In this interview, Bhavya Bhatt, a Business Development Consultant, freelance writer, blogger at “Legally Herself”, answers questions by describing her own path to online freelance writing and mental health advocacy.
This interview has been published by Sonali Parashar. The Interview was taken by The SuperLawyer Team.
What is your current role? How exciting is it for you? How do you describe your legal career?
My current role is that of a freelancer, where I am freelancing with lawyers, law firms, and other non-law companies/start-ups. My work at this point revolves around content creation, brand building, strategy, and business development. I, in all honesty, did not anticipate indulging in all of this when I passed out of law school.
This role is daunting with it being exciting at the same time. The reason I say this is because freelancing comes with its pros and cons, that one does not know unless they experience it first-hand. It gets challenging and I’d have to say I am still a work-in-progress because I learn through my mistakes whether it’s with client on-boarding, drafting my agreements, strategizing Workplan, or reviewing my work. The exciting part of all of this is that I get paid for my efforts without being subjected to constant stress and anxiety. I work when I feel like it, I get to do my solo trips while I work. I love the flexibility that my role provides me with.
Coming to my legal career, I wanted to be a Cyber Lawyer, but the Pandemic opened new doors for me and there’s no looking back now. However, I would still like to believe that I am in the game as much as my counterparts are. The work that I do is very different from what is expected out of a law graduate, but that’s why I like it. I work alongside lawyers and law firms, network with a lot of legal professionals, hence I am still in touch with the legal side. Since my work also involves legal content writing, I update myself quite often with the amendments, laws, case laws, or just legal news in general. With the dynamic role that I have gotten myself into, a legal career is a part of who I am, and there’s more to it.
Why did you choose law as your career? How has law benefitted you in shaping your path? If not the legal profession, what would be your go-to career plan?
I was 14 years old when I decided I would do anything and everything to not study Math in the future (I was that petrified of it). What gave the 14-year-old a purpose was an incident when I stumbled upon a book on Torts and other law-related subjects at my friend’s house. It was her sister’s. I gave it a read, and oh boy! My mind was blown by the language I read because I hardly understood anything.
It was only after reading a few pages of these law books that I started concentrating on Social Sciences in school. I wanted to be in a position to understand those books I had just read. What confirmed my decision was when I got to know I could be very far away from Math if I became a Lawyer! I guess that was all the inspiration I needed to choose law as my career.
Today, I am very distant from the traditional legal practice that law graduates usually indulge in and it’s the chances that I took on myself that have helped me pave my path. However, all the credits for whom I have become today, go to choosing law as a career. Joining a law school has given me that confidence, I know I wouldn’t have gotten if I were somewhere else. Five years in law school is such a long time, that you do end up contemplating who you are, and where you want to go. Studying law has made me more intellectual, practical, and rational, and it’s these qualities that have helped build me as a person.
Coming to the last part of this question, there’s no specific answer I can give to this. My career plan right from when I knew the meaning of ‘Career’ was to study Law and become a Lawyer. Now that I am it, I am also into Business Development (Outreach), Content strategizing, Writing and I did give recruitment a try as well. So, if not the legal profession, I’d be a writer, or a Business Development Professional (which I anyway am, so…), or maybe an Artist.
How hard is it to branch out from your chosen profession? Do you think being labelled under one profession is burdening?
It is hard to branch out from the profession that I had initially chosen. You become a subject of mockery, discussion because who goes to a law school for five years only to quit two good jobs and pursue professions that are nowhere close to law? It also becomes a challenge because your whole world is new out there, with new people, different work cultures, and most importantly, no one to guide you. But in all honesty, I like it.
I get to work with people from multiple professions, different locations. My work doesn’t get monotonous because my clients are just not from Law, but also the Medical, IT, Architecture, Real estate, Economics, Life Sciences, Fashion, Food industries. Every project of mine is so different, that I don’t feel bad about not pursuing a legal job out therLabellingeling under one profession becomes burdening if you deem your job as a burden. Like, I know a lot of my friends out there, who are pretty happy with their litigation practice, corporate law jobs. As for me, I know I would have treated my legal job as a burden because that’s not only where I see myself. I like the dynamicity of my profile, so yeah! The burden is when and if you think it is.
You were also a “technical content writer”. Was that challenging for you being a law student?
I did have a few clients for whom I indulged in technical content writing. Their requirements were very different from what I was initially doing because I started with only legal content writing. As a Law student, the maximum technicality I could get into was to analyze case laws, the rationale of the judgments! That transition was a learning period I’d say. I soon started with creating how-to manuals, project plans then took to a few tech-related projects where I had to very deeply study IT-related concepts. Technical content writing was not challenging. What was challenging for me was studying technical concepts and easing it out through my writing for my clients and also studying law since it was my main hustle back then.
How important is mental health for an individual? How did you venture into Mental Health Advocacy? Would you like to highlight a few dos and don’ts to be followed in professional life?
Mental Health is very important for everyone. It’s a no-brainer! One can still manage to work with an injury in the hand or walk despite being sick, but when you’re mentally unwell, even waking up can seem the biggest challenge. I did not venture a lot into mental health advocacy until I was diagnosed with Clinical Depression. The way people were around me, the way I was made to feel about my anxiety and panic attacks was how I understood the importance of mental health and the need for awareness around this. That’s how I started the Mental Health Society in my law school, and actively started taking care of my mental health, alongside helping others in understanding its importance.
We are all human beings after all. We have wear and tear too, but how often do we look within ourselves and realize we need to take a break or stop for a bit? I realized this in my law school itself and knew that I had to keep my grounds clear on my priorities. The legal profession is very demanding in terms of our time and efforts, so we need to know how much our plates can accommodate.
One could easily work for over 16 hours a day and still not have a breakdown, while others wouldn’t go beyond 8 hours. The dos and Don’ts that I list here are personal, because we all have different thresholds to stress and anxiety, and have different priorities. What one can do is,
- Organize and schedule work every day on a whiteboard, to avoid last-minute anxieties.
- Be vocal about one’s work ethic because your time and efforts are equally important like that of others’.
- Have a break every once and then. This is a monumental move for anyone to maintain sanity. I understand all do not have the luxury of taking a break, but it was never about luxury. It is a basic necessity, like water, oxygen, money, shelter, and clothes!
- Pick up a hobby. It helps in breaking the monotony of a taxing job, and that’s why I still pick up my Ukulele once in a while or paint or travel or explore cafes.
What one shouldn’t do is,
- Take up tasks in bulk and later procrastinate about their completion.
- Shy away from opening on what could work better, or pitching a strategy that could be different from what was asked. Works well on mental health because you’re relieved you’ve spoken your mind.
- Working even when down with a sickness or a headache. Sick leaves exist for a reason, use them.
- Agree with a senior when you’re certain they’re wrong. Mental Health can go downhill because you suppress those emotions. But there’s nothing to be afraid of, in a real sense. There’s a way and a time to talk. Do it!
I resorted to all this even when I was working full time in my two jobs, and now as a freelancer. A few of you might think I am very low on experiences and life for having listed these do’s and don’ts. But you don’t need to reach a certain age or have a certain number of experiences to start taking care of your mental health. It is now or never!
Can you walk us through your blog, “Legally Herself”? What is the main idea behind it?
I started “Legally Herself” because a lot of publishing houses, blogs (legal and non-legal) felt my writing was not meant for them or their audience. One blog said how my writing came out a bit too strong for their audience to handle.
I wanted to publish my poems, my thoughts, also a research article of mine. I needed a platform, something I could call my own. I was tired of waiting for someone to realize my worth, so it was just out of the blue, I bought this domain name and created my website.
The main idea behind “Legally herself” is for no one else to tell me how I should be or what I should write. Why give someone so much power? I was well within the legal ambit to publish my works, hence the name. I try to stay regular with posting my poems, thoughts, travel stories so there’s some fun content out there. “Legally Herself” is a virtual replica of who I am, outside of the professional world!
How would you describe your career up till now? Where can we expect you in the upcoming years?
My career up till now is a ferry wheel, which hasn’t even taken a full round yet! Call me confused or non-serious for having my hands in multiple professions, but this is where I am, constantly learning, failing, and trying to get up. I don’t know where you can expect to see me in the upcoming years, because I am unaware of it too! But I can assure you, it’s going to be big!
How does proficiency in language help in writing? Would you like to give takeaways on ‘freelance writing’ to our readers?
Practice is the key to proficiency in anything, not just writing. The more you practice, more the proficient you become. You revisit your older works and it becomes easier to spot errors and mistakes. It is after this you become aware of how to write better, and not commit the same mistakes again. It’s only about time you use your past experiences (good and bad) to write that amazing piece of content!
To the readers who think they want to try freelance writing, but are unable to because they don’t have the time, or do not know how to go about it, please do not think much. There are platforms like Fiverr and Upwork where you can start writing at the comfort of your home, and get paid for it. Then there’s LinkedIn, where you start by building your brand and once people have the faith in you and your work, they can get in touch with you for their projects. You can also apply for those content writing jobs on Angel.Co, Instahyre, LinkedIn if you feel strongly about your writing skills. Things do work out eventually!
If you’re someone who has no writing experience but wants to kickstart freelance content writing, then write every day, stay consistent and notice the clientele coming to you in a bit. Good things take time!
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