Student Achievers

Ekagra Jain, Associate, Wadia Ghandy & Co. on mooting, academics, and bagging a job

Ekagra Jain graduated from the Institute of Law, Nirma University in 2016. From being the Best Oralist in 4th NALSAR-NFCG Corporate Law Moot Competition, 2015, to being the Best Emerging Player while representing his University in sports, he made sure that he explored every opportunity which came his way. He is inclined toward Corporate Law and Competition Law and is currently working in the Banking & Finance Department at Wadia Ghandy & Co., Mumbai.

In this interview he talks to us about:

  • His experience at ILNU, both inside and outside the classroom and the decision to peruse law.
  • The importance of balancing academics and the co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.
  • Work experience at Wadia Ghandy & Co.
  • His views on building a successful career graph in the field of law.

How would you introduce yourself to all our readers?

To everybody reading this, I am Ekagra Jain, a 2016 Graduate from Institute of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad. I have been recruited by Wadia Ghandy & Co. through college placements and have been working in the Banking & Finance Department, Wadia Ghandy & Co., Mumbai. Born & brought up in Jabalpur, I am a passionate reader who is still ‘learning’ in life and believes in being the change you wish to see in the world.

Why did you choose law as your career, who and what were your sources of inspiration?

To say that I wanted to be a lawyer for a long before would surely be fallacious. However, I was an avid debater during my school days which inclined my interests towards journalism in the beginning. My family had always given me full liberty to choose the venture I sought to enter into and thereby gave me a chance to break the stereotype of following ‘engineering’ as a career option. I had always been fascinated with legal education and the scope that existed beyond the four walls of the court room. However, with enhanced research and reading, taking into account career growth, I decided near to the end of the 12th standard that I wanted to be a lawyer. The  source of my inspiration is primarily my grandfather, who studied at BHU and was a Public Prosecutor for 11 years. In addition, my family trusted in me and what I wanted to do and the results have not disappointed them since. To the contrary, what scared me the most before entering law was the volumes of books that a lawyer is required to refer to. However, with the passage of time and dedication, to say the least, I have acclimatized myself to this profession and my inclination towards law has only escalated since then.

How was your law school journey like- could you share your experiences with us? What were your favorite subjects and your areas of specialization?

To say that my experience at Nirma University has been fabulous would be an understatement. Summing up a period of 5 years within 10 lines is an arduous task. Nirma gave me the perfect platform to groom myself personally and professionally. For me, when you barge into the entrance of a law school, you should keep your arms wide open towards actively participating in all activities that happen in a law school because that in turn lets you find what your interest lies in and also lets you adapt to itchy and uncomfortable situations. From focusing on academics, the submission of assignments, writing research papers, participating in moots, attending classes on a regular basis, to playing football representing the University, I made sure I didn’t have any regrets and enjoyed myself during the voyage of ‘learning’.  I am very thankful that I did law as it has made me think outside the box, meet some charismatic personalities who have helped me down the line and helped me improve as an individual. During my whole law course, I showed dedication towards all fields and made sure I did not overburden myself and left time for leisure with friends as well.

My Area of Specialization is Corporate Law Honors and I had been inclined towards Corporate Law & Competition Law therefore, I gave the Company Secretary Exam a shot and also the NALSAR Moot on Corporate Law. Additionally, I guided moot teams for their preparation primarily on corporate related Laws. I also have an interest towards International Laws namely Public International Law and International Trade Law to name a few.

You being one of the all-rounders of our college, kindly share with us your academic as well as extra-curricular experiences that have helped build your personality? What were your biggest achievements in and outside law school?

As they say, the more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in war. For me, my basic approach had always been to ensure Balance and train myself rigorously within all fields. Academically, I have always maintained above average pointers with my CGPA for the 5 years at around 8.7. I have also cleared the Executive Level of Company Secretary and will be attempting the Professional level soon. I have also obtained a Cyber Law Diploma Certificate from GLC and Asian School of Cyber Laws with a view to expand my knowledge.

With respect to Internships, I made sure I interned at all platforms and kept a planned approach towards it. I maintained a steady start originating from NGOs to Trial Courts to High Courts. I also interned under the Assistant Solicitor General of India. Moving on to Supreme Court, I interned under Mr. Shanti Bhushan, Former Union Law Minister and Senior Advocate which gave me a glimpse on the Supreme Court functioning and the clash of all high-rated arguments which flow. I have also interned in S & R Associates, Bharucha & Partners, Link Legal India Law Services, to name a few law firms. Owing to my interest as highlighted earlier towards International Law, I also interned at International Trade Law Consultants, New Delhi where I was offered a position in the long run.

With respect to Moot Courts, I have been adjudged as the ‘Best Oralist’ for the 4th NALSAR-NFCG Corporate Law Moot Competition, 2015. We also bagged the ‘Best Memorial’ and we were ‘Semi-Finalists’ for this moot. I have also represented my University at the Asia-Pacific Rounds of ELSA WTO Moot Court Competition in Philippines, Manila and International Maritime Moot organized by VIPS, Delhi. Additionally, I guided various teams representing the University at the National and International Level. I have also written various research papers and made paper presentations. I was also the Co-editor for Law Mantra for certain years and worked as a Research Associate with Grayscale Inc.

For all the time I managed in between all that I did above, I tried my best to utilize it towards Football and fun with friends. I was awarded the Best Emerging Player of the Tournament from the University in 2013 and was also the Vice-Captain of the Team representing Institute of Law. In addition, I played in Yuvardha and for S & R Associates as an Intern at the Football Cup, Mumbai. All these all round experiences and their management have helped me in building my personality in the long run.

Tell us about your approach towards the long term and the short term goals you had set during the academic period and how were you able to manage it?

A goal without a plan is just a wish. I planned certain things way back to avoid panicking when the time arrived. With respect to scoring well in academics, I didn’t keep it as my utmost priority. All I always focused on was realizing the subject, its importance and getting the interpretation of law at its true essence. Exams weren’t and shouldn’t be an Integral goal. At the end of the day, even if you are a 9.6 pointer and could not answer the difference between hypothecation and pledge through an example, you still didn’t learn the way you should have. So my short term goal was always to get things in mind with appropriate logic. P.S.: If you have understood a topic, the exam pointers are always on your side.

Apart from academics, my short term goals were mainly to balance all extra-curricular activities in a manner that does not deteriorate the level of education I wished to attain. During my 1st & 2nd year, I would attend classes, play scheduled football match at lunch, and give an exam, complete assignments, research for moot all in a day.  It is a tough task at the start but soon you get to acclimatize yourself doing all things some way or the other.

With respect to long term goals,  most of the students and I would include me within this ambit are often stuck up in the starting years figuring out what seeks to be the apt future and where should we be heading at the end of 5 years and that is normal. Though I could see certain glimpses of where I will be heading towards the end, I fell short of being firm on my decision. By my third year, I was certain towards heading to the corporate field where I also attempted the Company Secretary exam and cleared it easily. I worked on my CV and did internships at places I was inclined to. Additionally, I also read up various articles on Corporate laws to augment my knowledge with all the current debates.

Wadia Ghandy & Co, Mumbai was the first law firm arriving for recruitment in my Batch and had a three step procedure for recruitment. It started with a written submission followed by Skype Interview and Final Round Interview at Headquarters, Mumbai. I had my basics clear and worked hard for the Final Round Interview. Finally when the moment arrived, I made sure I was well prepared to seize the opportunity thereby.

To sum up, plan beforehand on how you are going to take off. After law college you ae left at the midst of a highway where you see roads going off in divergent directions. Additionally, I was at my toes with backup options if things didn’t work out as you expect them to. The goal should always be to maintain consistency, trusting yourself and improving yourself. Also, the trick is to understand what is expected out of you when you step out and to learn the nuances which may help sustain you in the long run.

How far do you see your university as being the contributor in preparing you for what you are right now? Does ‘specialization’ in any field of law, as provided by your college, help in the early stages of one’s career?

For all that I stand today, I am indebted to Nirma University for graduating me not just in law, but in life too. Being a Private Law University set up just in 2007 and directly competing with the National Law Universities, we have made a place in the top most law institutions. We have had some astonishing faculties who have helped us down the line when it mattered most. An Institution is normally represented by its students and the students have left no stone unturned in brightening the name. From acing BCI Moot 3 times in a row (& various other moots too) to having record breaking placements as a Private University, the Institution has provided immense support to the students to rise on their own feet within the legal arena. As a Student run initiative, the Institute also supports Judiciary coaching for students who seek to do so. (I attended this to brush up all my laws). Having said that, we are still a growing institution and despite the positives as highlighted above, we still fall short on certain matters and have a long way to go.

With respect to specializations, I did specialization in Corporate Law and this has helped me to flourish and intensify my knowledge in corporate law. It has facilitated me also to work at ease and has also catered to my clearance of CS Executive.

Tell our readers about the goals you have set for yourself for the upcoming years? What do you see yourself doing ten years from now?

As of now, my goal is to learn and improve myself by the practical exposure I get in the shortest time possible. Other than my occupation, I am more committed towards successful completion of Company Secretary – Professional level exam due in December. I am not really certain for 10 years down the line, but if things go as planned, I see myself giving another interview to Super Lawyer 10 years from now as Partner of one of the leading firms 😉

You are working with Wadia Ghandy & Co., one of the oldest law firms of India, tell us about your working experience? What is the real world like- are you facing difficulties carrying personal and professional life together now?

Currently working at Wadia Ghandy & Co., I’d say I have been working under a very experienced team where I have been learning the practical nuances of Law. Presently, I work in the Banking and Finance Department under Ms. Shabnam Kajiji, who has had years of experience in Banking and Finance Sector. My working hours normally begin from 10 in the morning and may stretch up to late at night, depending upon the work allotted and the reporting deadlines.

With respect to maintaining balance, I’d say we are all aware of the fact that in order to achieve something in life you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done which includes sacrificing personal life at times. Straight roads do not make skillful drivers. Working in a law firm is a challenging task and that’s what lets you grow and overcome them. Despite the long working hours which I may succumb to “occasionally”, I do have the sufficient breaks which let me enjoy my life too. And as they say, If you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Keeping the broad ideologies intact, I make sure I keep learning during my work and improving myself day to day, in order to reach where I intend to.

Considering the nature and importance of this profession what according to you should be the focus of the law students at the Law Schools? What are the important factors which students should keep in mind while building their potential career graphs?

Having seen and experienced the different facets of law, the focus of law students primarily should be towards seeing them grow. Experiencing and participating in different activities, indulging into healthy discussions and making sure that you are not only changing your CV to suit the firm needs, but changing yourself in a positive manner too is an integral factor which every law student should keep in mind. Additionally, what is of utmost importance is to realize the need to not only learn things by heart but to solve a complex situation by the practical application of law.

For building potential career graphs, there is no straight jacket formula to be followed upon by every law student. Every student has their own understanding, working patterns and their future goals. For people focused towards corporate, every law student shall develop his knowledge towards corporate laws, read up on corporate issues and should maintain a decent CV containing good Academic Credentials, Moot Certifications, Paper Publications, Internship Experiences to name a few, depending upon an individual’s interest and priorities.

Law school is an amazing time period where you have five years to read upon laws you have never done, participate in varied activities, get out of your comfort zone, work hard, trust yourself and chase your dreams. Dreams don’t work unless you do. In addition, every law student shall keep in mind the desire to chase the vision, not the money. The money will end up following if you have had the proper vision and worked on them accordingly.

In the end, what would be your 3 biggest pieces of advices for the students as well as fresh graduates who are all set to begin their professional lives soon?

My biggest advice for people who strive to set their foot into law firms or to the legal profession in general are the following. Firstly, don’t let the desire to learn end! Intelligence without ambition is like a bird without wings. Yes, you read that right. Many graduates often have that tendency to consider themselves at the epitome of success such that they inhibiting within their minds the practical knowledge that should come forth. For a lawyer, I’d say the road to learning is never ending. The farther you go, the better off you’ll be. Secondly, Think before you speak, read before you think. Recruiters have ‘experience’ and know how to analyze your knowledge within the ambit of law. For everybody applying for jobs, bluffing is not really an option. Make sure you have read upon the basics well and your answer should match what the recruiter seeks to ask and the rest shall be history.  Thirdly, Learn, Discover and Explore. Do not restrict yourself. There are various options emerging after you graduate. And as they say, do not blindly follow the Masses. Sometimes, the M is silent. Choose the one where you can deliver the best, carve a niche for yourself and prosper.

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