Advocate Anand Mishra is an Advocate on Record at Supreme Court of India. He is a member of Supreme Court Bar Association, Supreme Court Advocate on Record Association, Advocate on Roles of Bar Council of Delhi. He deals with Criminal, Civil and Corporate Litigations, Consultancy, Alternate Dispute Resolution and other auditing issues. He is also the proprietor of Devdutt consults.
In this Interview he discusses about:
- His experience in the field of Litigation
- strategies on clearing the AOR Examination
- Impact of COVID-19 on the Legal System
You have a vast experience in the field of litigation, how would you describe your journey as a lawyer?
ANS: I did my LLB from, Campus Law Centre Delhi University and passed out in the year 2006. If I look at the past, the journey was clear to me from the first year of my LLB because I decided to move into litigation because that was the only option in the legal field which interested me and I wanted to pursue it. When I completed my LLB I joined a chamber to allow myself a vast experience in the District Court, High Courts, Tribunals and Supreme Court. In 2009 I decided to establish my own practice and so far, the journey has been a smooth one. As per me, law is a noble profession that gives space to every budding professional. I had initially thought of law to be a marathon where each person can take his sweet time and learn slowly, but once I established my practice, I realized it was a rat race to succeed. But such a race helps us compete with other sprinters/lawyers and enjoy the wonderful journey that supports such sprints in life.
As you are an advocate on record and many students aim to clear the examination of advocate on record, how difficult it is to clear the exam?
ANS: Firstly, I would like to state that no exam can be termed difficult or easy as according to me every exam is envisioned to discover certain patterns in an individual. The Advocate on Record exam, which is conducted by the Supreme court also examines this quality in prospective lawyers who will argue before the honourable court in the future. It aims to understand the competency of the people who have/will file cases in the future in the highest court authority of the country. Some of the main ingredients you need to learn to ace the exam is the Supreme Court rules, drafting and basic procedure of the court. I believe that 60-65 per cent of the preparation happens when you are in court and try to understand the nuances of the field. This may lead to several court attendances and a master course on drafting in your chamber. You must also develop a habit of reading about the duty and powers of the constitutional courts in India. If you understand what the examiner is looking for, you can ace the exam without any hurdles.
Does being an Advocate on Record impact your career in any way?
ANS: As far as creating an impact is concerned, I believe becoming an AOR let you argue in front of the highest court authority in the country. But more than that, as a lawyer you become responsible for filing your own Vakalatnama and can also appear in front of the Apex court without relying on some other AOR. This entail gives you the advantage of becoming part of the justice system and playing a key role in it. One of the biggest advantages is that, you can file cases in your name and I believe that justifies your career as a lawyer when the judge reads a draft and listens to arguments prepared solely by you.
What has been the most memorable case that you have handled so far?
ANS: I think that’s a great question to ask, but I believe any case you fight as a lawyer is memorable. In fact, I must recount an incident with my senior in the chamber I was working in, where one day he handed me a case and though I was reluctant to take it, fearing a loss he explained to me that law is not about winning or losing, as lawyers we are friends of the court who explain the procedure and law to judges for them to make a decision. What he tried to tell me was that as a lawyer it is our duty to assist the court in the best possible manner and not merely think about winning and losing.
Coming back to your question, when I started the independent practice, I handled a matter which involved section 138 of the Digital Instrumental Act before the District court. This case remains memorable for me, as it was one of the first cases I got as an Independent Advocate. Another memorable case I recall is that of Satvinder Singh which I argued in the honourable Supreme court. He was a ‘Jawan’ (defence force personal) who developed schizophrenia in the border area and was discharged from service. The tribunal and High court did not interfere with the decision of the Armed forces but in the Supreme court, it was held that the officer was entitled to a disability pension because the circumstances were caused due to aggravated problems in the border area which is one of the reasons to grant such pension. Another matter was that of a young man who passed away in an accident and the High court applied multiplier on the parents considering their age. The matter went before the apex court which held that, the age of deceased must be looked into when applying multipliers.
These are some of the memorable cases that come to mind now, but as I said before every case is memorable for me because in some or the other way in every case, I assisted the court to grant justice in the best possible manner.
Students of the law school are quite focused towards achieving good grades/results in their college life? Do you believe that good grades are important in the real world?
ANS: I think the first thing that is important to understand here is that, knowledge of law is extremely vital when you complete your education and skills are something that you will develop over the years. But, more importantly, if you are tasked with assisting the court you must possess the requisite knowledge to do so. To my young colleagues on this call, when you climb a mountain you only focus on taking the next step than eyeing directly for the peak. So, my young colleagues, you should finalise your steps in advance which makes the journey easier. For example, you should decide on what path you would like to pursue your legal journey after college, whether litigation or any other field must be your choice. But having said all of that never be let down if you don’t do well in your examination or anything else, but try hard to gain get good grades because grades are an indication of your ability to imbibe and understand what the law is.
In the wake of COVID-19, Courts have started functioning virtually, rather than traditionally. So, is this new concept of virtual Court a better alternative to the traditional Court?
ANS: Firstly, let us be clear, that we cannot compare both these courts. We must respect our institution for coming up with a virtual mode of learning so quickly in the times of the pandemic. I believe such pandemics don’t weaken the system, but expose existing weaknesses. But something that separates us from other systems, is our ability to adapt to a situation. We as lawyers have quickly adapted to a new mode of justice. I think it’s a good achievement, where our profession has become more technologically friendly and we are able to do many things since the geographical limitation has been removed. One of the most pertinent examples would be conducting this interview. I never thought, I would be using zoom for my interviews or meetings but the pandemic had led to the elimination of geographical boundaries and has given us an option of interacting on a virtual platform.
There are many graduates who passed out this year and there are many people who are quite young in the]is profession, so how far do you think COVID-19 has impacted the profession of young advocates?
ANS: To some extent, because our traditional mode of working got derailed, chambers were sealed for a certain period of time, so it has impacted young and even old lawyers in this field. I believe that in these circumstances if physical travelling is restricted you must focus on working through a virtual platform because such moments represent a challenge in life and we must be able to live up to such challenges and change ourselves to adapt to the way things will work in a COVID world from here on.
What are the things that a litigator should remember in his initial days of practice?
ANS: As a litigating lawyer I believe there are three duties which are extremely important to perform as any lawyer:
- First and foremost a lawyer is the officer of the court and hence must focus on achieving justice and not merely taking up high profile cases and earning money.
- A litigating lawyer also must be responsible for his fraternity and his bar.
- The third and most important duty is to serve the client.
As a lawyer you are the foremost officer in the Court, your main duty is towards the Court but yes, you have a duty towards a client to represent his case, you have to maintain certain hierarchies and one thing, that law as a profession gives opportunity to every talent. I can say so, because I am myself a 1st generation lawyer and I’m not from Delhi. It will give opportunity to everyone in case you remain fair to this noble profession and you have the capacity to live like a hermit and work like a horse then I can say that sky is the limit.
Do participation in extracurricular activities like moots, seminars, paper presentations, etc, add something to the career or do they have any significant impact in the long run on someone’s career or does it leave certain kind of impression on the recruiters?
ANS: Look there are three things, first is knowledge, second is talent and third is attitude. I believe that knowledge is something you can gain from anywhere be it extracurriculars or studies. But I believe the other two qualities of talent and attitude only comes from such activities. Participating in activities like moot courts makes you a better and more confident orator and makes you realize certain inherent qualities of yours which you may not have known. I can’t answer the question as to whether such participation will impress the recruiter, because each individual has his own way of looking at potential employees. But one thing I can surely say which is that such activities will surely lead to a positive attitude in the future.
On a concluding note what will be your message to the budding lawyers?
ANS: My message will be that you are not joining an ordinary profession, you are joining a noble profession, a profession which has tradition and you have to carry forward this tradition. The soul aim should neither be to mint money and nor to gain fame, these are all by-products of hard work. You need to commit yourself towards the tradition of the bar, this is your primary duty and then all things will form. That’s my only suggestion for them.
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