I was in 6th class when I declared I wanted to be a lawyer.
I didn’t even know what a lawyer was at that point in time. It was merely the black gown judges in Bollywood movies that made me want to become one.
So, when some elder girls in my neighborhood asked me, “Badi hoke kya banegi (What do you want to become when you grow up?)”, I told them, “Jo movies me ‘Order! Order!’ karte hai wo banungi (The one who says ‘Order! Order!’ in legal dramas”).
One girl laughed at my naivety and told me that to become ‘that person’(judge) in the movies I have to become a lawyer first.
The word ‘lawyer’ stuck with me until 10th class, without knowing what it is. I repeated that word when someone asked me about my future. When my friends were taking career counseling in school, I asked my father to introduce me to a few lawyers to who I could speak about what this career entailed so that I could make an informed decision.
My career decision to become a lawyer was happily embraced by my parents and relatives, luckily. In Asian cultures, making a career in law, medicine or engineering is rarely resisted. It is a career in arts, music and sports that is frowned upon.
My mother made me leave sports after 9th class. Until then I was representing my school at the state level for shotput and javelin throw. I had qualified twice for state-level competitions and my coach had plans to send me for a national level the next year.
My school’s plan of making their name at the national level went down the drain after my mother put her foot down and I was given strict instructions to focus on studies and clear CLAT after 12th class to pursue my career in law.
My father was a businessman and all the lawyer friends he introduced me to either were litigating in Bombay High Court or were working in law firms in Mumbai. When fellow businessmen of my father learned about my aspirations to study law, I was told stories of how gracefully lawyers argued in the court of law and the kind of dashing personality they carried around them.
I wanted to become that. Also, given the way I argued with my mother at home, everyone assumed a black gown with that oratory skills in the court would be a deadly combination.
Therefore everyone decided that litigation was the perfect career choice for me.
After my five years of law course, I took the lifeline of doing my master’s degree in international law and human rights which managed to change the way I had imagined my legal career to be.
Of course, I was a litigator for 5 months after LLM and then hopped on to work as an immigration officer for New Zealand Immigration which helped me pursue my interest in refugee and immigration law. I eventually realized I want to spend more time doing research and writing and joined LawSikho after feeling inspired and seeing its rapid growth.
The moral of the story is that you can make elaborate plans about your career, and spend your entire lifetime fantasizing about it. But until the rubbers hit the road, you just don’t know what you will eventually end up doing.
When you don’t know what to do, and you hit a wall, maybe realize like I did that you had originally misunderstood your dream career, what do you do next?
Are you facing this, or know someone who is in this position right now? I would request you to forward this email to them.
Further education is a good idea in such times, which gives you an opportunity to discover what you really like and find your path thereafter. My LLM helped me to discover my interest in human rights, immigration, and research. It was an opportunity to take a fresh look at my career plans.
Is it time for you to take a pause and think afresh about your career too?
From 28th-30th August, we will be talking about how you could do an international LLM and whether it would make sense in different career situations. Would you like to be present there?
See you in the Bootcamp! Set up an alarm on your phone so you don’t miss the Bootcamp.
The 3 hours sessions on all 3 days begin at 6 pm in India, 1:30 pm if you are in Nigeria, 8:30 pm if you are in the Philippines. We have people here from 91 countries, so requesting you to check your timezone before you set the alarm.