Interview: Divyam Agarwal (Advocate, Agarwal Law Chamber; B.A. LL.B. Symbiosis Law School, Noida)
Divyam Agarwal is an alumnus of Symbiosis Law School, Noida. He is an independent legal practitioner having offices in the National Capital Region and Dehradun. His core areas of practice include Civil and Corporate Litigation, Corporate and Start Up advisory and POSH Consultancy.
We managed to ask him following questions.
Tell our readers about yourself?
I am an independent legal practitioner having offices in the National Capital Region and Dehradun. I was called to the Bar in 2018. My core areas of practice include Civil and Corporate Litigation, Corporate and Start Up advisory and POSH Consultancy.
I am an alumnus of Symbiosis Law School, Noida and The Doon School, Dehradun. Apart from being a Law Graduate, I additionally hold a bachelor’s degree in Hindustani Music from the revered Bhatkhande Music Institute Deemed University, Lucknow.
How was your experience at Symbiosis?
Symbiosis played a vital role in my life. The concept of professionalism is introduced to you as early as in the first month of college, which is a fundamental in the legal industry. My passion for law unearthed in Symbiosis and I was provided with the proper forums to hone the theoretical aspect of law with practical experience. We were encouraged to pursue internships all around the year in our penultimate year and final year, therefore, I had the opportunity to intern in law chambers post lectures which helped in understanding the practical aspect of law. If I recall, by the end of my final year, I had done over 14 internships and had bagged 2 pre-placement offers.
Symbiosis provides the required autonomy to every student or “learner” (as we are addressed in college) to pursue their aspirations. I recall that I got the opportunity to form the Sports Committee for the college in my 2nd year. The Committee is a wholly student run body with the Director as the patron-in-chief.
Tell us about your law school life.
My law school life was a gifted journey. It gave me many close friends and excellent professors. It was an intellectually revitalizing period. There were sufficient opportunities for all-round development in college- from debating to photography, apart from academics. In my second year, I had the opportunity to participate in International and National Moot Court Competitions. I was also a part of the debating society and led the college Basketball team consecutively for 4 years.
Tell us about your experiences after law school as a professional.
I started my journey with an Advocate practising in Civil and Corporate litigation. I got the opportunity to contentiously appear in courts as soon as I got enrolled. That provided me with the boost and much needed confidence for making a career in litigation. I appeared in various judicial foras. Back in the office, I was deeply involved in drafting and preparing the matters listed for hearings before the appropriate forums.
Something that I learnt early in the profession was that building a good career in litigation requires understanding the courtcraft, the nitty-gritties involved in filing a brief before the registries of various forums was equally important to preparing a brief for the matter. Therefore, I used to spend my initial days in the profession, after my court hearings were over, either witnessing matters in courtrooms or assisting my office clerk in filing the briefs before the registries.
What are your views on career choices after law?
There are a lot of career choices that are available to a law student in recent times. I feel that one should not decide their career path in initial years of law school and should avail all the opportunities available till their final year. I believe that this method can help one decide as to which career path they are interested in pursuing. I have seen most of the students, including my batchmates, making up their minds towards a particular career path in the initial years of their law school and pursuing innumerable internships in that area but later on, they found it hard to sustain with that career path.
How is working with the chamber of Mr. Rahul Malhotra as an Associate?
I started off my career in this office after I graduated from law school. The office and the tutelage of Mr. Malhotra played an integral part in making me the lawyer that I am today. I was presented with various opportunities in the office including attending arbitration and court hearings in different states. It was a small office; therefore, the workload was tremendous. In 2019, I recall I was working on over 80 active matters for the office along with some matters of my own. Mr. Malhotra is a great mentor who allows you to learn from your mistakes and that helped me in building confidence. I was further allowed to work in a semi-independent manner where I was allowed to be engaged by my personal clients. I was fortunate enough to be engaged by a company for their matters within 6 months of practice and later, I entered into an arrangement with a Bombay based Law Firm for handling their matters in Delhi/NCR. This provided me with the required boost to kick off my private practice and none of it would be possible without the constant support and guidance from Mr. Malhotra.
How would you explain Litigation as a career to law students. What are the hardships one has to face?
Litigation is a beautiful career. It requires perseverance and devotion. Law students should not consider the initial years as a period of hardship but as a learning phase. While entering into a career of litigation, a lot of students face various issues like meagre pay and minute growth in chambers or law offices. Albeit these issues cannot be ignored but a law student should never forget the bigger goal they had while entering the profession. Everyone has some goal or the other and I feel that they should work towards it. I would advise all students planning to enter into litigation to join a Senior or law office (there are many!) who allow you to grow in the profession.
We often forget that like any other industry, legal industry also has an entrepreneurial aspect to it. This aspect was the biggest hurdle that was faced by me when I initially started my independent practice. There were moments when I did not know how to “sell myself” to a particular client or the fees I should charge. However, with time I realised that every lawyer has a different approach towards it, and one should approach the method that best suits their practice module. However, I feel that law schools should inculcate this area in their course structure for all streams of law.
Parting advice for the law aspirants?
· Perseverance is the key.
· Set a long-term goal strive to achieve it.
· Internships matter (don’t slack while pursuing them!)
· Enjoy life in college.