity to study abroad and have seen the world. In fact, SLR would have been a pipe-dream were not for the backing of my extremely supportive family. I owe everything I am to my maternal grandfather in particular, who raised me.
Anything else you would like to tell us.
Yes. Go to www.sudhirlawreview.com now!