This article has been written by Sharan Bhavnani (Batch of 2019).
If you’re reading this, the thought of putting an end to your miseries has probably crossed your mind. The conflict of laws isn’t probably the biggest conflict in your thoughts. It’s probably the question – “should I drop out?” I completely understand it. Most of us do. But before you go ahead and slam your laptop screen in resignation, lend me an opportunity to change your mind.
The activity of ‘mooting’ in any law school enjoys a position so privileged that LawSoc plans on making the activity do its annual walk. When I joined law school in 2014, mooting was considered to be that one big activity in the first trimester (as it continues to be). I remember the anxiety that filled the classroom when people started constituting firms. “Wow. So many people doing this activity. It must be important” I thought. Like any first year, I wanted to check all the correct boxes before I graduated. Who amongst us hasn’t desired to participate in Jessup?
With my first year enthusiasm, I signed up. I felt a little out of my depth with issues concerning corporate governance and private international law. So, four days into the process, I dropped out. However, there were a few from my batch who made it on-to international moot teams. They were the few who survived the Univs in the first year and made it out alive from this process. I convinced myself that I was only a first year and it was okay to back out.
This is probably not very inspiring. So let me skip to the Univs in my second year.
This time, I was nervous but also excited. Most of my batch mates were participating – that too seriously. I desired to do well at the activity like everyone else. Groups were quickly formed and I found myself in a five member firm. Were we the most functional and efficient firm in college? Well, maybe not. But we tried. On the day of memo submission, we finished our individual issues and sent them across. Then, of course, the process of paraphrasing other arguments began. My enthusiasm had shot itself in the head a few days ago, and I found myself in a state of panic and fear.
“Can I finish this memo?” “I can still drop out” “But will people think I got scared and dropped out?” “How does it matter? I am scared. Let’s drop out.” Lost in making oral submissions to the judge in my mind, court was adjourned when I realised that it was 12 am. Giving up didn’t seem like an option after 12 days of some effort. So I carried on making frills and finishing arguments till 2:58 am (last last was at 3 am). In those last few seconds of frenzy, I attached “A12.docx” and “B12.docx” to the mail and sent it right away. Just in time. Phew.
The next day, I realised that those were only my research documents.
Given that our exemptions depended on it, I had to present my oral submissions. Armed with my three piece suit, cut-away collar shirt and cufflinks I waltzed into V. Niranjan’s room. It didn’t take the legend more than 40 seconds to see through the lack of depth in my research. I felt quite queasy when he was going through what was a sad excuse for a research doc, let alone a memo. But hey, at least I didn’t faint like a friend of mine during the round (you know who you are). The two excruciating days were finally over and I was relieved. Come the day of results, and what have you? The 2nd years had swept the international team slots. So, where was I on that list? At 86.
This is still not inspiring? Hm. How about I told you about my third year Univs?
Unwilling to do Univs ever again in my life, I decided that I hated myself enough to do it again. But I decided that I’d do something different this time. So I hung around the field for a couple of hours just thinking about what I’d done wrong till now with Univs. The answer was right there – I hated the process. Detested every second of it. But loved bonding with others over “I haven’t slept for years. Imma die. Thank God for Pol. Sci.” Despite my newfound enthusiasm, I found a way to just think about how I won’t be able to make it because the issues seemed tough or that I’d repeat last year’s debacle all over again. Insecurities crept in and naturally my class rounds were, as the person who timed my round put it, “like watching a cow get slaughtered.” Unsurprisingly, I was last on the list. Sekhri was so brutal, that my three piece suit and windsor knotted tie couldn’t save me this time.
This experience led me to more contemplation on the field. “I don’t even like commercial law” “what good is this all doing to me?” “Are moots all that important?” But you know what? I decided that I was going to view that as a means to an end. To do my absolute best without any regrets. To actually enjoy the process of reading, learning and drafting. The end was to enjoy the process. And that’s what I did.
Soon after, I was Rank 7 in the pool and the offerings were a few days away.
So, why did I take up a moot? I mean, wasn’t I done with the whole process and proving my point to myself? Not really. Once I started enjoying the process, I realised that I wanted more of it. So, I ended up taking a moot that took up a fifth of my law school life. There will literally be a new Man Lachs team, and our World Rounds wouldn’t have even started (btw, I’m not sharing my moot room). A year into this, not only has my reading speed increased, but so has the power of my lenses. From reading a few pages a day for class to reading 300 pages a day for the memo, this process has sharpened very important skills such as drafting, comprehending complex propositions with relative ease and has taught me how to push myself for several hours without end to meet deadlines. The best part of the process was that not only did I learn a lot about a new and vast area of law, but also about the benefits of perseverance. After all that failure, insecurity, and uncertainty, our team went on to win the ISRO Funding Rounds (and I picked up Best Speaker) and the Asia Pacific Rounds. We are heading to Australia towards the end of this September to go up against the three other winners of their respective regional rounds.
So don’t drop out just yet. You’re probably destined to be on the next Jessup, Vis or Man Lachs team (still not sharing my moot room) and maybe even win it.